Health & Medical

Earthquake and Tsunami Advice

Reading time: 3 minutes

Am I covered?

As long as you bought your policy before the earthquake event struck and the tsunami warning was issued, there are many parts of your policy against which you could make a claim if you’re out of pocket. Sometimes, though, there are multiple quakes over a short period of time which would all be considered the same event (for insurance purposes). So, as soon as you start making travel plans, consider taking out insurance so you’re covered before any event occurs.

First and foremost, if you are in the middle of the disaster and injured we will arrange for you to get immediate medical attention. Just call our emergency assistance team on +61 2 9234 3123 or +61 2 8256 1523.

Even if you’re not injured, but you’re scared and unsure of what to do next, call us.

If your accommodation becomes uninhabitable, or is ordered to close by authorities, or is in a location that is cordoned off, there’s coverage for cancellation costs… talk to our customer service team or lodge a claim to check your coverage.

The same applies if pre-paid travel components such as tours and flights are cancelled.

As you’ll see from our advice below, if there’s the threat of a tsunami don’t wait around, and don’t worry about your belongings. Just grab the essentials like your passport and credit cards and get to safety. If your clothes are lost in the disaster, they’re covered. You can replace clothes, we can’t replace you… your safety comes first.

Can I cancel because I don’t want to go anymore?

Sorry, no. We don’t cover “change of mind”. Our insurance – and most insurance in Australia – is designed to recompense you for monetary losses over which you had no control. If the planes are flying, the hotel’s opening, the tours are running, then there’s no financial loss to be covered.

But, if you’re really worried, you could talk to the airline, hotel and tour provider and ask for a refund, or ask to reschedule to another time. However, this won’t be covered by your travel insurance.

Warning signs of an impending tsunami – and what to do.

Tsunamis are caused by undersea earthquakes, so if you feel an earthquake that lasts for 20 seconds or longer or should the sea suddenly recede from the shoreline, or you hear a loud roar, do not wait for an official order to evacuate; move immediately to higher ground.

If there are no hills close to where you are, get inside a high-rise hotel, office block or apartment block and head to the top floor, or at least a few floors up. The heavy-set structure of these buildings should be more than enough to prevent toppling from tsunami waters.

Remain on higher ground for several hours. As tsunamis consist of a series of waves, the first wave to arrive may not be the largest. Waves can arrive up to an hour apart, so do not presume that it is safe to return to low-lying areas once the first wave has subsided.

Be cautious with warnings and ‘all clear’ advice. In some cases, authorities have delivered radio broadcasts giving an all clear for people to descend from the hill, only to be trumped by a second, third or fourth wave.

After the tsunami

  • Natural disasters can disrupt water supplies and sewage systems. If bottled water is not available, water should be boiled or disinfected.
  • Food should be carefully chosen to reduce the risk of getting gastrointestinal illness.
  • Lung infections may occur after inhalation of sea water.
  • Disasters resulting in massive structural damage can also result in exposure to chemical or biological contaminants (e.g., asbestos).
  • The floodwaters may have flushed a host of dangerous animals, such as snakes and scorpions, out of their normal environment.

Preparing for a tsunami

If you are travelling to areas that are known to be tsunami hotspots, it is vital to be prepared. Inside your travel pack, make sure you keep an emergency kit in case you need to make a dash in the middle of the night.



In it keep basic food, water, climate-appropriate clothing, and if possible a small first aid kit. However, try your best to keep it light so you can pick it up and scamper in an instant.

Talk to the locals about what tsunami warning systems are in place, so you recognise them when you hear them, or can access information quickly.

Also talk to them about the local emergency evacuation plan:; where to go, how to get there, etc.

This is general advice only and you should read the PDS for the full terms, conditions and exclusions that apply to your policy.


TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.


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