Consumer interest in trip-cancellation coverage spikes after terrorism attacks.
If the recent attacks in Nice, Brussels and Paris have you thinking about travel insurance, you’re not alone.
Industry experts say that consumer interest in terrorism and trip cancellation coverage has spiked after each attack.
“Since Brussels, really, we’ve seen that number growing and growing,” said Rachael Taft, a spokeswoman for Squaremouth.com, a travel insurance comparison site. “So it’s definitely top of mind.”
After the attacks in Paris and Brussels, Squaremouth.com saw more travelers purchasing trip cancellation policies and searching specifically for terrorism coverage, especially for popular European destinations. The company said that the number of customers searching for terrorism coverage increased by an average of 167 percent in the month after each of the attacks. Also in the month after each attack, Squaremouth.com’s trip cancellation sales were 19 percent higher than in the same period the previous year.
Most Read Life Stories
- Sunday Best: Emily Blunt, Iman are among the fashion winners from 2021 Met Gala
- Rant & Rave: Reader gives a lesson on the etiquette of waiting in line at Dick’s
- For a Jewish-style deli with 'big, ridiculous sandwiches' and great Ethiopian and Colombian eats, explore this Seattle neighborhood
- What gravel riding is and why you might want to try this new cycling activity
- 11 things to do in the Seattle area this weekend
Other companies said that they were experiencing a similar trend.
“Unfortunately as a result of activity like this, we do see a slight uptick in people that are interested in travel insurance; it makes them think of risk,” said John Cook, founder of QuoteWright.com, a travel insurance comparison and shopping site. “We just hate to see events like this happen.”
Rates stay the same
Despite increased interest, travelers won’t be facing rate hikes.
“Rates don’t fluctuate due to events,” Taft said. “Travel insurance rates are heavily regulated.”
So are the policies. Cook said that insurance policies will not suddenly change because of attacks. “You’re not going to see changes in policy language next week, or next month, or three months from now,” he said.
Today, many travel insurance policies include coverage for terrorism. Ever since the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11, that has been fairly standard, Taft said. Companies such as Squaremouth.com even have tabs on their websites so that travelers can search for policies with coverage for terrorism. At QuoteWright.com, consumers can compare such rates, or call to speak with an insurance agent about which policy may best suit them.
Keep in mind that policies that include terrorism coverage have fine print that experts advise travelers to read carefully.
“Most travel insurance policies cover terrorism in very narrowly defined ways,” Cook said. This is particularly so when it comes to canceling or interrupting a trip already in progress. For example, he said, a policy may say that a terrorist event must have occurred within 30 days before your scheduled departure date. And a policy may exclude coverage for a terrorist attack if one has already occurred in the same place within a certain time period.
Christina Tunnah, regional manager for the Americas for World Nomads, a travel insurance company, said the two major factors that determine whether you have a claim are when you bought the insurance, and how exactly your travels were affected during a terrorist event. For instance, a road closure in the aftermath of an attack that causes you to miss your flight would likely be covered. (When attacks happen, travel insurance companies often post alerts on their websites to help answer consumer questions.)
That said, policy rules are not necessarily hard and fast. “Always, always call,” Tunnah advises travelers who have purchased insurance and are uncertain whether their trip is covered. In some cases the policy you have may say you’re not covered if you cancel a trip to a place that has just suffered an attack — but the insurer may be flexible. “Traditionally insurance doesn’t cover fear,” Tunnah said, “Yet there are some practicalities that might cause a travel insurance company to make an exception. It’s always very case by case.”
She and others in the travel insurance industry point out that travelers are still more likely to die from a disease or, say, from being hit by lightning, than from a terrorist attack.
“My advice that I’ve told clients is travel on,” Cook said. “If you don’t travel, then you’re actually accomplishing what the terrorists want to do.”