Heed Government Warnings When Buying Travel Insurance

There are a lot of dangerous places in the world. Before you travel internationally, do some research on the areas you’ll be visiting and through which you’ll be travelling. Conditions change rapidly. Don’t expect travel insurance to automatically cover you wherever you go, but without it, you are in the greatest peril of all.

There are now dozens of countries, and areas within countries, about which that the governments of Canada, Britain and the United States have issued travel warnings—usually in the form of “Avoid all non-essential travel”, or the highest level, “Avoid all travel.” There are more of these than you think, and many of them are in areas that would surprise you such as North and Central America, Europe, and some of the most developed countries of Asia.

Be aware that most travel insurance policies declare that if you travel to a country, or region, that your government has warned you to avoid prior to your trip or your purchase of insurance, some or all of your coverage benefits, e.g. medical emergencies, lost baggage, trip cancellations or interruptions,  may be severely limited or even nullified. Policies will differ in specifying what they will NOT pay for under such conditions, so if you plan on travelling to any country, or region, where such warnings might be issued, read the fine print of your policy well.  Discuss it with your agent if he or she specializes in travel insurance, if not, call the insurance company directly.

For example: Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) warns  Canadians to “Avoid all non-essential travel” to …Mexico’s northern border by land and … do so only if it is absolutely necessary, after making appropriate arrangements to ensure their personal safety. Shootouts, attacks, and illegal roadblocks may occur at any time. Criminals especially target SUVs and full-size pickup trucks for theft and carjacking along highways in the states of Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Sonora, and Sinaloa.

Travellers should also avoid travelling by land to or through these border states and should do so only if it is absolutely necessary, and after making appropriate arrangements to ensure their personal safety.

It’s significant that these are the very areas Canadian snowbirds in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California have often visited for site seeing and shopping.

DFAIT, and the U.S. State Department and U.K.’s Foreign and Colonial Office have also issued similar warnings for areas in Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and Africa.

If the word “research” frightens you, settle down.  It’s easy.  On the left hand side of our homepage we provide direct links to Canadian, U.S., and British government Travel Reports & Warnings sites that list the countries and the areas within countries that you should avoid. Click on the link, then click on the countries you are intending to visit (and don’t forget the countries through which you will be transiting) and get quick, accurate updates.

Then, talk directly to your travel insurance advisor and make sure you understand what your particular policy will, or WILL NOT cover in a specific country or region. In this respect, make sure you talk to someone who knows the details of the policy and can speak authoritatively. Do not accept a blanket statement such as “you’re covered for everything, don’t worry.” No travel insurance policy covers “everything.”

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