Does travel insurance cover protests?
The past week has seen chaos on the streets with violent protests taking place Chile, Spain and Lebanon, adding to the existing riots in Hong Kong. Amid the global tensions, travellers with plans to visit these destinations will probably have a few questions - particularly regarding what to do about travel insurance and whether it's even possible to enter these affected countries. Before you head abroad, here's what you need to know.
WHAT ARE THE PROTESTS ABOUT?
Following a rise in metro prices, crowds in Santiago protested throughout the city demanding equality. Within days, violent protests were taking place around the country, resulting in 11 fatalities.
In Spain, a call for Catalonia's independence soon turned violent when rioters stormed through Barcelona's El Prat airport, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights - nearly 400 people were injured as a result.
Lebanon too has caught global attention with citizens taking to the streets to challenge government corruption, and tensions still run high in Hong Kong.
ARE RIOTS COVERED BY TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Travellers affected by riots may be eligible to claim on their insurance and those who haven't yet invested in travel insurance are urged to do so as soon as possible, says Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au.
Once riots and disruptive protests are known, it becomes more difficult to claim, as world issues can erupt at unpredictable times and last minute purchases won't guarantee your cover. Before you make a purchase, do your research and read the fine print.
Insurance companies like 1Cover and Zoom Travel insurance have taken steps to highlight their cut-off dates, Ball explains. "Both these insurers have stated that policies purchased after 9am on the 21st of October would not provide coverage for the protests in Chile. Other insurers will have similar cut-off dates but you would need to contact them directly to find out."
WHAT TYPE OF TRAVEL INSURANCE DO I NEED?
As a general rule, lower-priced, basic policies generally don't provide cover for cancellation or travel delays caused by events such as riots or protests. When in doubt, Ball advises that you buy comprehensive travel insurance as soon as you've booked your flights to make sure you're covered if you need to cancel your trip.
"Generally speaking those already with comprehensive travel insurance policies would be eligible to claim in the event that their travels are affected by protests and strikes. This would include cover for all relevant, out-of-pocket expenses, accommodation, transport and cancellation costs."
IS CHILE SAFE?
As of 23 October 2019 DFAT's Smart Traveller website has raised its advice level to Chile's capital region and additional areas. Australians are urged to 'exercise a high degree of caution' as a result of the violence.
IS HONG KONG SAFE?
Australians travelling to Hong Kong have been advised to exercise a high degree of caution. Protests continue and there have been violent clashes between protesters and either police or opposing groups, and targeted attacks on individuals.
ARE BARCELONA AND LEBANON SAFE?
Although the official travel level to Barcelona and Lebanon has not been raised (as of October 22nd), Smart Traveller advises that tourists avoid demonstrations, monitor media and follow the advice of local authorities.'
Travellers are advised to stay informed, keep important phone numbers stored in an offline location and register your travels with DFAT.