A predictable travel disruption?

Wellington’s weather bomb 

Jason was booked to travel from Wellington to Athens to take up a work opportunity.  On the day Jason was due to travel, he arranged travel insurance to cover a three month period while he was working in Greece.  Because of a severe storm hitting Wellington on the departure date, all later flights to Auckland were cancelled so that Jason missed his international connection and had to re-book. The airline refunded the cost of Jason’s original tickets and issued new ones which cost substantially more. 

 

The claim 

Jason made a claim for the difference between the cost of the original tickets and the new tickets he had to buy amounting to $1389.91.  The insurer, A1 Travel Insurance (A1), declined the claim on the basis that when Jason arranged the insurance on the departure date, he was already aware of the approaching storm and the likelihood that his flight to Auckland would be cancelled. 

 

A1’s position 

A1 confirmed that Jason’s travel policy proved cover for additional travel and accommodation costs incurred as a result of a weather event.  However, one of the exclusions under the policy was that A1 would not provide cover for disruption to travel caused by events known or anticipated when the cover was arranged.  The severe storm that hit Wellington received widespread media coverage and A1 was unable to accept that Jason would have been unaware of the likelihood that his journey might be disrupted or delayed.  The claim was declined. 

 

Jason’s position 

Jason always arranged travel insurance for international travel.  He was busy with exams in the period leading up to his departure and it was not until the departure date that he found time arrange insurance to cover the trip and his stay in Greece. He did not arrange the insurance because of the possibility of an impending storm and there was no way to know in advance that the storm would be so severe that all flights would be cancelled. The travel advisory attached to A1’s website made no mention of severe weather conditions in Wellington at the time he arranged insurance cover. 

 

Settlement 

After we contacted A1 about Jason’s complaint, A1 asked if it could contact Jason direct to discuss a possible resolution.  After further discussion between the parties, A1 accepted that Jason’s explanation was genuine and agreed to pay the full amount of the claim as a gesture of goodwill. The complaint was resolved on that basis.