ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. January 8, 2020 – Mandatory evacuation orders and travel alerts have been issued for travelers in multiple Australian cities. Travel insurance comparison site, Squaremouth, breaks down how this impacts travel insurance coverage.
Travel Alerts Not Enough to Trigger Travel Insurance
Some travelers may find their travel insurance coverage is currently limited, as many areas of Australia are still largely unaffected by the wildfires. Even though the Australian government has declared a state of disaster in certain states, and the U.S. Embassy has issued travel alerts for specific cities in Australia, those are not enough to trigger cancellation coverage under a standard travel insurance policy.
Evacuation Orders Activate Coverage
Travelers who purchased a policy before the fires started may be able to cancel or return home early if a city on their planned itinerary has a mandatory evacuation order issued by local authorities. If a traveler has plans to visit several destinations in Australia, a current evacuation order at any one of those locations is enough to activate cancellation or interruption coverage. Travelers forced to cancel or interrupt their trips can be reimbursed for their unused, nonrefundable trip costs, but it is important to note that some policies require that travelers have less than 50% of their trip length remaining when the evacuation order ends to be covered.
Arson May Nullify Benefits
Most standard trip cancellation travel insurance policies can reimburse travelers if a natural disaster, including wildfire, impacts their trip. However, the source of the fires determines if coverage is available. Travel insurance policies typically consider a “natural disaster” to be an event that occurred “due to natural causes” which means if a fire was caused by arson, it may no longer be covered. With initial reports revealing that some wildfires in Australia may have been started by arson, this information could potentially invalidate travel insurance coverage.
Squaremouth launched the Australian Wildfire Travel Insurance Information Center to keep travelers informed about coverage for this event. While coverage may be limited today, it can change as the situation evolves.