It was inevitable that Paris, the world’s top tourism destination (32.3 million in 2013), would sooner or later be hit by terrorist attack. On January 7, 2015, it was. Does this mean we strike the City of Lights off our travel bucket list? No way—but we must adjust to the reality that no matter where we go, we need an added layer of protection.
So far as we know, none of the victims in Paris were tourists. But the repercussions of these attacks, caught on camera, could affect travellers heading not only to France, but to any other tourist location: Rome, London, Singapore, or Sydney. We are all vulnerable, and though we may think it crude or insensitive to talk about something as mundane as travel insurance at a time like this, that is precisely what we must do.
A terrorist attack affects not only those in the direct line of fire, but families and loved ones who need to bring wounded victims home, or arrange for return of their remains, or who need to pay emergency hospital bills, or change travel itineraries, or find or replace luggage or personal valuables.
Related: Travel Insurance for Dangerous Times
The risk of terrorism, however we describe it, is with us wherever we go. And we will never be 100 per cent free of it. But we can minimize our exposure to it by understanding how travel insurers define it and deal with it. Over the past decade, virtually all travel insurers have strengthened their coverage of terrorism, and you need to pay attention as well. This is no longer a marginal issue. It’s one of the key items in any policy you buy and you should discuss it with the agent selling it to you. Insist on it.
First, you need to see how “terrorism” is defined by your policy. Here is a sample from one major Canadian insurer:
“Act of terrorism means an act, including but not limited to the use of force or violence and/or the threat thereof or commission or threat of a dangerous act, of any person or group(s) or government(s), committed for political, religious, ideological, social, economic or similar purposes including the intention to intimidate, coerce or overthrow a government (whether de facto or de jure) or to influence, affect or protest against any government and/or to put the civilian population, or any section of the civilian population, in fear.” (See full policy wording)
Then see how that definition is applied. For instance, one policy contains this exclusion:
“Any loss resulting from: … an act of war or an act of terrorism, when, before your effective date, a written formal warning was issued by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, advising Canadians not to travel to that country, region or city.” (See full policy wording)
In other words, your coverage could be invalidated if a travel warning is issued for your destination before you go.
I agree with you that reading some if this legalese is tedious. But this is one time you have to do it. And if you need help—call your insurance agent and have them go through the policy with you. Or contact our insurance specialists for more information before you buy.