Does travel insurance cover terrorism?
Local 10's Christina Vazquez breaks down what you need to know
PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – With recent terrorist attacks in major cities across the globe, Local 10 News' Christina Vazquez inquired about travel insurance terrorism coverage.
Like any other consumer purchase, the key is reading the fine print and asking a lot of questions.
"With there being a lot of turmoil in the world today it is important to consider travel insurance," said Chris Hackett, director of personal lines policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. "Make sure you ask questions about terrorism coverage to know what scenarios will be covered and what scenarios are not going to be covered."
Carolyn and Sorin Popescu thought they were covered when they purchased travel insurance for an upcoming trip to Romania via the booking site CheapOAir.
The August trip was a family vacation, so the couple's 6-year-old daughter can get to meet her father's family.
The itinerary included a stop in Turkey. They booked the tickets in January, but since that time terrorists with bombs and guns targeted Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in late June killing dozens and hurting more than 100 others.
"Not only was this an act of terrorism in the country we were flying into, it was the airport we are flying into," Carolyn Popescu said. "We wouldn't put ourselves in that situation, much less a 6 year old."
Then most recently was the attempted coup. The U.S. State Department continues to warn of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey, urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the country.
Worried, the Popescu's wanted to avoid Turkey's airport.
"We still want to take this trip," Carolyn Popescu said.
"We just want to make sure we get there safely," her husband Sorin added.
What they learned next about their travel insurance came as a surprise. Coups are not covered and when it came to that June airport massacre, "if there was a terrorist act within 30 days of our trip the travel insurance would cover that," Carolyn Popescu said. "But unfortunately the act of terrorism happened 32 days before our trip."
That meant it was outside the coverage time frame.
In a statement, TripMate told the Call Christina Team: "The travel protection plan purchased in connection with CheapOAir customer Carolyn Popescu's upcoming 8/2/16 trip stipulates that there be a terrorist incident in a city on their itinerary within 30 days of departure for coverage under trip cancelation or trip interruption. Because there has not been a terrorist incident within 30 days of their 8/2/16 departure, there is no benefit available under the plan for this situation."
"Policies are made by people and policies can be changed by people in extraordinary circumstances," Carolyn Popescu said.
REACHING A RESOLUTION:
Vazquez also contacted CheapOAir.
Representatives of CheapOAir worked diligently to accommodate a resolution for the South Florida family.
In a statement CheapOAir stated, "Due to the nature of the request it needs to be processed by Turkish Airlines headquarters rather than the U.S.-based sales office. We are opening a claim on their behalf and will continue to monitor the status of the case. In order to offer the Popescu's some peace of mind, CheapOair will guarantee a refund for the amount of the airfare ($2,556.48) regardless of the final decision from Turkish Airlines."
The couple used that money to purchase new flights, avoiding Turkey's airport. They will be in Romania this week.
TRAVEL INSURANCE AND TERRORISM: ARE YOU COVERED?
"It is an unfortunate situation that she was a couple of days outside the coverage period," Hackett said.
Hackett added that insurance companies outline precise coverage terms to avoid ambiguity should a claim situation arise.
We found many plans include a specific time frame and definition of a "terrorism incident."
Questions to ask if you are looking for terrorism coverage from your travel insurance plan include:
- Does your plan cover trip cancelation because of a terrorist incident?
- How does your plan define a terrorist incident?
- What is the timeframe for terrorist incident coverage?
- What does your plan cover in the event of civil unrest, riots or other violence?
- Does your plan cover you if you are hurt in a terrorist incident?
Jeff Blyskal of Consumer Reports also recommends you review the following:
* When the policy needs to be purchased. If you are purchasing tickets for a flight one month from now, buy your travel insurance at the same time. If you go ahead and buy the ticket but wait to purchase the insurance until closer to your departure date your ticket will not be covered in the event of a terrorist attack.
* Your itinerary. Terrorism coverage allows cancelation if an attack takes place in any of the cities on your itinerary, which includes stopovers. But it may not cover you if you, for example, are going to Paris and a terrorist attack takes place in a different French city.
* Emergency-medical-care coverage. Read the fine print and ask the sales agent if the policy will cover payment for your care up front, which some overseas hospitals require. A good number of travel insurance policies will pay the medical facility directly.
* The "cancel-for-any-reason" option. While this clause can increase your travel insurance premium by as much as 50 percent, it also gives you the greatest benefit. You can cancel your plans and get a full refund whether you're worried about terrorism or simply have a change of heart about taking the trip.
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