The occurrence of a politically motivated terrorist attack grabs the immediate attention of travelers. This is especially true when the attack takes place in a country the traveler is scheduled to visit or is already visiting. How can travelers protect their travel costs and ensure medical care and evacuation coverage in the case of a terrorist attack? Most insurance companies rely on the U.S. State Department to publicly declare an attack to be terrorism as the deciding factor that allows for coverage. Once that is established, there are two separate time periods during which most travel insurance plans will cover insured travelers:
• after they buy their insurance plan but before they leave on their trip
• during the trip
Insurance for Terrorism Before Your Trip Leaves
Consider this situation: You are leaving on a two-week tour of India next Wednesday. Your prepaid itinerary includes a scheduled visit to the city of Mumbai. On Saturday before your trip a bomb explodes in downtown Mumbai killing people. The U.S. State Department publicly declares that this was an act of terrorism. When you booked your trip you bought a comprehensive travel insurance policy with terrorism coverage. Now you want to cancel your trip to India. How does the travel insurance plan protect you?
• You may cancel the trip because the terrorism occurred within a city on your pre-booked travel schedule, within 30 days of departure, and after the effective date of your Trip Cancellation coverage.
• You will normally receive up to a full refund of your prepaid trip cost.
• Some plans, however, may only reimburse you in the form of a credit allowing you to rebook a future trip.
• If you want a cash refund, you need to check insurance plan terms before buying. But be sure it provides a refund, not a travel credit.
• Purchasing Tip: Usually a travel insurance plan you buy from a travel agent or from an insurance company will have stronger coverage than a plan you buy directly from the travel company taking you on the trip.
Insurance for Terrorism During Your Trip
Consider this situation: You are on your trip to India. While riding the train into the city of Mumbai, a bomb goes off in the passenger car in front of you. People are killed and you are rescued uninjured with others from the damaged train. Now you want to return home from India as soon as possible. How does the travel insurance plan protect you?
• Trip Interruption coverage will reimburse your additional expenses for transportation home not included in the prepaid trip cost.
• It covers your prepaid costs of unused, non-refundable land or sea travel not yet taken before your trip was interrupted.
• Worldwide emergency travel assistance from a good insurance company will help arrange to get you home, or to safety and then home.
Consider this situation: You are seriously injured during the same terrorist attack on the train going into Mumbai. You need immediate medical attention. How does the travel insurance plan protect you?
• Your emergency medical expenses and medical evacuation expenses are normally covered.
• Your insurance company will provide a medical consultant to arrange your medical transport, treatment and payment with healthcare providers.
• A good insurance plan will pay to fly your dependant child or children home. It may pay for an adult to fly to your bedside if no one is with you.
• Your coverage will prepay or reimburse your additional expenses for transportation home not included in the prepaid trip cost.
• Worldwide emergency travel assistance will arrange to get you home, with a medical attendant if needed, when you are able to travel.
Why Would You NOT be Covered for Terrorism?
When does travel insurance not protect you for terrorism and why?
• You have already booked your trip to India and hear Mumbai might be a terrorist target. You want to cancel even though nothing happened yet.
• You are scheduled to travel to Mumbai, India, on May 15. The terrorist attack occurs on March 20. You want to cancel. The attack did not occur within 30 days of your scheduled departure so there is no coverage.
• You are scheduled to visit Mumbai, India, and a terrorist attack occurs in Goa, India. You are not scheduled to visit Goa so there is no coverage.
• Your prepaid itinerary does not include visiting Mumbai. During your trip you go there on your own. A terrorist attack occurs while you are there. There is no coverage. You did not include Mumbai in your prepaid plans.
To cancel prior to your trip and obtain coverage that might otherwise be denied, such as due to fear an attack might happen, a “Cancel For Any Reason ” upgrade is an option that most travel insurance companies offer. It allows you to cancel up to two days prior to departure, usually for a partial refund of up to 75% of prepaid trip costs. Most such plans must be purchased with 14 days of your initial trip deposit.
How will travel insurance protect you in the face of terrorist threats and actual acts of terrorism? It pays to know the facts. If you purchase travel insurance for terrorism coverage, make sure you fully understand your options.