Tuesday 6 December 2016

Travel & Terrorism Q&A: What does my travel insurance cover?

Travel Insider

Published 09/11/2015 | 12:23

Russian tourists at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
Russian tourists at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
A security personnel patrols a skywalk near the site of a blast in central Bangkok, Thailand, August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Sharm el Sheikh
Police patrol the beach

If a terrorist incident strikes your holiday resort or destination, what does your travel insurance cover?

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Does my insurance cover disruption due to terrorism?

Generally not.

Terrorism, war, insurrection and civil war are listed among the exclusions to most travel policies. According to research by The Telegraph, just 40pc of major travel insurers will pay out on claims related to terrorism as standard.

Am I covered if I am injured in a terrorist incident?

Yes. Terrorism exclusions do not apply to emergency medical expenses and hospital benefits. Personal accident cover (including death benefits) can also usually be claimed, unless caused by nuclear or chemical weapons.

How should I claim if my holiday is cancelled or disrupted?

Travel insurance policies are generally designed to cover loses and disruption that airlines and tour operators will not.

If your flight or holiday is cancelled, your first action should be to contact your airline or tour operator. Depending on the situation, they are obliged to provide refunds or re-routing, along with certain care and assistance.

Read more: What happens if my flights are cancelled?

Travel Insurance is then useful for claiming on missed connections, lost deposits, car hire and accommodation payments etc.

Depending on your policy, excess and limits will apply – cancellation cover could range from €1,000 to €10,000 depending on the policy detail, for instance.

What happens if the DFA says travel is unsafe?

If the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) deems travel to a destination to be unsafe, your travel insurance will likely become invalid for that destination.

Once travel is deemed unsafe, package holidays will be cancelled, with customers entitled to a full refund or replacement holiday from tour operators.

Tunisia, Egypt (with some exceptions, including Sharm El Sheikh), Syria and the Ukraine/Russian border are examples of several regions to which all or "all but essential travel" is currently deemed unsafe.

See more: dfa.ie/travel

Can I get insured for travel to unsafe places?

Yes. It is possible to negotiate individual policies – insurers will submit specific requests to underwriters for these, and premiums will reflect the risk.

I’m nervous about travel. Can I get a refund?

No. If you cancel your holiday without the DFA declaring travel to be unsafe, it could be deemed "disinclination to travel". As such, you may have to give up your deposit, pay a cancellation fee or forfeit some or all of the cost.

Some tour operators may decide to offer alternative destinations as a gesture of goodwill, but there is no legal obligation for them to do so – and travel insurance provides are not obliged to offer refunds in cases like this.

What specific cover should I look out for?

Travel insurance policies can run to 20 or 30 pages of small print, and while many terms and conditions are generic, they can differ across policy types and providers.

Before signing up, think about the kind of trips you take, the terms that will specifically apply to you, and whether to take out a single or multi-trip policy.

Many providers offer a travel disruption cover as an optional extra, for example - typically priced from around €17pp for an annual, multi-trip policy.

This covers cancellations and delays bad weather – fog or volcanic activity, for example – although it comes with a seven-day moratorium, so you need to take it out ahead of travel, and not when natural disasters strike.

What happens if my bags are lost?

When baggage is lost, the issue should first be reported at the airport to your airline and their ground-handling partner. Travel insurance covers lost baggage, but the level of cover can vary widely - so check the small print.

Is it really worth taking out travel insurance?

Up to 25pc of people still travel without insurance, according to Ciaran Mulligan of Blue Insurance and Multitrip.com. This, despite the fact that basic annual multi-trip policies are now available from €15.95.

“For the price of two glasses of wine, it’s not a risk worth taking,” he says – particularly when US medical bills, for instance, can run to hundreds of thousands of euro.

What other precautions can I take?

Irish citizens travelling to insecure destinations can register on the DFA's citizens’ registration database (dfa/ie/travel) so it can contact them in case of urgency. You can call the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on 01 408-2000.

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