There may be many good reasons to avoid a country that has been designated high-risk by your own government. In some cases, however, certain areas of a “high-risk” country may be perfectly safe.
Mali, for example, has been in the red zone for the past couple of years, despite the fact that there have not been any incidents in the south of the country. Some embassies may distinguish between different regions of a country, while others will simply apply a blanket travel advisory that puts the entire country off-limits.
Many travelers avoid so-called high-risk countries not just because they are deemed dangerous, but also because it can be extremely difficult to find travel insurance that will cover them. We have repeatedly recommended World Nomads here on the site, but even they won’t cover you if you are traveling to a country under a travel warning or advisory. So, who will?
Finding out if your destination is under a travel advisory
Before you start scouting travel insurance companies, you first need to find out if your destination is under a travel warning. To do so, you need to check with your government directly. If you are in the US, this page from the State Department has what you need. If you are in the UK, head over to travel advice page offered by the Foreign Office.
Remember: travel insurance companies determine whether you are covered or not based on the ruling of your government. If all the governments in the world consider a country to be safe – except for yours – guess what? You won’t be covered.
Finding coverage for high-risk countries
Let’s get this out of the way first: travel insurance for “high-risk” countries can be expensive. There are some companies that make the cost bearable, but in most cases, you will likely have to pay a premium price to have coverage in these places.
Frontier Travel Insurance
Frontier Travel Insurance is dedicated to providing coverage to high-risk areas. They are one of the only insurance companies offering something called “war and terrorism coverage.” They have several plans to choose from, and you can get coverage for anything from kidnapping to blackmail.
Travel Insurance Center
Travel Insurance Center is primarily geared towards US residents. There are 10 different policies for high-risk coverage. One nice feature of the site is that you can have an online chat with a representative to get more information. Also, the comparative pricing grid is helpful.
Other things to keep in mind
Unfortunately, this whole “high-risk” thing is not as cut and dry as it may seem. We mentioned earlier that many insurers don’t provide coverage to countries that find themselves on your government’s advisory list.
Well, there is another possibility that can eliminate your coverage. If you travel to a country where there is a known potential for something to happen – I know, what exactly does that mean? – you could lose your coverage if circumstances change in that country.
For example, let’s say you travel to country A where there is a bit of social unrest going on. It’s nothing major, just some protests, but it’s unclear how things will play out. The country is not under a travel advisory or warning from your government, and it seems like things are generally secure despite the protests.
You travel to country A, and after one week, the whole thing blows up. The protests turn violent, there is a coup, etc. In this case, you travel insurance company may actually deny you coverage if something happens to you during this unrest. They may say that despite the fact there was not a travel warning, there were signs that things could take a turn for the worse. This is why it’s incredibly important to always read the fine print of a travel insurance policy.
If you have any experience with taking out travel insurance for high-risk destinations, please drop some knowledge in the comments section. This is an area that you don’t hear much about, and it would be great to see some first hand remarks.
Photo credit: flickr user michaelgoodin