Guide to travel insurance and the threat of terrorism

It seems today that no matter where you decide to go on holiday there is a risk, albeit a very small one, that you could be affected by a terrorist attack. 

This short guide is designed to help you know what to do, who to contact and what travel insurance cover you have, if a terrorist attack affects your holiday, either before you travel or whilst you are away.

If a terrorist attack occurs before you travel

Check the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).  They will have up to date information about the situation in the country affected and may or may not be advising against all travel, or all but essential travel (holidays are not considered to be essential travel) to the country or specific areas.

If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are advising against travel you should get in touch with your tour operator or travel provider. You have a contract with them to get you to a certain destination at a certain time, and if they are unable to fulfil this contract they have a duty to offer you a full refund or alternative travel arrangements.

If your travel arrangements have changed due to a terrorist incident, you will be able to move or amend your travel insurance policy (single trip only) to cover the new trip.  If you are no longer travelling you will be able to cancel your travel insurance policy (single trip only) and obtain a refund.

Your travel insurance does not provide cover for cancellation due to Foreign Office travel alerts.

Please note, if you go ahead and travel against the advice of the FCO your travel insurance policy would be invalid and there would be no cover provided under any of the sections.

If after a terrorist attack the FCO deems that it is still safe for British citizens to travel i.e. does not issue an alert advising against travel, but you decide that you no longer want to go to that destination you should contact your tour operator or travel provider, they may be able to offer you an alternative holiday, but they are under no obligation to do so.

There is no cover under the cancellation section of your travel insurance if you simply decide that you no longer wish to travel.

If you are affected by a terrorist attack whilst you are away

Follow the advice of the local police and other authorities.

Check the FCO website for information specifically for UK citizens.  The FCO may be advising that you leave the area as soon as possible, in which case you should contact your travel provider immediately to find out when and how you can get home.  In some extreme circumstances the FCO may also charter flights to get British citizens out of an area which they deem to be dangerous, although this is very unusual. 

In any event, you should keep in touch with your tour operator or travel provider for the latest information about returning to the UK.

In the event that you are caught up in a terrorist attack overseas your travel insurance will provide cover, up to £10 million, under the medical and repatriation expenses section of the policy.

If you are injured in an attack and require medical treatment you should contact the 24 hour medical emergency assistance team as soon as you possible in order for them to authorise the payment of hospital bills, help you get the treatment you need and organise repatriation back to the UK where necessary. 

If you are unable to travel home on your planned return date, due to the consequences of a terrorist attack which are beyond your control, your travel insurance is likely to be extended until you can return home, provided you do so at the earliest opportunity.  Please check.