A massive earthquake devastated Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this week, bringing tourism to a halt. This has prompted many travelers to look into how travel insurance can assist with their vacation plans that have now come into question. A recent article from USA Today discussed the severity of the damage and that travel to the region is being discouraged.
New Zealand’s prime minister declared a national state of emergency as Christchurch’s airport reopened Wednesday and military planes were brought in to evacuate visitors after this week’s devastating 6.3 earthquake. The temblor killed at least 75, and came less than six months after a 7.1 earthquake hit the southern New Zealand tourism center.
More than 300 people are still missing after the quake, which hit at at 12:51 p.m. Tuesday local time (6:51 p.m. ET Monday) and was followed by at least a dozen aftershocks, including one registering 5.9.
Those planning travel to New Zealand in the near future should understand that once an event is considered foreseeable, a new policy will not cover that event. This means it is too late to purchase a travel insurance policy to cover anything related to this earthquake.
When comparing travel insurance plans to see how a future event like this is covered, look for coverage language specifically addressing natural disasters. Many policies will cover trip cancellation and trip interruption if the accommodation at the destination is made uninhabitable by a natural disaster. Some will also cover if a mandatory evacuation is issued due to a natural disaster.
Travelers already en route to the region could make use of the travel delay coverage or missed connection coverage if an airline is unable to provide service. This covers costs of food, hotels, taxis or additional transportation to catch up to the trip.
Of course, travelers already in New Zealand can be covered by emergency medical and medical evacuation coverage. Anybody in the region who needs assistance should contact their policy’s 24 hour emergency assistance number for help.