By Dale Western on 19 August 2014

The aviation industry has today been warned about potential flight disruptions due to powerful seismic activity recorded at Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano in the past three days. The Met Office recorded the earthquake as the strongest in the region since 1996 and upgraded the status to orange – the fourth level out of five.

Columbus Direct urges air travellers to be vigilant about planning for the possible disruption and to ensure that their travel insurance adequately covers the direct and indirect costs of flight cancellations.

During the 2010 volcanic ash disruption (pictured above) the European Union shut down airspace despite widespread protests from airlines, resulting in thousands of holidaymakers unable to go on holiday or left stranded in a foreign location.

Whilst airlines are legally required to cover cancelled flights from and to EU regions, further costs such as extended hotel stays, while theoretically covered, are often disputed by airlines after major travel disruptions. If you don’t make it to your destination at all, then the airlines are not required to compensate you for the unused accommodation.

Greg Lawson, Head of Retail at Columbus Direct, commented, "Following the major disruptions experienced in 2010 due to the volcanic ash cloud, travellers are today more aware of the need for cancellation and delay protection. However, many policies do not include cover for delay or cancellation due to an ash cloud, although some will allow customers to top up their policy to protect against the costs incurred  This underscores the importance of travellers being fully aware of policy terms in addition to price when selecting travel coverage and focus on the quality and features of a policy that are important and relevant to them."

Columbus Ash Cloud & ETU* - what it covers



(Ash Cloud only)


(Ash Cloud & ETU* combined)

Travel Delay



- per 12 hours






Missed departure



Note: the amounts are per person amounts

*ETU = Emergency Travel Upgrade, which provides £4,000 of additional cover In the event of any unforeseen circumstances.


Single Trip






Columbus Directs top tips for ensuring adequate cover:

  1. Fully understand the terms and conditions of your travel insurance and make sure to purchase adequate cover.
  2. Research the area you are travelling to in order to discover the likelihood of ash cloud or unexpected interruptions; the FCO advice website is a great place to learn about potential travel disruptions (
  3. If weather-related or other ‘non-airline’ interruptions are common where you’re travelling, consider insurance topping up with trip disruption cover, such as Emergency Travel Upgrade (ETU), which provides for extra travel and accommodation expenses in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.  
  4. Always be clear on what your airline is legally required to pay for in the event of cancellation due to weather or other unexpected interruptions. 
  5. Carry your policy details with you as well as contact details for your insurer so that you are able to get guidance in the event you are stranded abroad.


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