Travel insurance expert’s top 3 tips for Aussies stranded in New Caledonia amid riots

Male passenger sits on his suitcase on an airfield runway and covers his head in his hands. He looks tired and frustrated. Perhaps his plane got cancelled or delayed. Perhaps he missed his plane. Sun shines in the background where an airplane takes off.
Edited by Travel Weekly


    Air traffic in the French territory of New Caledonia remains at a standstill with both the domestic and international airports closed.

    Flights to and from Nouméa’-La Tontouta international airport were cancelled on Tuesday and aren’t expected to resume until Friday 17 May at the earliest.

    France has declared a state of emergency on the Pacific island after four people, including a police officer, were killed in riots over voting reform on the French-ruled island.

    Locked in by curfews, Australians stranded on the island are feeling the financial strain as they grapple with the mounting costs of resort living, “burning holes in their pockets”.

    Natalie Ball, managing director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, advises that unexpected riots and subsequent airport closures are one of the many reasons to purchase travel insurance.

    “Would-be holidaymakers should contact their airline or travel agent to check what options are available to alter their trip in the first instance. Travel providers often provide penalty-free options to amend travel arrangements in circumstances such as these.

    “Savvy travellers that took out comprehensive travel insurance, will likely be reimbursed for their prepaid, unused, and non-refundable travel expenses.  Additional meals and accommodation expenses incurred due to a necessary extended stay are also likely to be covered.”

    Ball highlights the importance of taking out insurance as soon as you book your holiday.

    “For anyone that was planning to travel to New Caledonia this week that didn’t purchase travel insurance, unfortunately, won’t have cover for this event.”

    For cruisers, there won’t be any lines docking at Nouméa this week. There may be provision to claim for missed ports depending on the policy you purchased.

    Aussies currently stranded in New Caledonia should contact their airline and travel insurance provider about their options as soon as practicable, Ball said.

    Travellers are advised to take safety precautions, keep a low profile, follow the advice of authorities, and keep receipts for an easy claims process.

    Minor protests can unexpectedly escalate quickly. The travel experts at comparetravelinsurance.com.au offer their top three tips to help you avoid or manage civil unrest while overseas.

    Top 3 tips while travelling amid unrest in New Caledonia

    1. Stay safe and avoid danger
      Even peaceful protests and rallies can turn violent at short notice.  If you’re safe where you are, stay put.  If it’s not safe where you are, get yourself to safety and remain there. If you encounter a demonstration or find yourself caught up in a riot, don’t stick around to observe it. Leave the area immediately and find an alternate route to your destination. New Caledonia has imposed a curfew from 6 PM to 6 AM in metropolitan Nouméa. Outside of these hours, it’s important to minimise movements.  Before heading out, identify where demonstrations are taking place and avoid those areas. Always follow the advice of local authorities.
    2. Be Informed
      It’s important to keep abreast of events as they unfold.  Monitor the media for the latest news by whatever means you have available, including social media.  We encourage travellers to subscribe to Smartraveller to receive regular updates for New Caledonia. It’s also important to know the local emergency contacts available for the region.  You can find these published on Smartraveller’s destination page for New Caledonia.
    3. Inform others
      Tell family, friends, or your business associates where and how you are.  They’ve likely heard news of the civil unrest and will fear for your safety. If you are in a volatile situation, you should call the local embassy and your travel insurance provider.

    For consular assistance, contact Australian Consulate-General in Noumea.

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