Unrest in the Middle East: Travel Insurance 101

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Unsurprisingly, our Customer Care representatives have been fielding quite a few calls over the past few days about the escalating civil unrest in Egypt.  While we covered the basics of the State Department’s travel warning and some other related topics in yesterday’s post, we felt it was important to cover in more depth a few of the most common questions and concerns our customers are voicing at this time.

I’m planning to travel to Egypt within the next few days, but I didn’t purchase travel insurance.  Can I buy a policy now?

Probably not.  There’s a reasonable likelihood that you’d run into difficulty with your plans due to the ongoing instability there; that makes this sort of akin to trying to get flood insurance for your house when the water is already trickling into the basement.  Situations like this one are among the many reasons we always urge travelers to purchase their insurance when they are making their initial trip arrangements.

I’m supposed to be traveling to Egypt quite soon, and I do have a travel insurance policy.  Why did your Customer Care Center tell me that I can’t get reimbursed for canceling my trip?

Civil and political unrest are not included in the standard coverage under most travel insurance policies.  While there are several policies that do cover expenses incurred if you’re delayed as a result of civil unrest, most do not allow you to cancel your trip because of current instability in the region.  Any exceptions to this rule generally come into play only if there is a terrorist act in your destination city or a city on your itinerary.  However, if you happen to have purchased a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policy, then you should be able to cancel your trip and receive reimbursement.

I’m not actually planning to travel to Egypt, but I’m thinking about booking a trip either to another country in the Middle East or with flights that may connect through Middle Eastern cities.  What kind of travel insurance should I consider?

This is the question we hope all potential travelers are asking themselves right now.  Most of the major news outlets have been reporting for several days now that it appears that political uprisings, such as the one in Egypt, have been planned in many other countries — Syria, Jordan, and Yemen among them.  It would be wise for travelers whose plans may take them to, or through, any part of the Middle East to be proactive in the face of these reports and make sure that they purchase appropriate coverage for any upcoming trips.   We highly recommend calling our Customer Care center at 800-487-4722 to discuss the best coverage options for your specific itinerary as soon as possible.

I heard that it would probably be impossible from now on to get any kind of travel insurance for trips to Egypt.  Is that true?

Happily not!  Travel insurance is intended to provide protection for all different kinds of scenarios; civil unrest is only one small piece of the whole travel insurance puzzle.  In fact, the major take-away lesson from these events is that in general, civil or political unrest is the kind of “wild card” occurrence that most likely wouldn’t be covered anyway, unless you have a Cancel for Any Reason policy.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get travel insurance for a future trip to the pyramids, though — far from it.  The more likely causes of travel woes — illness, injury, delays, and other relatively routine but still unforeseen events — can still befall you in Egypt, or anywhere in the world.  Travel insurance is still available to cover you for those concerns, and will continue to be available, despite the current political situation.  Although it’s hard to think about the more mundane things that can happen when something major grabs the headlines, it’s just as important now as it ever has been to think about the big picture and protect yourself against every eventuality, even the things that seem small when compared to the cataclysmic events of the past few days.

As always, we urge all travelers to carefully review their needs and call us to discuss the best options for insuring any upcoming trips, regardless of where in the world they may be traveling.  While events like the civil unrest in Egypt certainly put travel insurance in the spotlight, our goal today remains unchanged from what it always has been: to provide every possible protection for your trip, so you can continue to explore the world with confidence.

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