Rising tensions between North Korea and the international community has raised alarm bells for Australian travellers. The series of nuclear tests and ballistic missiles issued from the region has triggered worldwide condemnation and a growing sense of global instability.
Those concerned over the threat of imminent warfare have flooded travel insurance hotlines with queries over their cover.
travellers query safety over escalating north korea tensions
Natalie Ball, director, Comparetravelinsurance.com.au says,
"In recent weeks we've seen a surge in queries relating to travel insurance cover for 'acts of war'. Travellers on route to South Korea, Japan and the United States in particular have expressed fears over the escalating possibility of warfare. Right now Aussies are questioning their safety when travelling to these areas and understandably so."
However, Ball notes that the Australian government has not updated its travel warning to South Korea despite the looming threat of violence from its neighboring country.
"What we currently know is that the travel advisory to South Korea is at its lowest level. DFAT has not changed its travel warning to the area since July and suggests only that travellers continue to 'practice normal safety precautions."
While the Australian government has not advised travellers to avoid South Korea, it has also not ruled out the possibility of a possible attack and encourages Australians to monitor unfolding events closely.
"Due to North Korea's continued hostilities towards its surrounding nations, DFAT is not ruling out the possibility of a provocation. While the government is not suggesting that you should cancel your travel plans, it is advising you to keep a close eye on any developments and follow the instructions of local authorities once overseas."
war, terrorism & travel insurance
Travellers are questioning their provisions amidst a politically unstable travel climate, and rightly so. However, Ball warns that travel insurance will generally exclude cover for losses over war and terrorism.
"Insurers are usually forthcoming in what they will and will not cover and as a rule, acts of war and terrorism are usually excluded events."
Every insurer will offer varying degrees of cover. As always, benefits will differ across ranging cover levels. See which insurers cover terrorism here.
travel warnings explained
While a travel warning has not yet been issued to South Korea, Ball says that Australians should be wary of travelling against government advice.
“Once a country has been added to a high-risk category that means you will most likely have limited consular assistance once over there. Heading to a potential warzone or a region of civil unrest despite government warnings should be strongly reconsidered.”
While travelling against government advice is greatly discouraged, you may still have provision to claim on your travel insurance under certain circumstances. For example, a heightened warning level due to a threat like terrorism would not restrict your ability to claim on a lost or stolen camera or a bout of food poisoning in that region. However, claims relating to the travel warning- in this case warfare- would not be covered. Learn more about travel insurance and travel warnings.
travel insurance; your trip essential
Despite cover exclusions surrounding war and terrorism, Ball emphasizes the importance of travel insurance, particularly during times of crisis.
"Putting aside the current political situation, the possibility that you will fall ill or require emergency assistance shouldn't be ignored. Healthcare costs overseas can be frighteningly expensive and without travel insurance, you run the risk of accumulating massive debts, in a foreign and unsupported environment. Travelling without a policy in place is not just irresponsible, it can be downright dangerous."
Ball says that a thorough understanding of your policy is key to peace of mind.
“While we strongly recommend obtaining travel insurance no matter where you’re headed, you should always read your policy to understand any relevant exclusions. It’s always a good idea to buy cover as soon as your holiday is confirmed to ensure cancellation benefits kick-in immediately. "
“We know it’s an exciting world out there, but its far better to live to tell the tale. Think twice before you decide to travel to a particularly dangerous destination. If DFAT is advising against all travel – pay attention. It could just save your life”