Global conflicts, wars and terrorist activities are dramatically changing the face of travel and contributing to a growing market for specialized insurance coverage, says Bill McGovern, founder and president of McGovern Associates, a travel insurance firm. According to McGovern, while specialized insurance has always existed for certain travelers such as diplomats and company employees in hostile regions, for the everyday traveler, modern threats have expanded beyond the risk of falling ill in a foreign country, theft and/or loss of personal property, and flight cancelations.
New dangers such as terrorism can make even the “safest of places,” such as shopping malls, public transportation, and hotels potentially life-threatening environments, McGovern says.
“If you find yourself in the middle of a disturbance, most insurance coverage offer some assistance, such as getting you a one-way ticket out of the country,” said McGovern. “However, how do you get yourself to the airport if it’s a civil war that suddenly spilled into the streets, blocking the roads to the airport? What if the airport shuts down and there is no alternate public transportation? That is why, when selecting evacuation insurance, one might now consider a 24-hour assistance service, which will make any arrangements necessary to get you out of the country, including air-lifting you.” In addition to growing political unrest around the world, McGovern notes the popularity of adventure travel such as rafting and hiking in remote areas. While the vast majority of these trips are conducted in a safe, controlled environment, accidents do happen.
As a result, McGovern says insurance is available that offers search and rescue benefits. If a person should become lost, disoriented, or be reported missing while on the trip, the assistance company will pay the costs incurred to find them, which can be astronomical without insurance. This could include fuel, personnel costs, rental of motor vehicles, aircraft or helicopters, hovercraft, snowmobiles, horses, dogs, generators, and any other equipment necessary or deemed appropriate to find, recover, or rescue an individual.
“Most travelers will fortunately never find themselves in a life-or-death situation … while on vacation, but they are becoming keenly aware that the world is no longer as safe to travel in as it used to be. For travel professionals at every level, providing superior service to their customers also means helping them select the best travel insurance for their needs,” McGovern says.