Does travel insurance cover terrorism?

If a terrorist attack affects your travel plans, you may not be covered by your travel insurance. Learn how to get the right cover and where to get help and advice if you’re worried about your trip.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 24 August 2022  | 4 mins read

Key points

  • Standard travel insurance policies won’t usually cover losses that are due to a terrorist attack
  • Terrorism cover provides extra cover for things like cancellation, cutting short your trip and emergency medical expenses
  • Travel insurance won’t cover you to go to destinations where the UK government has advised against all but essential travel
  • You won’t be covered if you change your mind about a trip, but you may be able to change flight dates and destinations with your airline

What is terrorism cover?

Terrorism cover provides you with extra protection to cover the costs of disruption to your travel arrangements due to acts of terrorism.

You can take this out as a policy add-on or as separate cover.

With a terrorism insurance policy, you’ll be covered if you need to cancel, change or cut short your trip because a terrorist act has taken place at or near your destination.

How do travel insurers define an ‘act of terrorism’?

For travel insurance, an act of terrorism is defined as an act which either:

  1. Has been declared as an act of terrorism by either the UK government or the government of the country where the act occurred; or
  2. Where in the event of a delay in declaration by governments, acts which insurers believe should be covered under the policy they provide, including but not limited to the use of force or violence, of any person or group(s) of persons, whether acting alone or on behalf of or in connection with any organisation(s) or government(s), committed for political, religious, ideological or ethnic purposes or reasons including the intention to influence any government and/or to put the public, or any section of the public, in fear for such purposes. Where insurers exercise their discretion, they shall do so acting reasonably with the information available to them at the time.

Does standard travel insurance cover acts of terrorism?

No, typically standard policies only offer limited cover for terrorist attacks or exclude them from their cover altogether.

This means that if your plans are disrupted or your belongings are lost or damaged because of a terrorist event, you’re unlikely to be able to make a claim.

As a minimum, you should make sure that - if you’re caught up in an attack - your policy covers you for urgent medical treatment expenses and emergency transport (repatriation) back to the UK.

What’s covered under a terrorism travel insurance policy?

Taking out terrorism cover will give you more protection if your trip ends up being affected by a terrorist attack.

With this type of policy you’ll get cover for:

  • Cancellation if your holiday destination is affected by terrorism
  • Curtailment if a terrorist act affects your holiday while you’re there and you need to return home early
  • Emergency medical expenses including transportation costs and repatriation
  • Evacuation and emergency temporary accommodation
  • Funeral expenses
  • Travel delay costs
  • Lost or damaged belongings

The level of cover will depend on the policy, so always check the terms and conditions carefully.

What destinations are covered by terrorism insurance?

When it comes to the countries you can visit, terrorism insurance works in the same way as general travel insurance.

It will cover you for policies that extend worldwide, and the cover will apply if the terrorism occurs within a certain distance from your accommodation or destination.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be to take out terrorism cover for any trip where you’re travelling to, from or through:

  • Syria
  • Afghanistan
  • Somalia
  • Libya
  • Yemen
  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • Sudan
  • North Korea

You also won’t be covered if you travel to any country or area that the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has advised against travelling to.

How long will my terrorism travel insurance policy last?

This will depend on the type of policy you take out, as terrorism cover is available on all policy types.

If you’ve taken out a single-trip policy, your cover could last for around a month of continuous travel, but it could be longer depending on the insurance you choose.

An annual multi-trip policy will usually last for 12 months, but there may be a limit of around 30 days on how long a single trip can last.

What if there’s a terrorist attack before I travel?

Before you travel, you’ll need to check UK government advice to see what is being recommended for travel to or from your destination.

If there’s been an attack near your destination, but you’re not being advised against travelling there, your travel insurance won’t cover you if change your mind about going.

However, your airline may allow you to change the dates and destination of your flight for a fee.

If you’re advised against travelling, your tour operator or airline should allow you to change your dates or destination, or provide you with a full refund.

Depending on the location and severity, a terrorist attack might cause flight delays and travel disruption. If this happens, you’ll need to check with your airline or holiday company to find out what your options are - especially if you’re already away and want to return home.

Who can take out a terrorism travel insurance policy?

Terrorism cover works in the same way as general travel insurance.

This means adults over the age of 18 need to have their own policy and can take out single trip or annual multi-trip cover as individuals, couples or a group.

Children aged under 18 will be covered on family policies.

How much excess will I pay to claim on terrorism travel insurance?

The excess is the amount of money you’ll pay towards the cost of a claim, and it will depend on the policy and what you’re claiming for.

For instance, claiming for a cancelled flight will usually have a higher excess than lost or damaged possessions.

Are there any distance or time restrictions?

Yes, you may only be able to claim on your policy if a terrorist attack happens:

  • within the immediate 42-day period before your scheduled departure date; and
  • within a 40-mile radius of your booked accommodation

What else should I consider?

If you’re planning to go away, there are a few things you can do to help make your trip go as smoothly as possible:

  1. Make sure it’s safe to travel

    Check official travel advice before you choose your destination and before you travel. You can use the FCDO website to keep updated on travel advice and threat levels

  2. Choose the right travel insurance

    Whether it’s a single trip or annual cover, make sure you get the right policy to suit your needs and buy it as soon as you’ve booked your trip. You won’t be covered for terrorism if you buy cover after an attack has happened

  3. Know your rights

    Check refund policies and learn what help and compensation you’re entitled to from your tour operator or airline if your flights or trip get cancelled

  4. Check your policy

    Make sure you understand what it includes for travel disruption and check the exclusions. You can usually tailor your cover by buying policy add-ons. Take your policy details away with you and share them with someone at home in case they need to contact insurers on your behalf

  5. Understand how your flights work

    Check with your airline what’s possible if you need to change or rearrange your flights. And find out what rights you have if your flight’s delayed or cancelled. You can get advice from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website