World First Offers Advice to Travellers Fearing Disruption From Volcanic Ash

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Resist the urge to panic but check your policy, says travel insurance specialist

Travellers are understandably concerned about disruption to their holiday plans with the recent eruption by Iceland's most active volcano, Grimsvotn, and seeing, across the media, the continuous towering plume of smoke and ash coming from it.

However, previous experience gained by the scientists and the travel industry will, it is thought, prevent the mass disruption thousands of travellers had to endure last year. Martin Rothwell, Managing Partner at World First Travel Insurance urges those with travel plans to check their insurance policies to ensure they thoroughly understand what they cover and what they don’t.

Last year World First customers caught up in the disruption were able to claim if their travel was disrupted for more than 12 hours as a result of the volcanic ash situation, as the insurance company consider the volcanic ash to be an ‘adverse weather condition’. Again World First will provide similar cover for customers that bought travel insurance to cover unforeseen events before 08:00 on Sunday 22 May.

Any travellers who bought policies after this time will not be covered as the media began reporting the volcanic activity on 21 May. After 08.00 on 22 May the event was no longer unforeseen and therefore any claims made relating to volcanic ash will not be covered. As soon as any situation is reported, travel insurance cover for unforeseen events will not be available, regardless of whether airspace is closed or not as the situation then becomes fact.

Martin Rothwell says, “This demonstrates how important it is to buy adequate travel insurance against unforeseen events as soon as you book your holiday. Our customers who insured before Sunday, 22 May are currently covered.”

At present the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has not officially closed airspace or advised airlines to stop flying. Claims resulting from airlines cancelling flights are covered under ‘Adverse Weather Conditions’ within World First policies. If the situation deteriorates and airspace or individual airports are closed resulting in the withdrawal from service of aircraft on the advice or recommendation of the CAA or similar authority, travel insurance policies will not cover delays or disruption, as this is a direct result of CAA advice.

People who purchased a travel insurance policy prior to 08.00 on 22 May, and who are affected by the Icelandic Volcano, Grimsvotn, are covered for travel delay and abandonment.

Travel Delay: Where flights are delayed and/or diverted due to the ash cloud (normally for 12 hours+): World First policies contain a Travel Delay section that offers customers a fixed benefit following a specified length of delay, usually 12 hours, at their international departure point. A benefit is payable after 12 hours and a further benefit is payable for each 12 hours thereafter, up to a maximum amount as detailed in Policy Schedules. For this cover to apply travellers must have checked-in for their flight/journey in line with the original booking conditions. Travellers should check each policy as limits vary between schemes.

Abandonment: Travellers will be able to cancel their holiday after a delay of 24 hours or more from the specified time of the international outward departure. For this cover to apply travellers must have checked-in for their flight/journey in line with the original booking conditions.

It is worth noting that travellers cannot submit a claim for both travel delay and abandonment which relates to the same event.

World First offers the following advice on the specific details of their cover.

  •     Volcanic ash is a dynamic situation, dependent on weather systems. If you bought your travel insurance before this new event and are subsequently delayed for more than 12 hours because your flight has been cancelled due to this problem, you can claim Travel Delay.
  •     Travellers can claim Abandonment if they are delayed for more than 24 hours in any airport or destination and no alternative travel arrangements offered.
  •     Travellers will need to prove that their flight was delayed for that length of time when making a claim.
  •     Policyholders who become stuck abroad due the volcanic ash situation will have their policies automatically extended until the next available flight is offered.
  •     Policyholders purchasing after 22 May who are due to travel during that specific period affected by the event will not be covered as the event was not unforeseen at the time of buying the policy.

Experts say they expect little chance of a repeat of last year's six-day closure of airspace, which also hit transatlantic flights, when another Icelandic volcano erupted, although airlines have been warned the new ash cloud will drift.

Travellers are advised to contact their airline, tour operator or departure airport directly to obtain up to the minute information on travel plans.

For more information, please contact:
Shelley Fletcher, Firegrass Communications
PR on behalf of World First Travel Insurance
01736 719222 / 07850 937419

Notes to editors:
0845 90 80 161

About Rothwell & Towler
Rothwell & Towler, launched their new company website in May. The website is designed to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for enquiries from the travel insurance industry and potential business customers.

Rothwell & Towler, an independent insurance group set up in 1973, operates specialist travel insurance brands, including: World First Travel Insurance, Guest First, Hotelsure, Cancelsure and Visitorsure. The new website outlines many of services and products that Rothwell & Towler, who have an excellent industry reputation and rigorous knowledge of specialist travel insurance, can provide.

World First Travel Insurance
Their leading brand, World First is an independent, family run business with Martin Rothwell, son of the founder, the Managing Partner overseeing all company and policy development. The company has seen substantial growth over the past year and there are ambitious growth plans for the business over the coming five years.

World First Travel Insurance is a member of ATII - Association of Travel Insurance Intermediaries which represents intermediaries who specialise in travel insurance within the UK. Members work to the standards expected of professional insurance intermediaries, and adhere to the rules of the Financial Services Authority (FSA). They also commit to upholding the levels of customer care and integrity that the ATII believe are necessary to promote trust and consumer satisfaction within the industry.

World First Travel Insurance offer single trip and annual multi trip insurance policies for destinations throughout the world and for individuals taking part in most forms of activities and types of holidays. World First is also one of the few travel insurance companies to provide comprehensive cover for pre-existing medical conditions and to insure people up to the age of 100.

World First policies are underwritten by the Professional Travel Insurance Company Limited (PTI). PTI are based in Gibraltar and began by underwriting the global travel and personal accident programme for the International Airline Passengers Association on behalf of its members. In 1995 they completed the purchase of Columbus Direct in London. Then in 1997, PTI were acquired by The Collinson Group Limited, which has offices worldwide operating in 24 global locations.

PTI was named Best Insurer / Underwriter at the 2010 International Travel Insurance Journal Awards held in Istanbul.

World First Travel Insurance is arranged by Rothwell & Towler who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.


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Shelley Fletcher
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