Imagine the scene; after months of waiting, New Zealand resumes the travel bubble with the Cook Islands.
Your family of four purchase travel insurance, book flights and pay around $180 each for mandatory PCR tests, the results of which must arrive within 48 hours of departure.
Then, a cyclone tears through Rarotonga and your flight is rescheduled for the following day. Not only is your holiday postponed a day but $720 worth of PCR test results will no longer be valid.
So, who is responsible for the cost of new PCR tests?
Do you actually need a new PCR test?
Whether or not you'll need another PCR test depends on how quickly you can get another flight, according to the Cook Islands government.
If you're delayed or rebooked on a flight that leaves less than 24 hours after the original flight's departure time, you can skip the PCR test.
Instead, you can take a supervised Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) 12 hours before the new scheduled departure time.
Those who are rebooked on a flight that leaves more than 24 hours after their initial departure time, must provide a PCR test.
Customers will likely have to cover it
Since PCR tests are required by the Cook Islands government and weather is an uncontrollable event for airlines, passengers will most likely have to front up the cost said Consumer NZ's Gemma Rasmussen.
"Unfortunately, any passengers in this situation will have to pay for the PCR tests themselves, because the tests are required by the Cook Islands government as a precondition of entry, and disruptions to air travel due to weather are out of the airline's control," she said.
Airlines won't cover it
An Air New Zealand spokesperson seconded Rasmussen, saying Air New Zealand would not cover the cost for additional PCR tests.
However, if you purchased Air New Zealand's travel insurance, you're in luck.
Insurance could pull through
"If a customer has the Air New Zealand travel insurance policy, this covers the cost of a new PCR test, if the reason for the new test is related to the weather event," the spokesperson said.
Similarly, those with Southern Cross Travel Insurance would also have their replacement PCR tests covered.
"If a customer's original journey is disrupted by an event that's covered by our policy, such as an unexpected weather event or Covid-19 diagnosis, they can claim for their costs of rescheduling their original trip," said Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO, Jo McCauley.
This includes getting an updated pre-departure PCR test.
The cost for a passenger's original PCR test, however, is not covered, said McCauley.
Cover More also have a similar arrangement for delays where the traveller is not at fault.
Specific reference to weather-related events is no accident. Many insurance policies limit the cover they provide if the costs relate to Government-mandated border restrictions or closures.
Advice from the experts
Not all insurance companies would pick up the bill, which is why it's more important than ever to read the fine print when booking travel said Consumer NZ's Rassmussen.
"It's important that travellers read all terms of conditions associated with travel and accommodation, so they have a full understanding of what they're paying for and any additional costs they may be liable for," Rasmussen said.
Policy fine print is perplexing at the best of times and has been made more confusing with additional Covid-19 exemptions and coverage.
"There's no denying that travel is more complex in 2022," said Flight Centre Travel Group's Victoria Courtney.
"The best piece of advice we can give New Zealanders during this time is to consider booking through your local travel agent."