Wildfires are uncontrolled fires in natural areas like forests, grasslands, brush, farmland, and more. They can cause incalculable damage not only to these natural areas, but also to nearby towns and the lives of people living in them. The recent bushfires in Australia began in June 2019 and have since burned about 72,000 square miles (186,000 square kilometers), destroyed almost 6,000 buildings, and killed an estimated one billion animals and 34 people. This example alone proves the destructive capability of a wildfire and the extent to which it can wreak havoc.

Fortunately, many travel insurance plans include natural disaster coverage, which would help you recoup any financial losses incurred should a wildfire disrupt your vacation plans. Keep reading to learn more about wildfires and how travel insurance, travel outside the U.S. medical insurance, and visitors to the U.S. insurance would protect you during such an event.

About Wildfires

Some sources estimate that as many as 90% of wildfires are caused by humans. This can happen either deliberately (through arson or prescribed fires that get out of control) or accidentally (via campfires, cigarette butts, playing with matches or fireworks, or improperly burning trash or debris). Lightning strikes are another known cause of wildfires. Especially during times of drought, collections of dead, dry matter like trees, leaves, sticks, and dry grass can catch quickly, causing the flames to spread beyond control in the blink of an eye. The region’s topography also plays a role in how quickly the wildfire spreads; fire tends to move rapidly uphill and slowly downhill.

Where and When Wildfires Occur

Theoretically, of course, a wildfire can ignite anywhere. However, certain regions of the world are prone to the kinds of fires that reach natural disaster proportions. From the vegetated regions of Australia to the Western Cape of South Africa to the numerous expansive forests and grasslands of North America and Europe, large tracts of undeveloped land bordering civilized areas are where wildfires typically threaten lives and property damage/loss occur. They are most likely to occur during dry seasons like summer, fall, and winter, when dead fuel and high winds are prevalent. These are the conditions under which a single unattended spark or flame has the potential to grow into something much more menacing.

How to Stay Safe from Wildfires

As you're planning your vacation, be aware of whether your destination or any of the surrounding areas has any history of wildfire activity. Also be aware of the area's climate; again, dry conditions and high winds in the spread of blazes. Sign up for alert systems like the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and NOAA Weather Radio to stay abreast of any developing situations.

In the event of a wildfire, be prepared to evacuate the area immediately if told to do so. If not, stay inside in a safe location or move away from not only the fire but also in the opposite direction as the wind is blowing. Look out for hot ash, blackened trees, and smoking debris or embers. Heat pockets on or in the ground could easily burn you or cause another fire. Try to use a device like an N95 mask or a NIOSH-certified respirator to keep your lungs clear of smoke and dust.

Finally, once they've been extinguished or burned themselves out, wildfires can drastically change entire landscapes. These cleared areas are at particular risk of flooding or flash flooding after heavy rain. Until natural vegetation and growth begins again (sometimes up to five years after a wildfire), burn sites can be a flood risk.

Wildfires and Travel Insurance

As stated above, wildfires are included in the natural disaster coverage portion of insurance policies. To meet the standard for coverage, the fire must result in "widespread and severe damage" in some policies, and in "migration of the human population for its safety" in others. Some policies state that the affected area must be officially declared a disaster area by the local government and have been deemed "uninhabitable or dangerous." Be sure to review your individual policy's certificate wording, and consider whether travel insurance, travel outside the U.S. medical insurance, or visitors to the U.S. medical insurance best fits your needs.

Travel insurance, available to U.S. and non-U.S. residents alike, protects pre-paid, non-refundable trip expenses like airfare, lodging, transportation, and more. Included in travel insurance are trip cancellation and trip interruption policies, both of which are crucial should a wildfire flare up near your destination. It covers pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs like airfare, lodging, transportation rentals (such as cars or snowmobiles), and others. Travel insurance includes both trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage, which could both be helpful during a natural disaster.

With trip cancellation insurance, you can cancel your trip for a limited number of reasons as listed in the certificate wording. If you qualify, your insurance will reimburse you for the costs of any non-refundable deposits and expenses as listed above. Trip cancellation insurance applies when you are unable to follow through on your intended travel plans. If a nearby wildfire causes the closure of your hotel or the airport, or if it cancels flights for at least 24 hours, you would be eligible to make a claim. You must also be unable to make alternate travel reservations or arrangements.

However, cancel for any reason travel insurance (available to U.S. residents only) gives you more freedom to decide whether your trip is still worth taking, regardless of whether you are technically able to go. Within general parameters of the policy--such as purchasing the insurance within a certain duration of your trip deposit, insuring all pre-paid trip costs, and cancelling at least 48 hours in advance--you can cancel for any reason you so choose, including those not covered in general trip cancellation insurance.

If a wildfire were to flare up in the middle of your vacation, you would qualify for trip interruption coverage. This type of coverage would reimburse you for your remaining non-refundable trip costs, and some would even pay for alternate lodging and travel arrangements for an unexpected return. Conversely, if a wildfire were to occur near your home while you're on vacation, some trip interruption policies would cover the cost of a one-way, economy-class ticket back home to give you a better chance to assess the damage and salvage your belongings.

Travel medical insurance and visitors medical insurance also offer various forms of natural disaster coverage. Travel medical insurance is intended for both U.S. and non-U.S. residents planning trips that don't involve the U.S. Visitors medical insurance is geared toward people visiting the U.S., whether citizens of other countries or U.S. citizens who live abroad and are planning a brief trip to the U.S. Both travel medical and visitors medical insurance offer trip interruption (or interruption of trip) coverage, natural disaster evacuation coverage, and natural disaster replacement accommodations.

Different plans offer different levels of natural disaster evacuation coverage. Most would cover the cost of the evacuation in the event of a wildfire. Make sure to read the policy and determine how much coverage you think you would need before you purchase. To receive the benefits, submit to the insurance company proof of payment for any activities or events from which you were displaced. You may also be eligible for reimbursement for any expenses directly or indirectly related to any items in the plan's General Exclusions language.

Lastly, many visitors medical insurance plans include a natural disaster replacement accommodations benefit. If a wildfire were to displace you from your reserved and pre-paid hotel stay, you would receive a daily stipend for a limited number of days to fund the cost of replacement accommodations.


Like almost any natural disaster, a wildfire could strike at any time. Don’t let an approaching blaze ruin your bank account as well as your vacation. As you’re planning your trip, make sure to purchase travel insurance, travel outside the U.S. medical insurance, and visitors to the U.S. medical insurance as a safety net should the worst occur. If you have any questions, or if you need help selecting the policy that’s right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our licensed, experienced representatives.

Did you know?

Prices are regulated by law.

You cannot find a lower price anywhere for the same product.

Learn More

Why buy insurance from Insubuy?

Same Price. Better Service.®

There are many advantages in purchasing from Insubuy and no disadvantages.

Learn More

Visiting USA?

Healthcare costs are very high in the U.S.

Buy U.S. based visitors insurance and enjoy your trip.

Learn More

Traveling abroad?

Did you know that your insurance may not cover you abroad or that it may only provide limited coverage?

Purchase travel medical insurance that includes emergency medical evacuation.

Learn More

New immigrant to USA?

You are not eligible to enroll in Medicare for the first 5 years.

Purchase new immigrant medical insurance to bridge the gap.

Learn More

Going on a vacation?

You could lose your non-refundable trip costs if you had to cancel your trip.

Buy a trip cancellation insurance package plan and be worry-free.

Learn More

Are you an exchange visitor to USA?

The U.S. Department of State requires all J visa holders to purchase compliant insurance.

Buy J visa medical insurance to meet your requirements.

Learn More

Traveling to Europe?

Schengen countries require most non-US citizens to purchase Schengen visa insurance.

Make an instant purchase online and get instant visa letter.

Learn More

Traveling frequently throughout the year?

You don't need to purchase travel insurance for every trip.

Purchase annual multi trip travel insurance for your travels.

Learn More

International student in the U.S.?

Most schools require international students to purchase health insurance.

Purchase international student health insurance that meets most school requirements.

Learn More