Travelling to Bali? Does Your Travel Insurance Cover Volcano Woes?
Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali has been closed following Mount Agung's eruption and the formation of ash clouds that would affect all flights around the Bali skyline. Wondering how your travel insurance could be helpful to you? Read on to find out!
Is it safe to travel to Bali?
Even though this island paradise is a dream vacation spot for tourists from around the globe, safety concerns have left some a tad nervous about traveling there.
Although relatively safe, the latest volcano scare had many tourists scrapping their plans altogether. In fact, tourist activity has severely dipped, reportedly costing the island approximately RM630 million through tourism losses and other expenses.
Recently however, the threat alert has been downgraded, but eruption is still possible, albeit less likely than it was previously predicted.
Bear in mind as well that the tourist areas outside the exclusion zone (within 12km from the Mount Agung crater) is expected to be safe, regardless of volcanic activity.
The big issue – if the volcano does erupt – is related to flight disruptions, delays and cancellations caused by ash and debris that could be carried by strong winds toward the airport.
So…should you continue with your Bali trip?
After all the planning and anticipation, you might still want to continue with your trip. And while we can’t tell you what to do, we can let you know that areas outside of the exclusion zone are considered safe. In fact, over 98% of Bali’s tourist attractions are expected to remain unaffected even if the volcano does blow. So if your vacation area is within the ‘safe’ zone, continuing with your travel plans might not be such a bad idea.
As mentioned however, a volcanic eruption could cause troubles with flights. This means you could be left stranded for a few days until the air clears up and flights are allowed to operate again.
Cancelled or delayed flights can be troublesome and costly as you could miss connecting flights, incur additional accommodation and transport costs, as well as lose important bookings or deposits.
Thus, if you do plan to continue on with your Bali holiday, it is highly recommended that you buy a good travel insurance plan before you depart.
How travel insurance can benefit a Bali vacation
Depending on your specific plan, your travel insurance may cover the costs related to trip disruptions and other emergencies. For instance, if your flight is overbooked or cancelled, you may be allowed to make a claim or be paid a benefit.
Also, if you have to cancel your trip due to circumstances outside of your control i.e. if your holiday destination is deemed unsafe because of a natural disaster (like a volcanic eruption); travel insurance could help cover costs like hotel deposits and prepaid flight tickets.
These three insurance plans are good options for Bali travels:
1. AXA SmartTraveller
Take your pick from AXA's SmartTraveller Classic and SmartTraveller VIP. If you had a five-night trip booked at Bali, it only costs RM12 and RM26 per person respectively. You will be paid RM200 for the first six hours of complete delay, and an additional RM300 for every six hours after up to a limit state in their travel policy.
2. Berjaya Sompo Travel Care
Berjaya Sompo's Travel Care Elite plan costs just RM27 per trip per traveller and scores highly on GoBear! This plan pays out handsomely for travel and accommodation costs due to cancellations or delays. So don't let Mount Agung leave you with nothing!
3. Great Eastern TravelMate
Starting from just RM37, this plan covers delayed, cancelled and interrupted trips as well as overbooked flights and even additional costs to return rental cars. You might also want to check out the special optional cover for adventurous activities, an allowance for influenza quarantines as well as a golfer’s cover (if you golf)!
Travel-Smart Tips for a Bali Holiday
Now that you know which travel insurance plans to consider, remember to follow these handy tips before you head out to beautiful Bali:
- Inform your travel provider. Write an email to your provider to clarify if you are covered in the event of cancellations and other travel issues related to a potential eruption. Confirmation from your provider will be helpful just in case you have to make a claim.
- Sign up for emergency alerts. Since these types of natural disaster events are unpredictable, it’s best to stay updated on travel warnings as they come out. Another reason to stay in the know is that your travel provider might allow you to claim for trip cancellations when hazardous events are announced by national advisories or the general media. Do check out Malaysia’s travel advisory, updates from your travel provider or airline, reputable news sources or even Google SOS Alerts.
- Pack supplies. Have a kit ready with face masks, eye drops, allergy meds, etc. You might also need a spare credit card, especially if you have to stay a few extra days in the event of an eruption. Do note that some insurance plans will cover the cost of medication despatch if you are stranded without your meds and it is unavailable at your destination.
- Hold on to your receipts. If you do need to make a claim, most providers will require you to file with original receipts. Thus, it’s best to keep receipts for transports, meals and other essentials in good condition.
If you are thinking of cancelling your trip…do this first!
Now if you feel as though you do not want to continue with your trip because of safety concerns or potential travel inconveniences, you might still be able to claim for unrecoverable expenses – if you have purchased travel insurance. This cover usually extends to include deposits for hotels and other travel costs.
However, to be on the safe side, do check with your provider if your cancellation is covered, before you act. This is because different providers may have varying rules regarding claims. For instance, some may only allow you to claim for cancellations if your travel destination is announced to be unsafe or hazardous, within 14 days prior to your scheduled departure.
Thus, it is best NOT to assume that every cancellation will be covered and even better to have certification from your provider that you will be compensated if you choose to cancel your trip.
Check through your policy carefully and if there are any uncertainties or clauses which you do not understand, do reach out to your provider for clarification.
Here’s wishing you safe and happy travels!