One of the many ubiquitous terms that are often presented with a travel insurance policy is the "known event." Many people will see this, or be warned of this when purchasing a travel insurance policy. But what does this term mean? And how can it ultimately affect your travel insurance policy, even if you're covered?
Because of the nature of travel insurance, many insurance underwriters will refuse to pay claims for events that can be "reasonably foreseen." In many cases, once a "known event" is identified, a travel insurance company will refuse to pay any claims that are a direct result of the situation if you did not purchase your travel insurance policy before the event was identified.
Known events can take many different shapes and forms, from civil war outbreaks to natural disasters. And if you are caught in the middle of a "known event," you may be left on your own to navigate the situation - without the assistance of your travel insurance provider.
So what type of situations qualify as a "known event" in the travel insurance world? If you have a suspicion that one of these three events could affect your travels, you'll want to buy your travel insurance as soon as you confirm your trip.
In September of 2014, Air France declared a pilots' strike, protesting the expansion of the company's low-cost carrier throughout Europe. The two-week strike canceled thousands of flights on Air France from around the world, and cost the French flag carrier an estimated $353 million. The strike also canceled hundreds of flights over the period, stranding thousands of customers mid-transit around the world.
Because the pilots' union announced to both Air France and the public that the strikes were imminent, the event immediately became a "known event" for travel insurance underwriters around the world. Travel Guard, one of the major travel insurance companies in the United States and Canada, stopped offering travel insurance coverage for the Air France pilot strike on policies purchased on or after September 14, 2014.
Because travel insurance is often purchased as a policy for unforeseen events, an announced strike may not qualify for benefits. Once announced, travelers have a reasonable warning that their travels could be interrupted by flight cancellations. If you are concerned that a flight could be grounded by an airline strike, it is advisable to purchase travel insurance with the initial deposits on your trips, instead of after the strike is announced. Otherwise, you could be forced to find a way home without assistance.
Earlier in 2014, the Icelandic volcano Bardarbunga was suspected of erupting, after seismic activity was discovered at the site of the volcano. The last time a volcano erupted in Iceland (Eyjafjallajökull, 2011), a large cloud of ash was thrown into the sky, effectively closing air traffic routes into and out of Europe. The result was thousands of canceled flights and a total loss of over $1.7 billion dollars for the airline industry as a whole. Therefore, once activity was discovered around the volcano site, many travel insurance companies were quick to declare the situation a "known event."
Some natural disasters, like volcano eruptions, are hard to predict and impossible to prevent. Other natural events, like hurricanes, are easier to see coming - meaning travel insurance companies will declare a "known event" as soon as a storm is named. Weather and natural disasters can be unpredictable and can create headaches for flyers. If you know you'll be traveling during a regular weather system, like hurricane season, be sure you understand which "known events" could affect your insurance policy.
Otherwise, consider purchasing a policy well ahead of your travels, so if an event takes place, you'll have help in navigating the situation at hand.
In February of 2014, the military actions in the Crimea region of the Ukraine seemed to catch the travel world off guard. As a result of the actions, and continued civil war taking place throughout the Ukraine, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning, advising American citizens to avoid non-essential travel to the nation.
Soon after the events started to escalate, travel insurance companies immediately began declaring the situation as a "known event." Insurance provider Tin Leg declared that, as of March 5, their travel insurance plans would no longer be eligible for travel to Ukraine, avoiding any future travel insurance claims from travelers to the area.
There are many places in the world that are constantly under political turmoil, with the possibility of military actions continually imminent. If you are concerned about how your travel insurance policy may be affected, a good first step is to check the Department of State website for travel alerts. If a travel alert is declared, or you have planned travel to an area that is under a travel alert, consider purchasing travel insurance as soon as you confirm your plans. Additionally, for those areas under a travel alert, make sure your travel insurance policy covers travel to the area.
Otherwise, your policy may not be valid for your travels.
By understanding what qualifies as a "known event," you can make better decisions on when travel insurance is needed for your adventures. In some situations, buying travel insurance sooner rather than later can save you money and frustration in the worst case scenario.