By Dale Western on 12 November 2011

More up to date information on Ash Cloud worries for Holidaymakers (August 2014) can be found here.

With the recent news of the Katla volcano in Iceland attracting scientist’s attention (with more than 500 tremors in and around the caldera of Katla just in the last month - suggesting an eruption may be imminent), it's worth taking the time to check your travel insurance will cover you should an eruption happen.  

With so much confusion about whether a standard travel insurance policy will pay out for flight delays and cancellations resulting from volcanic activity, Columbus Direct’s Volcanic Ash Cover injects a note of common sense. Costing from £8 per trip, the policy protects customers in the event of their travel plans being disrupted by ash clouds like the ones which wreaked havoc in European airspace this year and last.

Commenting on the launch of the new Ash Cloud Cover, David Evans, Managing Director of Columbus Direct, said: “Having spent hours packing, checking your travel plans and making sure everything’s in order, it’s incredibly frustrating to hear that your holiday or business trip has been cancelled due to a volcano erupting 1,000 miles away! The only thing worse would be to discover your travel insurer says ash cloud delays aren’t covered.

“Our new Ash Cloud Cover, available either on a single trip or annual basis, offers customers cover for travel delay, abandonment and missed departure due to ash cloud disruption. It can also be bought in conjunction with our Emergency Travel Upgrade (ETU) on our Gold policies, which provides up to £4,000 of protection for the cost of alternative accommodation or enables them to travel by alternative means to get home in the event of any unforeseen circumstance, such as ash cloud disruption or strikes by air traffic staff.

“Columbus was one of the few providers to honour trip delay payments to its policyholders after last year’s ash cloud. Following these events, and in keeping with other market participants, our underwriter was subsequently forced to exclude cover from our standard policy so we took the decision to offer additional protection to our clients.”

 Columbus Ash Cloud Cover - 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






*ETU = Emergency Travel Upgrade. Prices include IPT

According to the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Programme, on average, 50-70 volcanoes erupt globally each year and there are currently 1,500 active volcanoes in the world.

Policy details for Ash Cloud Cover

Columbus Ash Cloud Cover provides customers with cover for Travel Delay, Abandonment and Missed Departure as a result of volcanic ash, up to the limit stated on their policy schedule.

No claims arising as a result of volcanic ash are eligible without this upgrade.

Policy details for Emergency Travel Upgrade

In the event of unforeseen circumstances preventing an individual’s return home as pre-booked, for at least 24 hours from the booked return journey, Columbus Direct will pay up to £1,500 for alternative emergency reasonable accommodation costs (on a bed and breakfast basis only and for a maximum of £100 per night or equivalent in other currency) or alternative emergency reasonable transport expenses incurred by the individual to make arrangements outside of the original plans to get the individual home (car hire is limited to £150 per 100km and train, bus, ferry or alternative flights are limited to economy basis only). The total payable for all insured persons under this policy is £4,000.

This cover is independent of other sections of this policy and does not include cover under the Scheduled Airline Failure element of this policy. This cover is intended to enable travel by alternative means, (e.g. to allow the use a train if flights are cancelled, or to take a flight if an individual’s ferry is cancelled) and to arrange accommodation required as a result of these alternative travel plans. Reasons for cancellation of intended travel must be unforeseen and not specific to the individuals named on the policy. The individual must provide evidence of all the extra costs he/she had to pay and must give Columbus Direct a written statement from an appropriate public authority confirming the reason and nature of the disaster, when it started and how long it lasted.

What is not covered:

  • The first £60 of each claim, per person (unless the individual has paid the additional premium to waive all Excesses);
  • Any expenses that the individual can recover from any tour operator, airline, hotel or other provider of services;
  • Any expenses which the individual would normally have to pay during the period of his/her journey/holiday;
  • Any claim resulting from the individual travelling against the advice of the appropriate national or local authority;
  • Any claim for costs which are not reasonable or not an emergency to get the individual home;
  • Anything listed in "Exclusions Applicable to the Whole Policy", in the policy wording.

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