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How to Travel Safely in Uncertain Times
This blog post was updated December 13, 2019.
It’s common for many people to be concerned about safe travel, especially when venturing abroad. And when terrorist attacks dominate the news, it only increases existing anxiety.
Fear of the unknown is always difficult. Even though you can’t predict when or if a terrorist event will occur, you can still take steps to prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario.
People aren’t letting their fears keep them from traveling. An estimated 42 percent of Americans have passports and in 2018, 41.8 Americans ventured overseas
What should a worried traveler do?
When you’re traveling, there’s no way to know if a terrorist event will happen, but you can take a few steps to prepare for one.
1. When you plan your trip, pay attention to news about your destination.
What’s happened in the past few months? Is there an upcoming event that could make travel to that area potentially dangerous? One way to stay on top of this is to enroll in the United States Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
. Setting up an account is easy and free. After you register your trip on the site, you’ll receive travel alerts and warnings from the Department of State.
It also provides three other key benefits:
o You receive important safety notices from the embassy in your destination country.
o It helps the U.S. Embassy contact you for many types of emergencies (natural disaster, civil unrest, family emergency).
o Family and friends can use STEP to contact you in an emergency.
You’ll need your passport handy to answer questions about your passport number, date of issue, and expiration. Also, you’ll have the option to provide emergency contacts. This should always be a trusted person who is not traveling with you.
2. Plan your itinerary ahead of time, share it with friends and family who aren’t traveling with you, and arrange designated times to check in with them.
If you’re traveling with others who are venturing out on their own, establish designated check-in times with them as well.
3. Try one of the many travel apps that are available.
has a wonderful one that allows you to see exactly where each member of your travel group is on a map, along with their current address. You can also message through it and send a help alert to your circle of connected members.
4. Before leaving on your vacation, familiarize yourself with your destination, the location of nearby hospitals, and how to contact emergency personnel.
For example, in Europe, you dial 112 for a general emergency.
Before doing so, read your plan documents carefully so you understand exactly what is covered.
Most travelers want to know if you can cancel your trip and get your money back
if you’re scheduled to visit a location when a terrorist incident occurs. Or, maybe you’ve simply become more fearful about traveling because of recent events and want to cancel or interrupt your trip.
Most trip insurance plans
have some type of coverage for a terrorist incident, provided the act of terrorism occurs in your destination city within a certain number of days of your scheduled arrival. This time limit usually ranges from 7 to 30 days and varies by plan.
PRO TIP #1:
Normally, in order for a terrorist event to be covered, the U.S. Government must declare the incident is an act of terrorism.
PRO TIP #2:
Once the event meets the definition of a terrorist incident, you will not have coverage for cancellation if you buy the plan after the date the event is declared a terrorist incident.
Why? Because at that point, it is a known peril. You can’t buy car insurance once your car has been wrecked; you must have the coverage in place before that happens.
PRO TIP #3:
What if you want to cancel your trip for any type of scary event and get your nonrefundable trip cost back? You need to buy a trip insurance plan with an optional Cancel for any Reason (CFAR) benefit. With this, you can cancel your trip for literally any reason.
Here are a few important points about CFAR you need to know:
- You must buy the CFAR benefit within a specified timeframe of paying your trip deposit/payments (RoundTrip Elite allows up to 20 days.)
- You must buy coverage for 100 percent of your nonrefundable prepaid trip costs.
- You must also buy coverage for 100 percent of your nonrefundable prepaid trip expenses for subsequent travel arrangements you later add to your trip (RoundTrip Elite gives you up to 15 days to add this cost to your plan).
- You must cancel the trip within the required time limit (RoundTrip Elite requires you to cancel two days or more before the scheduled departure date.)
- You will not be reimbursed for 100 percent of your nonrefundable trip deposits and will instead receive a stated percentage, typically ranging from 50 – 80 percent (75 percent for RoundTrip Elite.)
Coverage if You are Hurt in a Terrorist Event
Trip insurance plans typically cover medical expenses due to an accidental injury occurring during your trip, so if you were hurt in a terrorist attack, it would be covered.
A Helpful Friend
Seven Corners Assist is our 24/7 travel assistance team. Their services are included when you buy a travel insurance plan. If you run into a travel emergency, and you’re not certain what to do, give them a call, chat with them via the Seven Corners website, or send an email. They’re here to help.
We hope you find these tools helpful in planning your next trip. As always, we wish you safe and enjoyable travel wherever you are going!
About the Author
Angela Borden has been a member of the Seven Corners team since 2007. She originally joined as an underwriter, later transitioning to marketing to explore her passion for making all things insurance less confusing and more fun. (Is that possible?) When she's not working, Angela loves traveling and spending time with her family, including her two adorable dogs.