Global insurance giant APRIL Travel Protection is offering advice for travelers planning a trip to Europe and warns of the possible impact of a volcanic eruption in Iceland. Every policy sold by APRIL Travel Protection and its supplier partners includes the company's "Stress Less Benefits" which provides instant adjudication, the company says.
APRIL says the program pays to resolve consumers' problems on-the-spot for most covered benefits while the vacationer is still traveling. This means travelers do not have to worry about having to pay out of pocket in an emergency.
APRIL notes that this includes such events such as a volcano eruption feared for Iceland.
"While Iceland receives comparatively fewer visitors than France, Italy and some of Europe's most popular destinations, it's not outside the realm of possibility for another major eruption to shut down air travel across the continent," explained Jason Schreier, CEO of APRIL-USA, the U.S. division of 26-year-old APRIL Travel Protection.
He notes business and leisure travelers are threatened by another potential series of eruptions from Iceland's Bárðarbunga volcano. After a 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano resulted in the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights leaving approximately 10 million passengers stranded, he said.
"Those planning a trip to Europe who have not yet booked should be mindful of flight routes. It's impossible to predict the extent of potential disruptions, but multiple connections could increase one's chances of being impacted, especially if you're connecting through Northern Europe," said Schreier.
"Flight routes from Rome to New York often connect through Stockholm, Copenhagen or Berlin, for example, but US Airways flies direct while Air France offers the option to connect in Nice," Schreier noted.
"There's no guarantee, but a few simple precautions could go a long way to minimize potential inconvenience," he explained.
Travelers who have already booked their trips can still take steps to protect themselves in the event of a large-scale eruption similar to the 2010 incident.
"Unexpectedly extending one's European vacation may not sound like a hardship, but the financial toll can be a bitter pill to swallow. While the airline industry lost $1.7 billion during that infamous week in 2010, the cost for travelers was nothing to laugh at either as tourists scrambled to find accommodations. Hotel rates skyrocketed and many people found themselves spending far more than they budgeted," recalled Schreier.
"In cases like these, having travel protection seems like more than just a good idea, but not all policies are created equally," he warned. "Most insurance companies require policyholders to endure a lengthy claims process which often takes months to resolve. Meanwhile, the burden of covering unplanned expenses falls on the vacationer, placing them in the stressful position of shelling out money with no guarantee the insurance company won't find an out-clause later on," Schreier cautioned.
"Even if the insurance company does ultimately reimburse travelers in the end, this does little to mitigate the stress policyholders are forced to endure as they await adjudication," said Schreier. "This is why it's very important to research an insurance policy to determine not only the events which will trigger coverage, but also the procedures travelers will have to follow," he added.
"Stress Less Benefits provide peace of mind and make planning a trip worry-free for U.S. travelers as they know our coverage kicks in immediately on all applicable issues so they won't have to go out of pocket," said Schreier, noting that passengers can purchase travel protection from APRIL up to the day prior to departure.
Stress Less Benefits address a wide range of potential inconveniences that can't be predicted in advance, including severe weather or natural disasters as well as injury, sickness, death, job loss or relocations, supplier default, terrorism, military duty, strikes and more.
APRIL also recommends upgrading to Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage, which allows policyholders to cancel even if their plans are not certain to be affected.