For most people, the worst thing that can happen to them on holiday is a missed flight, a stolen wallet, getting sick or having a minor accident. If you’ve been smart and bought some cheap travel insurance, you’ll probably be covered for these commonplace holiday mishaps.
But in some countries, travellers face the risk of much more serious disturbances to their holidays. Wars, civil disorder and even terrorism are among the dangers that you may face, and even if you’ve bought travel insurance, it may not be able to help you in these situations. It is vital for UK travellers to know how these extreme circumstances can affect their travel insurance, and what precautions to take before they go – travelling to a dangerous area with inadequate insurance cover can be a recipe for disaster.
War and Civil Disorder
If you travel to a country that is at war or suffering a serious political disturbance, it is one of the surest ways to invalidate your travel insurance – most standard insurance policies will not cover you if you travel to an area that is known to be unstable or in conflict. If a coup or civil disturbance breaks out while you are actually in the country, holiday insurance policies vary – some still won’t cover you, even if the event was relatively unexpected, whereas others will provide some degree of cover.
A new potential threat for travellers in the 21st century is terrorism. Terrorist attacks are sudden, violent and unpredictable and, aside from the obvious risk of injury or death, a terrorist incident in the country you are travelling in can lead to the delay or cancellation of your holiday. Much like war and civil disorder, terrorism covers from policy to policy. Some provide no cover at all, while others offer you the full benefits of travel insurance in the event of a terrorist incident.
What to do
If you are concerned about civil disturbance or terrorism and how it might affect your travel insurance, there are two important things you need to know:
- What is the risk of terrorism or civil disturbance is the destination you are travelling to?
- What is in the small print of your travel insurance concerning war, civil disturbance and terrorism?
Research your destination before you go – The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website is the best place to check up on the political situation in your destination. Read it carefully; some countries that are otherwise safe to travel in have total no-go areas (such as the Darian gap in Panama and the tribal belt in Pakistan.) If a country or region is flagged under “Do not travel under any circumstances”, the chances are that your insurance company isn’t going to cover you if you travel there.
Once you’ve assessed the level of risk in a particular country, you’ll know what level of cover you need from your travel insurance. Terrorism cover is becoming increasingly commonplace, even with cheap travel insurance, but cover for war and civil disturbance is increasingly hard to come by.
Make sure you know the risks, and get the best possible cover for your circumstances. Most people buy travel insurance and barely look at the small print, but with a little online research, you can get a comprehensive policy that perfectly suits your personal needs.