The Itinerary

Terrorism and Travel Insurance: 5 Things You Need to Know

Posted Mar 25, 2016 8:30:00 AM in Travel Insurance 101 by Amanda Hand

Terrorism has become a concern for many travelers. Domestic and foreign attacks alike have affected travel plans, shut down airport operations, and ended otherwise positive events in tragedy. Rumors of terrorism in Cuba resulted in several travelers abandoning their well thought out travel plans.  

If terrorism affects either you, your traveling party, or a destination on your itinerary, travel insurance has several benefits that provide coverage. From trip cancellation to 24-hour emergency assistance, you will want to know how these coverages can work for you. 


Your travel insurer must define the incident as terrorism in order for it to be covered by your plan. How the insurer determines coverage for terrorism is outlined in your policy.

Most travel insurance companies use official statements released by the U.S. State Department to determine coverage. For example,  if the U.S. State Department declares a mass shooting in Europe an act of terrorism, travel insurance companies will qualify the event as such. Any insureds affected by this event would be eligible for coverage.  

2. State department warnings are typically not covered for trip cancellation

The U.S. State Department has an extensive system used to warn travelers of potential dangers abroad. These warnings are called Travel Advisories, and here is what you need to know. Travel Advisories come in four different levels, and not every Travel Advisory issued after a terrorist attack will make you eligible for trip cancellation coverage with your travel insurer. 

When you visit the State Department's website to look for Travel Advisories for your intended destination, you will see one of these four labels: 


Unless the U.S. State Department has required the evacuation of U.S. travelers from or prohibited travel to your destination, you are most likely not covered for trip cancellation due to a Travel Advisory. When U.S. Embassy Havana employees experienced targeted attacks in Cuba, a Level 2 Travel Advisory was issued. Travelers were encouraged to exercise increased caution, but there was no official release stating these attacks were acts of terrorism. While several travelers chose to cancel their trips due to the advisory, many were not eligible for travel insurance coverage without the cancel for any reason benefit

The good news is that despite Travel Advisories being issued for your destination, you can still buy travel insurance for your trip. Travel Advisories are not an exclusion in most travel insurance plans. 

3. you can no longer buy coverage for a terrorist event that has already occurred 

After a terrorist incident occurs, you can no longer buy coverage for that event. This would be similar to purchasing car insurance following an accident. Insurance is for the unforeseen. 

Many travel insurance companies will also exclude coverage for destinations that experienced a terrorist attack within 30 days of purchasing the policy.  Be sure to read your plan documents and purchase a plan that does not set limitations around when or where a terrorist incident has occurred. 


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4. if your supplier offers an alternate itinerary, you may not be eligible for trip cancellation  

Be careful when choosing a policy. If your supplier chooses a substitute itinerary, many travel insurance companies will not reimburse cancellation whether the substitute destination is one you want to visit or not. If terrorism is a concern for you, be sure you understand your coverage when purchasing your plan. Again, you may want to consider cancel for any reason if you do not want these kinds of limitations. 

5. How emergency assistance can aid travelers

During the 9/11 attacks, it was almost impossible to get out of New York City. Phone lines were down and cell phones weren't working. Imagine being in a foreign country where you don't speak the language while all of this is happening.

Having emergency assistance with your travel insurance plan can make a huge difference. These companies are specifically trained to help travelers get through catastrophes such as these. Your emergency assistance can help organize an evacuation, book additional accommodations, and flights to help you get back home. 


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