After 4 days of an almost surreal standstill of the European airport network, things haven’t gotten much better for travelers there. The ash cloud remains settled over much of northern and central Europe and doesn’t appear to be doing much in the way of dissipating. Twenty countries have now closed their airspace with specialists saying there may not be much in the way of improvement until later this week.
However, there is some good news: the rumors of a second volcano erupting in Iceland are purely that and because the density of the cloud appears to be diminishing, British Airways has announced they could be resuming their flights as early as tomorrow local time, with more European airlines likely to follow their lead.
But because volcanic ash is still dangerous for jet engines and since the passenger backup has spread so deeply into airline operations worldwide no one is completely sure how long the situation will take to resolve itself.
To help our customers in affected destinations around the world, I turned to our in-house insurance specialist Jeffrey Fell to answer some questions travelers may have about protecting themselves and their money during this sticky situation.
(Don’t forget to check your travel visa to make sure it doesn’t expire in the next few days. You can still face immigration issues by overstaying a tourist visa, especially if you’re stuck in the US. You can find instructions on extending your US travel visa here.)
If I purchased travel insurance, am I covered for canceled flights due to the Iceland volcano?
- Yes, insurance policies usually cover natural disasters. As long as you purchased your policy prior to when the disruption to air travel began you are covered. A policy issued after the disruption to travel began would not cover you.
How much am I covered for?
- $150 a day, for up to 5 days, under the Trip Delay benefit. This is a reimbursement benefit for hotels, food and incidental expenses.
- Reimbursement of airline rebooking fees would be covered under the Trip Interruption benefit. (Check your policy for more info on the Trip Interruption benefit).
How do I start a claim?
- Once your trip is completed contact Travel Guard using the contact information provided on your policy. Approved claims will be paid by check and mailed to your home address in the US or Canada.
What can I do in the meantime?
- Keep receipts for what you spend on hotels, food and incidentals, and get documentation of all changes and expenses relating to your airline tickets. Above that, try to enjoy the extra time you have in the place you’re stuck!
If you have other questions about your personal situation please leave it in the comments section or contact customer service directly.
I also recommend reading Edward Hasbrouck’s article about what the airlines themselves will attempt to do for you.