In recent years, natural events such as forest fires, storms and floods have unfortunately increased in frequency and intensity. In this blog article, we take a look at travel cancellation options due to natural disasters and differentiate between individual and package tours. Furthermore, we highlight the role of travel insurance and what options travelers have in such cases.
Individual travel and travel cancellation options
Who is in charge?
In the case of individual travel, travelers are usually responsible for booking their accommodation, flights and activities. In cases where natural events, such as wildfires, occur near the destination, they are faced with the challenge of adjusting their plans or possibly canceling them altogether.
Is it possible to withdraw from the trip?
Basically, it depends on whether the hotel, the airline or other travel companies have granted cancellation rights at the time of booking.
Hotels often offer free cancellation options until shortly before the start of the trip. However, depending on the platform or hotel, cancellation fees may also apply.
Flights can usually only be cancelled if the airport cannot be approached, i.e. if the airport itself is affected by a natural disaster. Thus, a free cancellation is often not possible.
Rebook free of charge
In many cases, airlines often offer free rebooking options in the event of unforeseen natural events. So you may not be able to withdraw from the trip altogether, but at least you can set the travel date at a safer time.
What to look for when booking
Book flexibly or cancellable
When booking flights, accommodations, and activities, be sure to see if there are free cancellation options. Many providers offer flexible booking options that allow travel plans to be changed or cancelled at no additional cost.
Travel cancellation insurance with booking
Travel cancellation insurance can be a valuable hedge. If natural phenomena or unforeseen events affect the travel plans and you have to cancel the trip, the cancellation insurance can cover the costs incurred. It is important to emphasize that the exact conditions and possibilities for a trip cancellation depend on the booking conditions of the respective provider and the insurance taken out – so please always read the fine print.
Package tours and cancellation options
Who is in charge?
In contrast to individual travel, a package tour includes an entire package that includes flights, accommodation and often activities. Here, travelers usually have more security, as the tour operator has a greater responsibility .
When can a cancellation be possible?
In cases of natural events, package travellers have the following options:
- Travel warnings: If the Federal Foreign Office or comparable authorities warn against travel to certain areas due to natural disasters, package travellers usually have the right to withdraw from the trip.
- Cancellation of the trip by the organizer: If the natural phenomenon occurs before the start of the trip and the package cannot be carried out, the organiser should be obliged to cancel the trip and refund the travel price.
- Dangerous situation: If you put yourself in danger by starting your trip (e.g. the place is currently on fire), a free cancellation may also be possible. However, the start of the journey and the dangerous situation must be close in time. Locally, too, the catastrophe must coincide with the actual holiday resort. For example, if your holiday destination is 60km away from the site of the forest fire, this may not be sufficient as a reason for cancellation.
Of course, there are also booking conditions for package tours, which usually regulate the claims in such cases. Apart from that, it is always possible to withdraw from these trips for a cancellation fee, how much the payment is, this is usually regulated in the terms and conditions of the purchase contract.
Get in touch and find a solution
If you are unable to take a booked trip due to a forest fire or other natural events, you should not simply not start the trip under any circumstances.
Get in touch with your tour operator and clarify the current situation with them. Maybe he can offer you a travel alternative in a safe area. So everyone is helped.
Whether it’s an individual or package tour, travel insurance can be a decisive factor in protecting yourself against unforeseen events. Depending on the type of travel insurance and the specific conditions, travelers may have the following benefits, among others:
- Cancellation insurance: Cancellation insurance covers the cost of cancelling or rebooking the trip due to unexpected events such as natural disasters.
- Travel interruption insurance: This insurance takes effect if a trip has to be terminated prematurely due to natural events. It covers the cost of unused travel services.
- Emergency assistance: Travel insurance companies often also offer emergency assistance, which supports the traveler in case of difficulties abroad.