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Only 1 in 5 insurers cover volcanic ash

"Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded," Iceland Met Office said.
By Brooks Hays   |   Aug. 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM   |   Comments

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- If travel plans are disrupted by Iceland's smoldering Bardarbunga volcano, many Europeans may not get any sympathy from their insurers. A recent report by United Kingdom's Telegraph shows only one in five travel insurance companies in Europe cover volcanic ash.

Earthquakes continue to shake the grounds surrounding Bardarbunga, a major subglacial volcanic system in Iceland. This week featured the largest quake there in 20 years, and 3,000 smaller quakes have been recorded since August 16. But though the rumbling continues, and the Bardarbunga continues to smolder, it has yet to erupt.

If it does, however, airlines all over the world could be affected and travelers could find themselves stranded. It's happened before. In 2010, Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted and a giant ash cloud spread out over Europe. Some 100,000 flights had to be cancelled. The event cost airlines $1.7 billion in revenue losses.

If such were to happen again, many travelers might be shortchanged too, as Telegraph researchers found only five out of 20 major insurers compensate travelers for losses due to volcanic ash -- Age U.K., Biba Protect, John Lewis, Saga and Sainsbury's.

Although it's exceedingly difficult to predict how the weather might affect the spewed ash, it's looking increasingly likely that Bardarbunga will erupt.

"Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission," Iceland's meteorological office said.

Airlines and aviation officials are watching the situation closely, and are hopeful that they'll be able to better handle the aftermath of an eruption this time around. "Europe is more prepared to deal with volcanic ash these days," Eurocontrol said in a statement. "We have better mechanisms in place than we did in 2010."

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