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I’m still stranded in Bangkok with my wife and 2 year old daughter. Luckily for us, we have a bit of savings put away that will help us survive while we’re stuck in Thailand. Over the last few days, I’ve been trying hard to organise our flights home, extended visas and of course sort out who is going to cover us for this extended holiday (if you can call it that).

As with every holiday I go on, I made sure I got myself Travel Insurance. You just never know when you are going to need it. In all the holidays I’ve ever taken, I’ve never once had to rely on my travel insurance for any reason. Until now that is.

Who would ever have thought that a volcanic eruption in Iceland could cause the whole European flight zone to be closed? So foreseeing this event was something I certainly didn’t envisage. Isn’t that why we get travel insurance in the first place?

When booking my travel insurance through GetCover (www.getcover.ie), an Irish based insurance company, I was mindful of the terrible events that happened in Thailand not so many years ago and wanted to be sure I was at least covered for such a catastrophic event.

I carefully studied the travel policy document to ensure I was covered for anything that could possibly happen. The document from GetCover can be seen here : http://www.getcover.ie/pdfs/travel-policy-document_200911_1.pdf

The important part of this document is on page 13, under the heading “Catastrophe”. It states:

What You Are Covered For:
The Insurer will indemnify you up to the amount shown in the Schedule of Benefits in the event that the Tour Operator is unable to assist and you are forced to move while in resort, from the pre-booked accommodation as a result of fire, lightning, explosion, earthquake, storm, tempest, hurricane, flood, tsunami, medical epidemic or local Government Directive which is confirmed in writing by local or national authority, for irrecoverable travel or accommodation costs necessarily incurred to continue with the trip or, if the trip cannot be continued for return home.

Now I know it doesn’t specifically state “volcanic eruption” or “volcanic ash“, but it does say “government directive”. Clearly the governing body that caused this cancellation in my case, was the Irish Aviation Authority.

When I rang my Insurance company’s emergency helpline from the airport on Sunday night, I assumed that because I had taken out the best policy they offered and paid a premium for it, that it would be an open and shut case. How wrong was I?

The first phone call, left me quite irate when I hung up the phone. The person at the end of the line, after me already spending 5 minutes giving him my policy details and explaining the situation on a premium rate phone number – decided to tell me that he was being told to inform anyone who called with cancellations due to the volcanic ash that they were not covered. To make things worse, when I question him about where in the policy document does it state that I’m not covered, he told me he couldn’t explain to me over the phone and that I would have to ring the “broker” whom I purchased the insurance from, GetCover. After this call, I’d only a few coins left to make an important phone call and that was to my wife’s brother. I thought I’d just email GetCover when I got to an Internet connection.

I’ve so far received two responses from GetCover – the first basically reiterated what I was told on the phone. The email I just received now has left me furious!!! After asking nicely in my email for them to clearly state where it states in their policy document that I was not covered, it was suggested that I contact their claims department which is a completely different company.

I’m not at all happy about this, it is wrong on so many levels. Firstly on the false advertisement of the product I purchased from them and secondly that they seem to be able to decide at their leisure when someone is covered and when they are not.

Would welcome others opinions on this situation and what they feel my rights are. I’m not letting this one go!

LATEST UPDATE:
http://www.tomdoyletalk.com/2010/04/24/getcover-insurance-latest-update/

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