Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada

February 02, 2011 15:04 ET

Travel Insurers Urge Coverage for All Middle East Travel

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 2, 2011) - Canadians planning travel to the Middle East should ensure they buy travel insurance to protect themselves against the possibility that the unrest in Egypt spills over into other countries in the region, says the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada. Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has issued an Avoid All Travel warning, for Canadians contemplating travel to Egypt.

"The turmoil in Egypt cannot be viewed in isolation," says David Hartman, president of THIA. "It is bound to have implications beyond Egypt's borders, and Canadian tourists, expatriates, students, business executives and family visitors need to remain vigilant and have their assets and lives protected if, and when, they travel into this region. 

He says travel insurance may provide cover for not only the costs of medical emergencies resulting from/or incidental to riots or civil disruptions, and in accordance with the policy wording (so long as the client was not an active participant in the demonstrations), but it can also cover the client's costs in the event a trip is cancelled, interrupted, delayed or otherwise disrupted and the Canadian government issues a Travel Warning after the insurance comes into effect. However once a travel warning is issued for a country, travellers may not be able to buy insurance coverage for any disruptions occurring in that country.

Mr. Hartman notes that insurance will not be able to protect travellers from a stray bullet or physical harm if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, however it can help them get help and guidance if they are caught stranded due to street rioting, if they need to get in touch with their government authorities or their families, if they are stuck in an airport or hotel, lost their baggage or need sudden medical care or legal assistance.

"Similarly, travel insurance will not cover losses for clients who intentionally participate in civil disobedience or riots, or fail to heed the advice of authorities trying to keep them out of harm's way by keeping them confined to their hotels or other shelters," says Mr. Hartman. "Typically, where trips are interrupted or cancelled, airlines, hotels and tour operators will assist with trying to secure alternate travel arrangements for their clients."

Mr. Hartman also urges travellers planning trips into the Middle East in the foreseeable future to consult with qualified advisors who have experience in travel insurance sales and who will guide them with the purchase of appropriate products: pointing out what is covered, under what conditions, and, more specifically, what may not be covered.

"This situation is a little more complicated than advising someone to buy insurance for a weekend trip across Canada's southern border," says Mr. Hartman. "It also requires continuing vigilance of activities in the destination region and regular monitoring of the Canadian Government travel advisories. It is the responsibility of the travelling customer to be clear about the terms of coverage and to know the protection they are buying." 

About THIA. THIA is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. Its website is http://www.thiaonline.com/.

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