Last updated: 02:39 PM ET, Mon November 30 2015

Travel Insurance Firms Assisting Travelers Impacted By Paris Attacks

Features & Advice | Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection | Brian Major | November 17, 2015

Travel Insurance Firms Assisting Travelers Impacted By Paris Attacks

The violent and deadly terrorist attacks that impacted Paris naturally affected travelers visiting one of the world’s most popular cities. Several major U.S. travel insurance providers reported clients whose travel plans changed following the incidents. How providers aided travelers this week provides important insight into the level of benefits and service purchasers can expect from leading firms.

As of November 16, Allianz Global Assistance received more than 100 calls from customers asking about their coverage for an upcoming trip to Paris, said company officials. About half have indicated that they intend to cancel their trip to Paris and file a claim.

Allianz offers policies that provide coverage for trip cancellation and trip interruption when there is a terrorist event at the customer's destination within 30 days of the day they are scheduled to arrive. In other words, policy holders scheduled to arrive in Paris within 30 days of last week’s attacks would have the right to cancel their trip and receive payment for their non-refundable trip costs.

Allianz policy holders already in Paris who opt to return early may, depending on the policy selected, receive payment for their unused, pre-paid expenses and also be covered for additional transportation costs to get home early.

Coincidentally, Allianz Global Assistance is based in Paris. “We have hundreds of employees on the ground there available to help customers who may need assistance,” said company officials in a statement.   

Officials at provider April USA also handled travelers impacted by Friday’s attacks, including a U.S.-based traveler in Paris scheduled to depart Saturday for Geneva. Due to the Paris incidents her flight was delayed and later canceled. The traveler’s April policy facilitated re-booking on another flight, said Jason Schreier, CEO of April USA.

April also adjusted flights and itineraries for a couple that had been scheduled to travel this past weekend to Paris following a European cruise to meet their married children, who were flying to Paris from the U.S.   

Schreier noted “It’s hard to equate the disappointment of a couple who booked Paris for their honeymoon with the lives that were lost during last week’s Paris attacks. [But] the unfortunate reality for travel agents is that you’ve got to continue doing business in a post 9/11 world.”

Officials at provider Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP) report “We have yet to receive any calls” from policy holders traveling in Paris but added, “we are proactively communicating with them for assistance.”

“Unfortunately, these circumstances highlight the risks involved in travel,” said Dean Sivley, BHTP’s CEO. “They are rare, but frightening events that influence how and when we travel. But the rewards of travel experiences far outweigh the risk [and] travel insurance helps travelers alleviate the majority of risks.”

BHTP’s ExactCare policy covers trip cancellation and interruption in the event of a terrorist attack. Sivley said BHTP customers currently in Paris who wish to return early may do so and receive coverage for costs incurred to return.

BHTP’s AirCare policies cover flight delays or cancelations due to heightened security measures, providing claim payments directly to a traveler’s debit card or Paypal or bank account. BHTP officials also advise travelers to register for the U.S. Department of State’s STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), which allows citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Above all else, be sure to purchase travel insurance well in advance of your trip. There are no policies available that cover an event after it occurs.

“Once the named terrorist event [occurs] no travel insurance policy will cover that same event for newly purchased policies,” said Schreier. “It’s only covered for policies purchased before the event occurred,” he said.

However all of the major firms provide coverage for trip impact related to terrorist events. “Naturally, other yet-to-occur terrorist events will be covered for newly purchased policies,” Schreier added.


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