Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Category: Diaspora News
Travel insurers take different stances on what policies do and don't cover in the event of a terrorist attack.
Holidaymakers planning trips to Kenya should check that their travel insurance covers claims resulting from terrorism following a Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning of potential terrorist attacks in Nairobi.
The FCO said it believes terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks in the capital. In a post on its website it said: "Attacks could be indiscriminate and target Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreign travellers gather, such as hotels, shopping centres and beaches. We strongly advise British nationals to exercise extra vigilance and caution in public places and at public events."
Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers' Association said insurers removed cover for terrorism from their policies following the attacks in New York in September 2001, but about two-thirds have now reinstated basic medical expenses incurred for injuries sustained as a result of terrorism, while some offer additional cover for baggage and other expenses.
He said: "If you have already bought a policy, check with the insurer to make sure it includes cover for terrorism. Otherwise, ask an insurancebroker to find a policy that provides the cover you require."
An Aviva spokeswoman said all its policies include cover for terrorism: "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.
"Likewise, if you or the person you were going to travel with were injured due to terrorism and you needed to cancel your trip, we would pay for unused travel and accommodation costs you had paid if you weren't able to get a refund, for example from your holiday operator."
However, she added: "Travellers should be aware that standard cover does not include cancellation or abandonment claims due to acts of terrorism unless the insured is directly involved. So if you cancelled a planned trip following an act of terrorism because you were worried about further attacks, this would not be covered."
MoreThan, meanwhile, excludes terrorism from its travel policy cover, but will meet medical and repatriation costs for policyholders who are injured.
Insurers are also taking different stances on how they treat the warning "against all but essential travel" to coastal areas within 150km of the Somali border due to threat of kidnapping, and to areas within 60km inland from that coastal strip and the Garissa District because of continuing instability in these areas.
No insurer will pay out if you decide you do not want to travel to an area or country following such advice, which is known in the trade as "disinclination to travel".
However, tour operators should be willing to rearrange a customer's holiday to a different date or destination if they have been advised by the FCO not to visit a particular area, and it is worth asking if the insurer will transfer or refund any related policy. MoreThan, for example, will refund the policy in these circumstance.
Unusually, Aviva will cover those who chose to go to countries where the FCO has advised against travel, but says customers should be aware of the standard policy exclusions such as war and rebellions, and not put themselves in a dangerous situation by joining in protests or failing to adhere to local curfews.
In addition to buying travel insurance, Bob Atkinson ofTravelSupermarket advises anyone travelling to register their contact details and location with the FCO through its LOCATE service. This enables the FCO to make contact with you in the event of a major catastrophe, and to help friends and family get in touch.
Travellers have responded to the FCO's advice with concern. OnTripadvisor a poster called Princess001 said: "We leave on the 28th but we also have our wedding arranged in Tsavo!!!, we are just going to see how things go in the next 7 to 10 days and then take it from there. We are keeping an eye on the FCO website. hopefully people that are in Kenya can let us know what is happening on the ground."
Another called rutlandrob has decided to cancel his family's trip: "I know we will lose an enormous amount of money and we have talked this through all day, go, not go, go etc.. we have had to make the decision not to take the risk, our kids are due to fly separately after all. There are 2 other families going who have decided to go, so we feel doubly bad at letting the team down."
Doffcocker, a destination expert on the site, said that following Kenyan troops taking control of towns in Somalia used as bases by kidnappers, a terrorist reprisal is more likely.
"There were two grenade attacks on working class Kenyan areas in Nairobi, but the perpetrators were quickly caught. There have been a few attacks in the town of Garissa, towards the Somali border, by al-Shabaab sympathisers, but other than that there has been nothing," he said.
"The current situation is a bit puzzling as nothing seems to have changed. Here, there have been no public announcements of a change in status here by the Kenyan government, but presumably the FCO has sound reasons for the statements it has issued over the weekend. I think the situation now is that the geographic location is irrelevant: if al-Qaeda are assisting al-Shabaab then it is the nature of the target chosen for its impact that is important rather than its location."