Cheap annual travel insurance is hugely popular amongst UK holiday goers, allowing them to travel when and where they wish without having to worry about booking travel insurance for every single trip. Many people assume that their cheap travel insurance will cover them against every eventuality, but this is not the case. There are plenty of exclusions in the average document, and one of the most well known but least understood of these is the "acts of God" exclusion. What do travel insurance companies mean by an act of God? And what might not be covered by your annual travel insurance?
What are "Acts of God"?
Traditionally, "acts of God" was a standard exclusion clause that featured in many different kinds of insurance; travel, housing, property and so on. Essentially, it refers to "a sudden and violent act of nature that could not have been foreseen or prevented", typically meaning natural disasters such as:
- Hurricanes and tempests
- Lightning storms
- Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
Mass outbreaks of infectious diseases are also often classed as "acts of God" (perhaps in some kind of biblical reference to the seven plagues of ancient Egypt!). Essentially, the exclusion clause means that if an event is classed as an act of God, any costs that you incur as a result of it may not be covered by your travel insurance, and you will not be entitled to any compensation from your insurance company .
Nowadays, an actual "acts of God" exclusion is not always in a travel insurance policy, but most insurers still have similar exclusions in place under different names, such as "natural disasters". It may seem like a chore, but you really do need to read your policy carefully before you go – if you think you are covered for something and you are not, you could end up paying a small fortune in medical and transport costs. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Florida, hundreds of holiday goers found themselves caught out, unable to claim compensation for the costs incurred or the cancellation of their trips.
If you are traveling to a place that has a risk of natural disasters, make sure you talk to your travel insurance company to make sure your insurance will protect you.
What about Acts of War and Acts of Terrorism?
While acts of God is one of the most well known exclusion clauses, in today's international climate, terrorism is also a common exclusion. Much like natural disasters, if you incur costs or your holiday is canceled because of terrorism, your travel insurance may well be invalid. If terrorism is a potential hazard for your destination of choice, check that your worldwide travel insurance will cover you against acts of terrorism – some insurers do provide this kind of protection, but many do not.
Most policies will be invalidated by serious civil unrest or if war breaks out in a country while you are traveling there – the Foreign Office website is the best place to visit to check up on the political stability of your holiday destination, as it provides up to date and accurate information about the potential hazards of every country in the world.