If you’re planning a trip abroad, the good news is that travel insurance will cover you in most countries. However, there are a few countries with government travel warnings in place for any non-essential travel. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel to these locations, but you should be informed about where your travel insurance provider will offer coverage. For example, there have been advisories for the United States, China, Mexico, and India. Of course, it’s safe to still travel to certain areas of these countries, however, researching why a travel advisory is in place can help you with your travel plans. You also might get an idea when a travel ban will be lifted or if a travel advisory is no longer in effect.
Here’s information about countries on a travel advisory list and how this might affect your trip and travel insurance.
Why Travel Advisories are In Place
A country’s government may issue a travel advisory if there are safety concerns in other countries. This helps residents know where they need to take precautions with travel. A travel advisory is different from a travel alert:
A travel alert might be issued short-term to make travellers aware of a particular danger.
Travel alert examples include:
● Health-related outbreaks like measles or ebola
● Natural disasters or severe weather like a cyclone or tsunami threat
● Terrorism like 9/11 or high levels of crime
● Political upheaval and acts of war
● Protests and political unrest
Travel warnings are issued as stronger advice, recommending that tourists and travellers should avoid all travel to a particular country. This can be due to instability in government or the removal of a consulate or embassy there. Examples of countries with travel warnings in place include Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. See the full list below.
Travel Advisory Durations
A travel advisory might be set up by a government for a specific amount of time. Both short- and long-term advisories can occur.
Long-Term Travel Advisories
If there’s instability in the government and riots in the streets, a long-term travel advisory might be in place. Governments set these up if they can’t readily assist travellers in another country.
Short-Term Travel Advisories
Short-term travel advisories might be put in place if a natural disaster has occurred and it’s not safe for people to travel to a specific area. A short-term advisory can also be set up if there are demonstrations before a country’s next election.
Can You Still Visit With a Travel Advisory in Place?
If a travel advisory is in place for a particular country, you can still visit. However, you might be taking a risk. The advisory is like advice that’s in place to help you know when there’s trouble of some type in another country. Hence, travelling there despite the advisory will be at your own discretion.
What If You Already Have a Trip Scheduled?
If you’ve scheduled a trip and a travel advisory is put in place after you made your travel plans, you might want to contact the airline, rental car company, and hotel. Travellers can explain that they planned the trip in advance and now a travel advisory is in place. Let the company know that you would either like to cancel or reschedule to a later date.
If the hotel, rental car company or airline won’t allow you to cancel, you might want to open a dispute or chargeback with your credit card provider. You can open a dispute and explain about the travel advisory in place.
Your credit card company will sometimes credit all the money back to you depending on the amount and time frame. They may also credit some of the money back to you. If a lot of time has passed, they might not credit the money back to you as they investigate the dispute. Typically credit card companies have specific time frames in place for filing chargebacks as do banks if you are using a debit card.
Why Travel Insurance is Recommended
One of the best ways to safeguard your travel plans is to purchase travel insurance before your trip. With most trip cancellation or Cancel for any Reason (CFAR) policies, if you need to cancel due to a travel advisory, illness or other reason, you can recoup your money.
Travel Insurance Benefits
Types of travel insurance include:
● Trip protection coverage: Flight cancellations and flight delays
● Medical coverage: If you require emergency care or ambulatory care
● Rental car coverage: If you need to change or cancel a reservation
● Hotel coverage: If you need to change or cancel a reservation
● Baggage coverage: If your luggage or other items like musical equipment or sports gear is lost or stolen
Exclusions with Travel Insurance
Travel insurance typically does not include coverage to areas where there is political or civil unrest or acts of war and rioting. A travel insurance company may have other exclusions. Some travel insurance policies may not cover you if there was a travel advisory in place before you booked your trip so read your policy terms and conditions carefully before you by the insurance.
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Questions to Ask About a Travel Advisory
When a travel advisory or travel warning is issued, there are a few questions to consider before you book your trip.
Is the travel advisory specifically for the area you’re visiting or another part of the country?
For example, if a weather-related advisory is in Florida due to hurricanes but you’re travelling to California, that won’t impact your trip.
What are the types of dangers associated with this type of advisory?
A travel advisory was issued for Cancun last year after several gangs were found in tourist areas. If you were visiting a resort there, your safety might be at risk. In this case, it was gang-related and not directed against tourists. However, tourists were still cautioned to stay on their hotel property.
How long is the travel advisory or warning in place? When is it expected to end?
If a travel advisory is in place due to a measles outbreak in Germany, you might be safe to still plan your trip if you’re not travelling for another year. Consider only booking fully refundable reservations on a credit card and purchase travel insurance.
Are other governments posting the same travel advisory concerns?
If multiple countries start posting travel advisories, then this might indicate that a threat of some type may be imminent. These might be influenced by the news media or politics. However, when countries advise against travel due to terrorist attacks or other types of violence, it might be best to heed the warnings.
If you plan to proceed with your travel plans, ensure you know where the consulate or embassy is located for that particular country if they ever make evacuations.
What If I Can’t Cancel My Plans?
Let’s say you have to travel to an area with a travel advisory and you can’t cancel or change your plans. Maybe it’s work-related and your boss won’t let you change your travel dates. There are a few extra safety precautions you can take.
● Let the Canadian government know where you will be staying and provide them your contact information.
● Monitor the news to ensure the situation doesn’t worsen. Remember, if conditions become unstable in a country, your safety is important. Check the status of the travel advisory and the news right up to the day of your trip.
● Give your travel itinerary and contact information to friends and family. Plan to check-in periodically via text, email or phone.
● Have a plan if an emergency occurs or if evacuations are ordered. Find the nearest consulate or embassy. Know where the nearest hospital is located. Keep an emergency bag with you at all times (phone, ID, cash, credit cards, water, food, any medications, extra clothes).
Countries with Travel Advisories and Travel Warnings in Effect as of September 2019:
Travel Warning: According to the Government of Canada, these countries are listed as “Avoid All Travel”.
Note: Travel insurance CANNOT cover or protect you with claims.
● Central African Republic
● North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
● South Sudan
Travel Advisory: According to the Government of Canada, these countries are listed as “Exercise a High Degree of Caution”.
Note: You may want to reconsider travel to these locations as insurance MAY or MAY NOT cover you.
● Bosnia and Herzegovina
● Cabo Verde
● Costa Rica
● Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
● Dominican Republic
● El Salvador
● Equatorial Guinea
● Papua New Guinea
● Sierra Leone
● Sri Lanka
● Saudi Arabia
● South Africa
● Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Travel Advisory: According to the Government of Canada, “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” to these areas.
Note: You may want to reconsider travel to these locations as insurance MAY or MAY NOT cover you.
● Burkina Faso
● Democratic Republic of the Congo
Travel Advisory: According to the Government of Canada, “Exercise Normal Security Precautions” with these countries.
Note: Travel insurance coverage can vary by provider.
● American Samoa
● Antigua and Barbuda
● British Virgin Islands
● Cayman Islands
● Canary Islands
● Cook Islands
● Czech Republic
● Falkland Islands
● French Guinea
● French Polynesia
● Marshall Islands
● Micronesia (FSM)
● New Caledonia
● New Zealand
● North Macedonia
● Northern Marianas
● Puerto Rico
● Saint Kitts and Nevis
● Saint Lucia
● Saint Maarten
● Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
● San Marino
● Sao Tome and Principe
● Solomon Islands
● South Korea
● Turks and Caicos Islands
● United States
● U.S. Virgin Islands
Protect Your Travel Plans and Stay Safe
No one wants to be caught in the middle of a riot or have to be evacuated or airlifted from another country. Before making travel plans, always check the travel advisories. Purchase travel insurance so you'll have trip protection coverage. That way if you need to cancel, you can recoup your money. Lastly, check the travel advisories before booking your trip, a few weeks before your trip and then just prior to leaving. That way you can travel confidently abroad.
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