Does Travel Insurance Cover War, Civil Unrest or Terrorism? The short answer is that travel insurance generally covers terrorism or a hijacking, but typically does not cover war or civil unrest. Let's distinguish among these, then provide examples from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance, as well as TravelGuard Travel Insurance, which is the third party insurance most of my clients choose, if they don't have coverage or only have insufficient coverage through the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred.
War vs. Civil Unrest vs. Terrorism
War, whether declared or not, involves military action. Civil unrest or civil disorder refers to people revolting or resisting a government or civil authority, such as what's currently going on in Hong Kong.
Terrorism, by contrast, for the purposes of most U.S. travel insurance policies (although as always, be sure to read the definition in your policy) refers to violence that is perpetrated by a person acting on behalf of, or in connection with, any organization that is classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Coverage for Terrorism, But Not War
The Chase Sapphire Reserve provides trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per person (up to $20,000 per covered trip, when more than one person suffers a covered loss), and this includes covered losses caused by a terrorist action or hijacking.
What is NOT covered, however, are losses caused by a “declared or undeclared War.” There is no mention of civil unrest situations, although since these aren't explicitly covered, assume they are not covered.
Travel Guard: CA Preferred Policy Example: Coverage for Terrorism, But Security Upgrade Must Be Paid to Cover Civil Disorder/Riot
Travel Guard travel insurance policies vary by state, so I'll take as an example the California Preferred Policy plan. It will cover trip cancellation if a terrorist incident occurs in a city listed on the policy holder's itinerary, if the terrorist incident takes place within 30 days of the scheduled arrival.
The regular policy does not include coverage for riots and civil unrest, but it's possible to purchase an upgraded “Security Bundle” that covers trip cancellation in the event of a riot or civil disorder.
As with most travel insurance policies, there is a general exclusion of war, whether declared or not, and there is also no coverage if the insured person himself/herself takes part in a riot or civil disorder.
Putting it in Perspective
I certainly recommend ensuring you're covered by travel insurance you're comfortable with, whether by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve or another credit card that includes travel insurance, or by purchasing travel insurance. Just keep in mind that war, riots and civil unrest is typically not covered; at most, there may be an option to pay an additional amount to cover civil unrest, although not war.
If your concern is a trip cancellation or trip interruption due to terrorism or a hijacking, that's usually covered. That said, terrorism is covered in part because it's such a rare occurrence, particularly outside the U.S. For example, look at deaths of U.S. citizens attributed to a terrorist incident, both inside and outside the U.S., from 2007-2016; across those those 10 years, of the 255 deaths, 172 of them, or 67%, were inside the U.S. 83 of them, or 33%, were outside the U.S. So if you're worried about leaving the U.S., try not to be–chances are, as long as you're avoiding the most war-torn or unstable regions, you'll be safer abroad.
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