Following the recent earthquake tragedy in Nepal, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has been working with its insurers (ProSight Specialty Insurance) to attend to BMC Travel Insurance policy holders requiring evacuation from Everest, Kathmandu and other affected areas in Nepal. The BMC stated: “The level of damage that has occurred in Nepal is unprecedented as this is the first major earthquake suffered in the region for 80 years. Emergency services have been stretched and as such individual needs are being prioritised according to severity. Those with life-threatening injuries are being given priority followed by those with injuries but who are in a stable condition. Those who are in Everest base camp and are uninjured will be evacuated as soon as transport becomes available.
Please note the following advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office “The FCO advises against all but essential travel to Nepal. If you’re in a safe place, you should stay where you are until it’s safe to leave. You should follow any advice provided by the local authorities. If you can leave Nepal safely then you should do so.”
In the event that you are uninjured, and in no immediate danger, but choose to curtail your visit to Nepal, our policy will respond to pay up to £2,500, as per the policy terms and conditions, for costs that the policyholder has paid or is contracted to pay and cannot recover. Given the exceptional circumstances, each claim will be considered on its merits but we must stress that only irrecoverable costs are insured and all claims must be fully supported by documentation.”
Meanwhile, Squaremouth, the US-based insurance comparison site, offered the following advice: “As a result of Saturday's earthquake in Nepal, travellers with upcoming trips to the destination may be rethinking their plans. While travel insurance benefits typically include cancellation coverage for earthquakes, it isn't always enough for an earthquake to occur. Squaremouth, America's fastest growing travel insurance comparison site, explains how travel insurance applies to the earthquake in Nepal. Before travellers can cancel their trip due to the earthquake, specific triggers must be met.”
Coverage if Your Plane Won't Fly
One trigger requires their common carrier to be delayed for a specific amount of time, typically ranging between 12 and 48 hours. Travelers who purchased a policy prior to the earthquake, and whose airlines have cancelled or delayed flights to Nepal for the required period of time, may be covered to cancel their trip.
Coverage if Your Destination is Evacuated
A second trigger requires a mandatory evacuation be issued for a traveler's destination by the local authorities, or the U.S. Department of State, before they can cancel their trip.
Currently, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Alert for Nepal. Travelers who have previously purchased a policy should contact their insurance providers to confirm if this alert suffices as a reason to cancel their trip.
Coverage if Your Accommodations are Uninhabitable
A third trigger requires the traveler's accommodation at their destination be rendered uninhabitable. In areas where there has been major structural damage, including loss of running water or electricity, travelers may be covered to cancel their trip.
"We have confirmed with some of our providers that the term "uninhabitable" will be looked at on a case-by-case basis," explains Squaremouth Director of Marketing, Megan Singh. "In areas like Kathmandu, where widespread damage has been reported, the traveler's accommodations may not necessarily need to be destroyed, as long as the area itself has been greatly damaged."
No Coverage if You're Too Scared to Travel
Travelers must meet at least one trigger in order to qualify for the Trip Cancellation benefit. Requiring at least one trigger rules out those who want to cancel because they no longer want, or are too scared, to travel to Nepal. The only option for travelers who want this option, is to purchase the Cancel for Any Reason upgrade.
No Coverage if You Haven't Purchased Yet
All travel insurance providers require the policy be purchased prior to the earthquake, in order to have coverage related to the event.
Singh adds, "Travelers who purchase a policy after the morning of Saturday, April 25th, and want to cancel a trip to Nepal because of the earthquake, will not be covered."