Do Travel Alerts & Warnings Affect Travel Insurance?

  • Angela Borden
May 15, 2017

The Department of State (DOS) issued a Travel Alert for Europe on May 1. Since Europe is a popular travel destination, especially for the summer, you may be wondering how this will affect your clients’ plans for travel to Europe and the coverage for that travel.

Because the DOS issued an alert, there is really no effect on coverage at this time. However, a Travel Warning is a different story. To grasp the effect a Travel Warning can have on coverage, it’s important to understand these key items:   

  1. The difference between a Department of State Travel Alert and a Travel Warning.
    A warning is more serious than an alert. The DOS issues a warning when they want you to consider very carefully whether you should visit a country. Warnings normally remain in place for a longer period than an alert and are tied to ongoing situations such as an unstable government or ongoing violence.

    An alert is issued for short-term occurrences for things the DOS thinks you should know before planning to travel to a country. The alert for Europe will expire September 1, 2017 and is related to the recent actions of the Islamic State of Iraq, ISIS, and al-Qa’ida throughout Europe.

  2. The way a Travel Warning affects coverage provided by a travel medical plan.
    For a travel medical plan, a Travel Alert has no effect on coverage. A Travel Warning affects these benefits:

    Political evacuation — This benefit will not pay if the insured does not heed DOS Travel Warnings to avoid a certain country.

    Terrorism — This benefit will not pay if the U.S. government has issued a Travel Warning for the insured’s destination within the six months prior to the insured’s arrival there.

  3. The way that a Travel Warning affects coverage for a trip protection plan.
    Roundtrip Elite and Economy include a trigger for cancellation and interruption which allows insureds to cancel/interrupt their trip if a terrorist incident occurs at their destination, provided it is within 30 days of departure and if that same city has not experienced a terrorist incident within the 90 days prior to the incident that is causing the insured to cancel their trip. The term terrorist incident is defined in the plan document as an act of violence that is deemed terrorism by the United States Government. Also, the plan states that the terrorist incident must be documented in a Travel Warning issued by the DOS advising Americans to avoid that country.

Ultimately, it is up to individual travelers whether they feel secure enough to travel. Purchasing a travel insurance plan is one important way they can mitigate the risk associated with travel. However, it is important that your clients understand the type of protection they need and the type of protection they are receiving from the plan they purchase.     

If you need to provide your clients with real life examples of how travel insurance helps with different types of travel risks, consider sharing our blog, How to handle Scary Travel Predicaments with them. 

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