We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Travel insurance unexpected event cover reviews

There have been numerous events in recent years that have tested travel insurance policies. Find out what you're covered for. 

In this article
Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel insurance update What is unexpected-event travel insurance
What unexpected events do insurers cover? Get top money-saving tips from Which?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel insurance update


The spread of coronavirus has resulted in considerable disruption to travel plans. It has also caused some insurers to make changes to their policies.

Be aware that policies bought or renewed on or after 12 March may lack cover for coronavirus-related incidents.

Due to this and the fact that significant numbers of travel insurers have temporarily withdrawn from the market we’ve temporarily stopped recommending specific travel insurers.

We won’t resume doing so until we have a clearer picture of the travel insurance market and how insurers may have revised policies.

But we will continue to scrutinise insurers and provide you with all the essential information as this situation unfolds.

You can find the latest updates and advice in our dedicated Which? coronavirus information hub.

What is unexpected-event travel insurance

The Icelandic ash cloud, civil unrest, strikes – it's not always apparent whether your insurer will cover you if you have to cancel or cut short your holiday for reasons well beyond your control. 

So you want to know which companies will cover you for the unexpected? The table below highlights providers that will cover you for six major unexpected events.

Find out more: Your rights if your flight is cancelled – find out where you stand and if you can get compensation

What unexpected events do insurers cover?

The six elements of travel insurance cover shown above have all been identified by holidaymakers as being of particular interest over the past year, due to various events such as the Thailand uprising and the Icelandic volcano eruption. Here's a quick run through of what each means:

Holiday failure

Scheduled airline failure insurance emerged as an issue when airlines such as Zoom went bust, leaving travellers stranded abroad.

The recession led to other companies associated with the travel industry going under. Holiday failure insurance covers elements of a trip that may be cancelled, such as excursions, cruises and safaris.

Scheduled airline failure insurance (Safi)

Safi is increasingly popular due to the shaky prospects of smaller airlines. This protection covers you if you book a flight with a provider that goes bust before you fly.

Strike cover

Strike cover provides protection if your flight, and holiday, was delayed or cancelled due to industrial action.

Volcanic ash

In 2010, plumes of ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland disrupted flights across much of Europe. It was an unusual event, and resulted in thousands of travellers having flight plans disrupted.

The Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicated that the volcanic ash episode was as a result of 'poor weather conditions', meaning many travel insurance policyholders got redress.

As a result, many insurers have added a provision to their policies that covers disruption caused by volcanic ash.

Terrorism cover

World events have made travellers more mindful of the possibility that their travel plans may be affected by acts of terror. Some insurers will cover this eventuality, but others won't.

Civil unrest

Riots and outbreaks of civil unrest have emerged sporadically in recent times. Some insurers now cover this eventuality, making it worth considering if you are travelling to a potential hot-spot.

Get top money-saving tips from Which?

Sign up to the Which? Money Weekly newsletter to get our latest news, tips and deals straight to your inbox.