The Canadian, US, and British governments have issued terrorism alerts for travel to Europe effective immediately. As of now, this should not affect the trip cancellation benefits of your travel insurance policies, but you need to stay tuned to any further Department of Foreign Affairs advisories should the alerts be upgraded to warnings.
The alerts raised by the three governments urge travellers from North America and Britain to be especially vigilant for what appear to be planned attacks by al Qaeda-affiliated groups on public transportation systems and other tourism infrastructure sites throughout Europe.
According to the alerts, travellers should be aware of their surroundings, monitor local news reports, and follow the advice of local authorities. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs is also advising Canadians travelling in Europe to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service in order to receive the latest advice.
You could also try visiting the Canadian government travel warning site, but I have so far found it uninformative and lagging behind the curve on this current issue. Stay tuned to news reports. The advisories to date are coming out of news releases issued by the governments and have yet to be built into their normal website warning systems.
This is what it all means to you:
If you have already booked and paid for your trip and have taken out trip cancellation/interruption insurance (and if you haven’t, you need to do so right away), you will be covered for any prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses you have put out to date—according to the terms of your policy. And if you don’t know what those terms are, read my previous post on this issue: Trip Cancellation Insurance Doesn’t Cover Everything.
Once the level rises to an official warning, your benefits will still be in effect if you have already booked and paid for your trip. But if you haven’t, your benefits may be compromised. Once the official government warnings go up, the rules change. So if your plans for travel to Europe are not yet firmed up, you need to talk to your travel insurance agent so that you clearly understand what is covered and what is excluded.
At this point there does not appear to be enough specific information for you to cancel or change any trips you had planned. But if you are thinking of any travel to Europe over the next weeks or months, you need to consult with a travel insurance specialist so that you have appropriate trip cancellation benefits in place before you put down any deposits or payments related to your travel. Just try to remember the disruption caused by Iceland’s volcano this past spring. Or recall the massacre at Mumbai last year.