Why some travel insurers are refusing to pay Brisbane flood claims

By danwarne, January 14 2011
Why some travel insurers are refusing to pay Brisbane flood claims

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The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

If you suffered from delayed flights or had your luggage or property damaged while travelling in Brisbane during the floods, will your travel insurance cover it?

Australian Business Traveller asked a selection of Australia's major travel insurers to what extent -- if any -- their policies cover the floods.

The bad news is that travel insurers have generally drawn a line on policies issued after 30th December: they say that by that date, enough information about the floods was available to the public that the risks where known. If someone still bought a policy after that date they will not be able to make flood-related claims.

Worst of the insurers is QBE Insurance -- the brand sold by Qantas online -- which is playing particularly hardball. QBE maintains that people who bought a policy after 24th December won't be covered for Brisbane- or NSW-flood related claims.

Here is where you stand with five of Australia's largest travel insurance companies.

Travel Insurance Direct (TID)

Australian policyholders forced to cancel travel plans if their homes are inundated by floods will be able to claim assistance if they bought a policy from Travel Insurance Direct prior to 31st December, the insurer says.

However, people who bought a policy from Travel Insurance Direct on or after 31st December -- when news of the floods as a disaster started coming out -- will not be covered, according to TID.

“Help is available for those worst affected by the floods as well as those whose travel plans have been ruined by the floods,” Travel Insurance Direct General Manager Ian Jackson told Australian Business Traveller. “But it’s important to remember travel insurance must always be purchased in advance – if you leave it until events are already unfolding you won’t be covered.”

Individuals whose houses were declared uninhabitable or subject to evacuation orders would be able to claim expenses if they needed to cancel travel or cut short their holidays to return home.

Cover was also valid for those who had planned to travel to Queensland and other areas affected by flooding. Mr Jackson said policy holders could claim if their pre-booked transport was cancelled, if their accommodation was declared uninhabitable due to flooding or if they were prevented from reaching their accommodation.

The company also said travellers would need to try to get refunds from travel and accommodation providers first, as "Your insurer is there if you’re unsuccessful in getting alternative arrangements or refunds.”

For more info, visit Travel Insurance Direct.

QBE Travel Insurance

QBE Travel Insurance, which is the travel insurance advertised by Qantas with every ticket sale, says it will not cover any Brisbane or NSW flood related claims for policies purchased after 24th December 2010.

QBE told Australian Business Traveller "where travel insurance is purchased along with a trip well before a major disruption or natural disaster occurs, the insurer would have no reason to question the validity of the purchase."

For people that did buy a policy before then, QBE says it will honour claims for:

  • Cancellation costs for unused prepaid arrangements if you have not been able to complete pre-paid travel plans as a result of the heavy rainfall / flooding.
  • Additional costs from changes to travel plans, including accommodation and transport expenses if your travel arrangements have been directly affected by the heavy rainfall / flooding. ("You must, however, take all reasonable steps to minimise your claim.")

If you are yet to depart on your trip and are affected by the floods, QBE will cover the following:

  • Change or cancellation fees if you had planned to stay in the affected areas.
  • Change or cancellation fees where you had pre-paid transport or tour services which have now been cancelled or restricted because of the flooding.
  • The cost of altering / delaying travel if it is less than the cost of cancelling it. If it's less expensive to cancel the trip, then QBE will cover the non-refundable amount.
  • Where pre-paid transport operators are allowing date changes of tickets and you don't need to make a claim on your travel insurance, you'll be able to change the insurance to cover the new dates of the trip.

For more info, see QBE's statement.


Chartis has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that travel insurance claims arising from the Brisbane floods are generally covered if the insurance policy was already in place "prior to the flooding". However, the insurance giant says that if an insured traveller "knew, or a reasonable person should have known, that their travel was likely to be disrupted when they took out travel insurance, then Chartis is unlikely to pay their claim."

Chartis also says any further travel disruptions caused by the flooding will be considered unexpected and will be generally covered subject to standard policy wording.

"As the flooding has steadily progressed through various regions of Queensland, each claim will be assessed in conjunction with announcements for each region. For example Bundaberg and Rockhampton were declared natural disaster situations by The Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh on the 29th of December 2010, significantly earlier than other areas in the state.

“Chartis travel insurance policy wordings generally contain clauses that indicate cover for floods, natural disasters, unforeseeable events and unforeseeable circumstances outside an insured’s control. Nevertheless, we urge insureds to consult their policy wordings,” stated Mark Kopec, Australasian Travel Insurance Manager, Chartis.

See Chartis' full statement.

World Nomads

World Nomads will not cover any flood related claim for travel insurance policies purchased after January 11th 2011, as it says the risk was well known by then. However, for people who bought travel insurance before then from World Nomads:

If you were travelling before 11th Jan 2011:

- For Australian policy holders, cover is only available for cancellation costs of international flights out of Australia.

- For New Zealand policy holders, injury as a result of floods may be covered; cancellation costs for travel is not available if the travel operator is continuing with normal schedule. (You are not covered for any claims for cancellation associated with these floods or if you change your mind to travel to these areas.)

If you are travelling after 11th Jan 2011:

- For Australian residents with flood deluged, uninhabitable homes, any pre-booked, non-refundable travel and accommodation costs can be covered.

- For New Zealand residents, you are not covered for travel cancellation costs if you change your mind about travelling to a flood affected area.

For more information, see World Nomads' statement.


Kerrie Fussell, Chief Operating Officer of Cover-More Travel Insurance, has confirmed that its policy responds to natural disasters and travellers affected by these floods will be covered.

However, only people who bought a policy before 30th December will be covered.

“For customers desperately wanting to return to Australia, Cover-More will be covering travel amendment costs where their home has been affected by the floods. For customers due to depart on a trip whose homes have been affected by the floods, Cover-More will reimburse out-of-pocket cancellation or amendment costs.”

More information and details coverage, Cover-More’s website is at Covermore.com.au.

We want to know...

Have you had trouble getting travel insurance coverage related to the Brisbane floods? Please post below or email us so we can work with the insurer on your behalf.


Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

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