Travellers told claims won't fly
Published 18/04/2010 | 05:00
There's almost no chance of claiming on your travel insurance for losses incurred because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Unless volcanoes are specifically mentioned in the small print of your travel insurance policy, stranded passengers who booked hotels, hire cars and other extras will not be able to claim.
The manager of the European Consumer Centre in Dublin, Ann Neville, confirmed that cancellations and delays were covered by EU regulations but they only cover passengers in terms of delays or cancellations. Any consequential damage in terms of bookings for hotels and car hire is not covered in the legislation.
"The only recourse is if they happen to have booked with travel insurance -- then they could try and reclaim on that," she said.
Ms Neville also admitted that extraordinary natural events could come under the 'act of God' clause.
"But we are still telling people to look at the terms and conditions of their insurance policies," she said.
"Generally speaking, you're in a much stronger position with travel insurance. But, unfortunately, the airline won't cover lost bookings with hotels or costs incurred for car hire if you're not there to pick it up."
But the Professional Insurance Brokers' Association said many would find that their policies would not save them. Many did not cover claims arising from adverse weather as they were exempt under the 'act of God' clause, said chief executive Diarmuid Kelly.
That pessimistic view was echoed by Mike Horan of the Irish Insurance Federation, who told the Sunday Independent that volcanoes were rarely mentioned in standard insurance policies and it was unlikely a claim under "adverse weather" would be successful, even if that clause was included in the policy.
Hotels around the world will decide individually if they want to refund stranded travellers who have made bookings.
President of the Irish Hotels Federation Paul Gallagher said: "While the situation is out of our control, all our members are doing their best to accommodate travellers who have been affected.
The Professional Insurance Brokers Association said travel-insurance cover would vary for many travellers.
However, the Commission for Aviation Regulation said people whose flights were cancelled or delayed had significant legal rights under EU laws.
These rights generally cover only a refund of air fares, some meals and short-term accommodation.
Under European law an airline is obliged to offer passengers a choice between either cancelling the booking and getting a refund, or rebook a new flight.
If you opt for rerouting, the European Consumer Centre says you should be entitled to meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation (if necessary), transport between airport and accommodation, and two free telephone calls.