As multiple wildfires continue to burn across Australia, travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth breaks down what travellers to Australia need to know now.
It’s too late to buy a policy with coverage for wildfires
Travellers with pre-planned trips to Australia may be concerned about travelling as scheduled.
Unfortunately, for those looking into travel insurance now, new policies can no longer provide benefits for the current and ongoing fires, as travel insurance policies only provide coverage for unforeseen events.
While policies can still be purchased to provide cancellation coverage and other benefits for future, unrelated events, they must be completely independent of the current fires, which are expected to continue over the next month.
If you already purchased a policy, you may be covered to cancel your trip
Most cancellation-style travel insurance policies include coverage for natural disasters, including wildfires.
Travellers who had a travel insurance policy in place before the fires began, may be covered to cancel. For this situation specifically, it can be hard to identify a singular cutoff date as there are multiple fires, so insurance providers may take the stance that they became a foreseen event when the fires were widely known about as early as October.
In order for a traveller to be reimbursed by their policy, their trip must be reasonably impacted or prevented – specifically, their accommodations must be rendered uninhabitable due to the fire damage or evacuation orders, or they must be unable to reach their destination entirely, due to evacuation, an airport closure or smoke in the area, preventing inbound flights.
Travellers with future trips to Australia may be understandably concerned, as many pre-planned excursions are no longer available, however, simply not wanting to go anymore, even if they fear for their safety, isn’t a covered reason to cancel.
If you recently booked your trip, Cancel for Any Reason upgrade may be available
For travellers who booked their trip within the last three weeks, there is one option available if they want to be able to cancel their trip.
The Cancel for Any Reason upgrade is time sensitive and only available within 21 days of the first trip booking. This upgrade costs 40% more than a typical cancellation policy and will only reimburse up to 75% of their trip cost, but it is the only option that allows travellers to cancel if they no longer want to go on their trip.
Squaremouth launched the Australian Wildfire Travel Insurance Information Center to keep travellers informed about coverage for this event. While coverage may be limited today, it can change as the situation evolves.