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Terrorism and Travel Insurance
by Rudy Maxa for Marketplace

If you planned a trip during the last several months, the issue of terrorism probably crossed your mind at least for a moment. More and more people are buying travel insurance to protect their down payment on a tour, cruise or vacation home rental, should any number of things go wrong. But what about an act of terrorism? We asked The Savvy Traveler's Rudy Maxa whether you're covered if you cancel.

A lot of people presume they are. Check out any major travel insurance company in the U.S., and it's easy to understand why. That's because under the section covering "trip cancellation and interruption," there's almost always a clause covering incidents of terrorism.

But... and that is a very big but: the devil is in the details. What you think a travel insurance policy ought to cover may not be what your insurer has in mind.

First of all, let me mention who ought to consider buying travel insurance. If you're planning to take a tour or cruise, or rent a vacation property, and you've paid a lot of money up front, you might want to consider buying insurance. I've posted below a list of companies that will cover your costs if you hurt yourself, a close member of your family passes away, your home or business is destroyed in a fire, or some other calamity occurs before a trip. There are other events that could cause you to cancel or interrupt your travel, such as a call to jury or military duty. Those are also usually covered.

But what about this terrorism thing? It's something that I'd wager few of us ever considered before Sept. 11th. But in fact, a terrorist event has been a clause in travel insurance policies for years. There is a catch, though: In most policies, an act of terrorism has to occur in a foreign destination 30 days before you intend to visit. In some cases, that number is merely 10 days before a visit.

So, let's say, for example, you had a Mediterranean cruise planned in late October of last year, and the terrible events of Sept. 11th diminished your appetite to travel -- your policy wouldn't have covered your change of heart. New York City and Washington, DC, aren't foreign locations. And, even if they were, your trip was late October, and the flying of planes into buildings occurred outside that 10-, or even 30-day, window.

But, wait, there's more: Some policies say if your travel supplier offers an alternate trip, to a destination untouched by terrorism, you must take that trip or your coverage doesn't count, either. What all of this means is there are very specific requirements that must be met for terrorism clauses to kick in. And, what happened on the 11th day of last September, when so many folks canceled travel plans, wasn't covered by travel insurance.

Now, admittedly, many cruise lines, airlines and tour companies let travelers off the hook after 9-11 when they called to say, in effect, "You know what? I just don't feel like taking that trip I'd planned earlier." That was nice of those businesses. But it wasn't required, and no travel insurance company had to pay up, technically.

Travel insurance can be a very good thing, but shop carefully, read the fine print, and, remember, just because you think something should be covered, doesn't mean it is. Oh, by the way, I've post the address of a Web site that allows you to shop eight travel insurance companies at a time, and compare policies and prices.

From The Savvy Traveler, I'm Rudy Maxa for Marketplace.

To Read More of The Savvy Traveler On Marketplace


»You can comparison shop prices and policies of travel insurance companies by clicking on www.insuremytrip.net. But be certain to examine the fine print for each policy. Here are some of the country's largest companies offering travel insurance:

AccessAmerica, http://www.accessamerica.com

CSA, http://www.travelsecure.com

HTH Worldwide, http://www.hthworldwide.com

Medjet Assistance, http://www.medjetassistance.com; 800-963-3538; This company doesn't provide travel insurance, but it does offer medical evacuation coverage superior to most travel insurance plans.

MultiNational Underwriters, http://www.mnui.com

Travel Guard, http://www.travelguard.com

Universal Travel Protection (UTP), http://www.utravelpro.com

Travelex, http://www.travelex.com

Travel Insured, http://www.travelinsured.com

You can read - and hear - more from Rudy and company at SavvyTraveler.org!

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