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New Icelandic volcano threat

The first ash from the newest Icelandic volcanic eruption is expected to reach the north-west tip of the British Isles this week with the Civil Aviation Auuthority saying disruption is likely for travellers. There are currently no restrictions on UK airspace. Travellers should check the airline or holiday operators websites for the latest news. For those who have booked a trip to Iceland, check with the tour operator or airline for the latest travel information.

What are your rights is this happens? Most airlines would offer customers a choice of a refund or a free transfer onto another flight when air services resume. According to the Trading Standards Institute, passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled due to the volcanic dust blown over to the UK from Iceland will have the same rights under the Regulation 261/2004 Air Passenger Rights. They are entitled to a refund or re-routing if the flight is cancelled or delayed by more than five hours; if re-routing is offered from an alternative location, the airline must cover the cost of transfers.

Passengers on flights delayed by more than two hours are also entitled to meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation if necessary, transport between airport and accommodation, two free telephone calls, faxes or emails. In cases of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ like this, which are beyond the airlines’ control, consumers are unlikely to be entitled to further compensation. Passengers should also check their own travel insurance as they may be entitled to more under their individual policies.

Although the regulations apply in all cases, not all travel insurance policies will pay out additional sums in the event of a volcanic ash cloud.  With regard to claiming for delay or cancellation through a travel insurance policy, the advice is to contact your insurer and clarify what options are available to you.  If insurance polices do cover this scenario then it is likely that the typical rules for making a claim for delayed departure apply. Travellers would be able to claim after they are delayed for 12 hours or more and to ensure their claim has the best chance of being processed successfully should obtain written confirmation from the airline of why the flight was cancelled.

Travellers with insurance policies should read the wording carefully to see what they are and aren’t covered for and also look at the procedures for making a claim as they differ from insurer to insurer.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

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