A major travel insurer has said people won't be able to make claims to cover any extra travel or accommodation expenses caused by the Auckland Airport fuel crisis if they bought the policy after 10am yesterday.

Thousands of travellers yesterday faced delays and disruptions to their travel plans amid flight cancellations caused by an aviation fuel shortage after the pipeline carrying the fuel burst on Thursday. Problems are expected to continue this week.

But in a statement on its website Southern Cross Travel Insurance said as the situation was not considered to be unexpected from 10am yesterday, extra expenses would not be covered for policies taken out after then.

"As this situation is not considered to be unexpected from this date and time, there is no cover under your policy for any expenses you may incur as a result of Auckland Airport fuel crisis delays or cancellations.

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"You will still be covered for other unexpected events according to the terms and conditions of your policy."

Those who bought insurance before the cut-off were covered but were urged to contact their service provider first.

"Airlines, accommodation providers and tour companies may provide refunds, credit notes or alter your bookings without charging additional fees."

Southern Cross said people were currently overseas and had their return to New Zealand affected would automatically have their policy extended until they were able to return on the next available flight.

Meanwhile the Insurance Council has urged travellers caught up in the fuel shortage disruption to contact their airline or travel provider first before going to their insurer.

Chief executive Tim Grafton said: "Travel providers may be able to rebook your arrangements without extra costs."

"If you do suffer extra costs, make sure you keep receipts. As always, check your policy wording and talk to your insurer to understand what costs your insurance policy covers you for," he said.

Grafton also stressed the need for travellers to purchase insurance when they booked and paid for tickets and not just before they travelled.

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"Likewise, if you book a trip and buy insurance after events like a fuel shortage have been publicised, you will not have cover for those events," he said.