Traveler’s Guide: Handling Natural Disasters Abroad


Wondering how to prepare for natural disasters? Travel insurance can ensure a safeguarded journey back home, with most costs covered if your trip plans are derailed by an unanticipated natural disaster, should you plan wisely.

Insurers define natural disasters as damaging incidents caused by weather or geological forces like tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires. Some insurers classify major storms like hurricanes and typhoons as natural hazards, while others categorize them as severe weather events.

Are you planning to explore new places for your next vacation? We know that natural disasters and emergencies might not be the first things on your mind when you’re on holiday, but being better prepared in this case can be life-saving. You never know what’s going to happen!

But fret not, this Pacific Prime CXA article will give you a lowdown on how to handle natural disasters while you’re on your vacation, and why you should secure yourself a travel insurance plan before setting off abroad.

Things to Do Before You Set Off

Before you pack your bags and make your way to the airport, it’s wise to do thorough research on your travel destination while crafting your itinerary. This includes noting the worst times to visit your destination.

For instance, Taiwan and Hong Kong experience peak typhoon seasons during July-August. Being aware of such valuable information can help you prepare better for potential crises that may arise.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at more things we recommend you do before catching your flight.

Secure a Travel Insurance Plan

Travel insurance is often a divisive topic, with some travelers viewing it as a burden. However, it’s undeniable that many have benefitted from having travel insurance, as it provides protection before, during, and after your trip.

Therefore, we advise you to carefully review the available coverage options and select the one that matches best with your travel itinerary.

Register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Most Singaporeans overlook registering with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before traveling abroad. This allows the ministry to contact you during emergencies, ensure your safety, assist if necessary, and inform your loved ones.

To do this, you can easily complete this process through their website. Should a disaster occur, remember to reach out to the Singapore Embassy or High Commission in your destination country.

Inform Your Emergency Contacts

Share your travel itinerary, including flight details, hotel information, and any planned activities or excursions with your emergency contacts so they know your whereabouts.

During an emergency, your contacts can quickly provide this information to relevant authorities to help locate and assist you.

Prepare a Handy Kit

Be sure to make copies of your necessary documents, and pack essential items such as medications, first-aid supplies, extra cash, and fully charged power banks. Pack these items in a lightweight bag for better movement in case you need to evacuate.

Memorize, or Have a Hard Copy of Your Emergency Contacts

Memorize or carry a physical copy of important emergency contact information. In case your mobile phone or other electronic devices run out of power, having these numbers on hand will let you reach out for help easier.

Things to Do When Disaster Strikes While You’re Abroad

Natural disasters

From earthquakes and hurricanes to tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, being aware of the appropriate actions can save your own life and others.

Let’s take a closer look below at the critical steps to take for each type of natural disaster:

What to Do During an Earthquake

During an earthquake, immediately drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops. Avoid standing near windows, doors, or anything that could fall. When outside, move to an open area away from buildings, trees, and power lines.

For those in a moving vehicle, pull over in a safe location away from hazards and remain inside the vehicle. If trapped under debris, stay calm, limit movement, cover your mouth to avoid inhaling dust, and signal rescuers by tapping on nearby debris.

What to Do During a Hurricane

If you’re caught in a hurricane area, it’s best to inform your family of your situation right away. Stay away from beaches due to flood risks, and stay indoors until the storm passes until it’s all-clear. If possible, evacuate the area by any means of transportation before the hurricane strikes.

What to Do During a Tsunami

How do you know if a Tsunami is coming? Early signs of an approaching tsunami include receding ocean water exposing the seafloor and a loud roaring sound akin to a train or jet.

Do not wait for evacuation orders. Immediately head inland for at least 2-3 kilometers or to a higher ground at a minimum of 30 meters above sea level. Stay there until an all-clear is given.

What to Do During a Flood

Heavy flooding can occur from tsunamis or hurricanes. If this happens, move to higher ground and wait for rescue teams. Do not attempt to walk or swim through floodwaters as currents may be strong.

Also, beware of power lines and wildlife. If you’re exposed to floodwaters, clean yourself thoroughly afterward, as the water may contain sewage or chemicals. If you’re in a vehicle, stop and remain inside as continuing could leave you stranded.

What to Do During a Volcanic Eruption

If an eruption occurs, immediately evacuate the danger zone. Once you are indoors, close all doors and windows. Use damp cloths or dust masks to protect yourself against volcanic ash, rocks, and gases.

Be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and avoid wearing contact lenses. Keep your eyes peeled for updates, and follow official instructions.

What to Do During a Fire

Fires, whether naturally caused (lightning) or human-induced (arson, accidents), spread rapidly. If a fire breaks out, alert others and evacuate by stairs, not elevators.

Do not open hot doors. If you’re trapped, try to seal door cracks, open a window, and signal others outside for help. If clothes catch fire, remember to stop, drop, and roll to smother the flames and cool burns with water.

Travel Insurance Coverage for Natural Disasters

Travel insurance for natural disasters

Most comprehensive travel insurance policies provide coverage for natural disasters, providing crucial protection and assistance in various situations. Here is how travel insurance can help if you encounter a natural disaster of sorts during your travels:

Evacuation Costs

If a natural disaster strikes and you need to evacuate the area urgently, your travel insurance will cover the necessary evacuation expenses. This could include costs for transportation, accommodation, and meals during the evacuation process.

Travel Delays/Interruption

Your travel insurance will reimburse you for reasonable additional accommodation and meal costs incurred if your trip is delayed or interrupted for a specified number of days as a result of the natural disaster.

Medical Emergencies

Should you sustain injuries or require medical treatment due to a natural disaster, your travel health insurance policy will cover the costs of your medical care. This includes expenses for emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, and even medical evacuation or repatriation if necessary.

Trip Cancellation

If you unfortunately need to cancel your trip due to a natural disaster, your travel insurance can offer reimbursement for a substantial portion or even the full cost of your non-refundable, prepaid trip expenses, such as flights, accommodations, and tours.

Get Insured with Pacific Prime CXA

In conclusion, having comprehensive travel insurance coverage that covers natural disasters is crucial for any traveler. While natural disasters are often unpredictable and unavoidable, being insured can provide a much-needed safety net and peace of mind during grave situations.

By purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you can travel with confidence. While no one can predict the occurrence of a natural disaster during their travels, having the right insurance can provide invaluable support, assistance, and financial protection.

And this is where Pacific Prime CXA comes in. With over 20 years of reputation as one of the world’s leading insurance brokerages, our team of experts specializes in tailoring travel insurance and individual health insurance coverages to align with the unique needs and budget of each individual.

Contact us today to receive impartial insurance advice or a free plan comparison.

Veerabhatr is a content writer with over 6 years of experience with a particular penchant for storytelling and marketing, both in print and online. He now works with an experienced team of writers at Pacific Prime, aiming to shed light on the essence and benefits of insurance for companies and individuals by creating engaging, informative content across multiple platforms.

After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences, International Relations from Mahidol University International College, Veerabhatr has forged his career as a content writer in the travel, lifestyle, and real estate industries, writing in both English and Thai. He now continues to hone his skills as a writer at Pacific Prime, looking to engage and educate the audience by simplifying insurance.

Writer by day, and a DJ by night, Veerabhatr is a staunch music lover, and listens to all spectrums of genres available. He also loves to drink beer (moderately), eat all types of food, go to the beach, and learn about different cultures across the globe. He is also a die-hard fan of football and motorsports.

Veerabhatr Sriyananda
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