It’s important to understand what is and isn’t covered when it comes to your travel insurance policy. One subject you may be confused about is terrorism – does travel insurance provide cover if your travel destination is affected?
Terrorist attacks have taken place in various popular travel destinations in recent years – including in Paris, Bangkok, Indonesia, Turkey, Barcelona, and London.
It’s important to be aware of these risks, and follow government advice when considering your next travel destination.
Travel insurance can provide cover for a range of unexpected emergencies, including becoming injured or sick overseas or having to suddenly return home due to the death or sickness of a close relative. The Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for your travel insurance policy will provide in-depth information about what situations are covered, and any exceptions that may apply.
But these can be complex – to help make it simple, we’ve pulled out some of the key information you need to know to better understand how terrorism, and travel warnings about terrorism, affect your travel insurance coverage.
- Your travel insurance policy may still cover medical and evacuation expenses resulting from terrorism.
- Travel insurance may not cover travel to various destinations which the Australian Government identifies as posing a high risk to travellers.
- Terrorism may be a General Exclusion which means there is no cover whatsoever for any claims which arise from an act or threat of terrorism.
What is considered terrorism by travel insurance?
In relation to terrorism, travel insurance often refers to:
- An act or threat of terrorism.
- A terrorist act or use of military force or other intervention by a government or official authority to intercept, prevent, or mitigate a terrorist act.
- An event which is verified or recognised by the government as an act of terrorism, or defined as such by any relevant legislation.
Travel insurers may have a different definition of terrorism. Check the 'Words with Special Meanings' section of the PDS before purchasing a policy.
Is terrorism covered by travel insurance?
Not all travel insurance policies provide cover for terrorism-related incidents.
You may find that travel insurance has either:
- A blanket ‘General Exclusion’ in relation to any threat or act of terrorism.
- Limited cover with restrictions on benefits such as cancellation fees, lost deposits, and travel delays.
If terrorism is excluded entirely, this means you will not have cover for any expenses related to a threat of terrorist attack or incident.
If you have limited cover, you may still have cover for overseas medical expenses and emergency evacuation if you are injured in a terrorist incident.
Are medical expenses from terrorism covered by travel insurance?
A number of insurers do provide cover for overseas medical and hospital expenses caused by an act of terrorism, including the cost of emergency medical evacuation.
Cover for unexpected medical emergencies is vital. It ensures you are not left with a huge amount of debt after receiving overseas medical care.
Regardless of whether your travel insurance policy provides cover for terrorism, it’s important to consider a policy with adequate medical coverage in case you become sick or injured for any reason.
Are cancellations and travel delays caused by terrorism covered?
Most travel insurance policies exclude cover for cancellation fees and lost deposits, travel delays, or special event transport expenses if the cause for this is terrorism.
What are travel warnings?
The Australian government issues travel warnings as advisories from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The purpose of this travel advice is to provide Australian travellers, and Australians living overseas, with information about the potential threat and risks they might come across.
The types of information included in these travel warnings cover include threats to security, safety, health or natural disasters.
Before you travel, you should check the travel advice on the Australian government’s website smartraveller.gov.au. This way, you will be aware of the risks you may be taking and can make informed decisions about where and when you travel.
How do travel warnings affect travel insurance?
The information on Smart Traveller has a major impact on your travel insurance policy coverage.
Insurers will generally not provide cover if you visit destinations that have a travel warning in place of ‘Do Not Travel’.
It is important that you read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and ensure your travel insurer provides cover for the destination you are travelling to. Not all destinations will be covered.
For more information about the different travel warning levels, read our article Smartraveller Travel Advisories and Advice Explained.
Level 1 - Exercise normal safety precautions
This advisory indicates that the destination is similar with regards to risk as any other regular city in Australia. Normal safety precautions should be observed.
Level 2 - Exercise a high degree of caution
This advisory does not suggest you reconsider your travel plans. However, there may be a reason to be more vigilant than you would at other travel destinations. This means ensuring you are alert and take care for your personal safety.
Level 3 - Reconsider your need to travel
This advisory means the Australian Government considers the destination to be unsafe for the majority of travellers, and recommends cancelling or deferring your trip if possible. If you are already at the destination, you should try to leave as soon as possible. There are dangerous and potentially life-threatening risks in these regions which could include:
- An ongoing threat of terrorism, current civil unrest, kidnapping or a high occurrence of violent crime,
- A serious health and safety concern, including the COVID-19 pandemic,
- A significant but temporary event such as a natural disaster, including an earthquake or tsunami.
If you still choose to travel to these destinations, you need to make sure that you take reasonable measures to stay safe and reduce your risks.
Your travel insurer may may provide limited cover for instances unrelated to the reasons the destination is considered a high risk. However, some travel insurers will not provide any cover at all for destinations with a ‘Reconsider Your Need To Travel’ advisory.
Level 4 - Do not travel
This advisory means you should not travel to this destination.
The destinations are likely to be highly dangerous, possibly due to a high threat of terrorism, ongoing armed conflict, violent political unrest, or critical levels of violent crime. You travel to this destination at your own risk, and should not expect consular assistance or travel insurance to cover you if you run into an emergency.
Know what you are and aren’t covered for before you travel
Travel insurance can provide cover for a range of emergencies. Unfortunately, terrorism may not be covered by various travel insurers.
It’s important to know what risks you face while travelling, and how this will affect your travel insurance coverage.
Check smartraveller.gov.au to ensure your travel insurance will provide cover at your chosen destination and always read your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).