The chances of being caught up in a terrorist attack are small, however, tragic events in countries such as France, Tunisia and Egypt have made some people concerned about foreign travel.
Many holidaymakers will take out travel insurance but won’t check the small print to see if their policy covers terrorism or their plans being disrupted by it.
Most travel insurers exclude terrorism from certain claims, although Aviva does offer a greater level of cover.
For those travelling to high-risk or unstable countries for business, charity work or adventure tourism there are specialist policies with terrorism cover included and benefits that are not available from mainstream travel insurance.
Aviva is an exception in that it does include a higher level of terrorism cover than most competitors.
High Risk Voyager may be appropriate for some tourists.
Check the ‘exclusions’ small print
Most policies list terrorism in the exclusions section of the small print, which means claims related to terrorist incidents will be rejected. However, they also say they will cover medical emergency and personal injury expenses caused by terrorist attacks.
Thankfully that means that if you were hurt you would be able to receive treatment. But other costs for things like a flight home with a stretcher and doctor escort, which can cost thousands, would not be covered.
You can check the exclusions section of a policy to see if terrorism is listed. Here is some typical small print from an M&S policy: “What is not covered: War risks, civil commotion, terrorism (except under Section B – Emergency medical and other expenses, Section C – Hospital benefit and Section D – Personal accident unless caused by nuclear, chemical or biological attack), sonic bangs, radioactive contamination.”
Aviva offers more cover than most
Aviva is one of the few big insurers that does not exclude terrorism. In 2012 an Aviva spokeswoman told The Guardian: “If terrorism is the cause of any claim covered by your policy, you are insured for it. In other words, if an act of terrorism caused you to be injured on holiday, medical assistance, treatment and repatriation would be covered under your policy’s standard terms and conditions.”
While other providers will pay for emergency medical treatment Aviva goes further by paying for repatriation and also holiday cancellation and curtailment if the policy holder is injured in an attack.
The company does say that before claiming for cancellation a policy holder should contact their holiday operator or airline first to see if they can make arrangements or cover any additional costs involved.
Read our review of Aviva's travel cover here.
Aviva is one of our top 10 travel insurance providers, click the link to see the full list.
Don’t ignore Foreign Office advice
Many insurers will cover cancellation if Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice about your destination changes after you have bought your ticket and insurance policy. Again, they ask you to get in touch with your airline or travel operator first to see if they can help.
Most policies state that you will not be covered if the FCO advises against all or all but essential travel to a country at the time you buy your ticket. You can check the latest FCO advice here.
If your reason for travel is essential it’s worth looking at LV=. It says it can provide cover to a region the FCO advises against visiting if it can be proven the trip is essential. There is no set definition of ‘essential’ so it’s best to contact LV= or your insurer to ensure you’re covered.
Even if you’re not caught up in a terrorist attack you can face disruption caused by one. When a Russian airline exploded after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board, flights from the airport were suspended. It meant hundreds of Brits were stranded there and other holidaymakers in the UK had their holidays cancelled. Flights from the UK remain on hold while work is being carried out to improve security at the airport.
In these situations, it might not be clear who to contact for advice or to get a refund. Your options will depend on the type of incident that has occurred and the specifics of your travel insurance.
LV= was one of the top providers in our list of the best travel insurance providers.
Travel insurance is not just for tourists. Thousands of journalists, charity workers, engineers and government employees travel to dangerous countries that have a higher risk of terrorism and they need insurance that goes beyond a standard travel policy.
Battleface online quote
The choices are more limited but there are places you can go to get off-the-shelf cover for travel to conflict zones, challenging areas or remote locations.
Battleface has an online quote form (Battleface's site seems to be down for maintenance at the moment but should live again in the next couple of weeks) for Individual Travel Medical Expenses Insurance, which it says is not a comprehensive travel insurance policy. But it does offer war and terrorism cover, medical evacuation, cover for hospitalisation and emergency reunion.
Those are the headline features, it also says it can organise political evacuation, it will negotiate with kidnappers and in the event of blackmail and extortion it says: “If someone’s putting the squeeze on you, Battleface can help squeeze back.”
Importantly, it covers travel to areas where the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against visiting, which standard tourist travel insurance will not do. Although Battleface does not cover trips to the USA.
Despite the machismo, it does appear to provide accessible specialist cover and the testimonials on its site suggest it can deal with a range of issues. Here's one from a UK citizen: “Whilst travelling to Libya I needed to see an English-speaking doctor for my shoulder pain. I contacted Battleface and spoke with Seham, who right away arranged for the doctor to see me and arranged for appointments.”
Prices will vary depending on factors such as your age and where you are travelling. But an online quote for a 29-year-old travelling to Iraq for two weeks with £175,600 of medical cover and a £176 excess was £73.05.
You can fill in a full quote and buy a policy from Battleface here.
Battleface also publishes a well-written blog that features interviews and timely travel advice, such as its piece on the Zika virus outbreak. It is partnered with the Organisation for Better Security, which has a page with up-to-date travel alerts and a map that shows risk levels around the world.
Voyager Insurance Services has designed a policy called High Risk Voyager that offers business and leisure travel cover for war, crisis and disaster relief zones.
High Risk Voyager is more of a hybrid between a specialist and standard travel insurance policy than Battleface's offer. Voyager covers terrorism but also winter sports and emergency air ambulance and medical evacuation services.
You can find out more and get a quote from Voyager's website.
Battleface is the only specialist provider we could find that has an online quote form, but there are rivals that you can contact for a quote. International SOS, Warzone Cover and Bellwood Prestbury all provide cover for travel to high-risk countries.
Using a broker
Battleface’s policies are underwritten by Lloyd’s. Another option for people going to a place at risk of terrorism is to go through a broker. Chesterfield specialises in insurance for people operating in high-risk areas and also works with Lloyd’s.
Chesterfield has experience working with journalists, NGOs, the oil and gas industry, and in maritime security. It has a range of products including cargo insurance and cover for kidnap and ransom but you’ll need to get in touch with it to find out how much your policy will cost.
Whether you’re travelling for work or leisure there are insurance policies that cover terrorism but if it’s something you’re particularly concerned about it’s important to check the small print and speak to your insurer so that you know exactly what is covered.