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Does travel insurance cover acts of terrorism?

Thankfully, terrorist incidents are very rare. But they can occur, so it’s best to be prepared just in case the unthinkable happens. Find out what your travel insurance covers you for and how you can get extra protection.

Thankfully, terrorist incidents are very rare. But they can occur, so it’s best to be prepared just in case the unthinkable happens. Find out what your travel insurance covers you for and how you can get extra protection.

Written by
Helen Phipps
Insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
5 MARCH 2024
4 min read
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What is terrorism cover?

Terrorism insurance pays out if you have to cancel or cut short your trip because of a terrorist atrocity. It gives you more protection than the standard medical cover you’d get with a basic travel policy. 

It’ll cover you from the moment you take out a policy, during your time away and if your travel home is disrupted. Some policies also include counselling and treatment for stress or shock following an attack.

What do insurance providers consider as terrorism?

For insurance purposes, an act of terrorism is defined as an act of violence by an individual or group that is motivated by a political, religious or ideological cause and is intent on intimidating the public.

It can also be an incident that has been declared an act of terrorism by either the UK Government or the government of the country where the act occurred.

The exact wording in a travel policy might differ slightly depending on who the provider is but, generally, they all amount to the same thing. 

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

Does standard travel insurance cover acts of terrorism?

Most basic travel policies won’t pay out for claims related to terrorist events. Although you’ll still receive some level of emergency medical cover so you can get immediate treatment if you’re injured in a terror incident, your damaged belongings are unlikely to be covered. And you can’t expect your repatriation back to the UK to be covered either.

If a terrorist attack closes an airport or delays your travel plans, you could be stuck abroad for a while. Most insurance providers won’t cover you for costs arising from terror-related cancellation or delays. But your airline or travel agent does have a responsibility to get you home as soon as it’s safe and possible to do so.

If you want full cover for a terrorist act, you’ll usually need to pay extra for an add-on or a separate policy. Each policy is different though, so it’s always a good idea to check exactly what you’re covered for. 

What does a terrorism travel insurance policy cover?

A specialist terrorism policy is designed to cover you for all types of claims relating to acts of terror. It’s not a substitute for your main travel insurance policy though. So, you’ll still need standard cover for all the other eventualities you’d usually include in travel insurance.

A terrorism travel policy will typically cover you for: 

  • Holiday cancellation – you can make a claim to recover your holiday costs if you need to cut short your trip or abandon it altogether because of a terrorist attack. It’s important to arrange your terrorism insurance as soon as you book your holiday.
  • Emergency medical expenses – travel insurance with terrorism cover can protect you against the high cost of medical bills if you’re injured in an attack. The policy may also include repatriation back to the UK for treatment.
  • Flight cancellations and delays – you’ll be covered if your flight can’t go ahead as scheduled because of a terror incident. 
  • Personal belongings – the possessions you take with you, including money and passports, are protected against damage or loss caused by acts of terrorism.  

What if a terrorist attack happens before I travel?

If an incident occurs before you travel, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) might advise against travelling to your chosen destination. In this instance, your tour operator should either offer you an alternative destination or travel dates, or give you a full refund for your trip. 

If the FCDO doesn’t advise against travel and your trip is still going ahead as planned, you can still choose not to go if you’re worried. But bear in mind that you’re unlikely to be refunded or receive a payout on a standard travel policy simply because you no longer feel safe travelling.

Travel policies with terrorism cover, on the other hand, might refund you if a terrorist act is committed within a set distance of where you’re due to stay.

What destinations are covered by terrorism insurance? 

Terrorism insurance policies will cover you for most destinations around the world. But you may not be covered if you’re visiting countries considered high risk. These include:

  •  Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • North Korea
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • The Occupied Palestinian Territories
  • Yemen
  • Anywhere the FCDO has advised against all travel or all but essential travel.

How do I know which holiday destinations are at risk?

The FCDO issues guidance when they believe a country is unsafe to travel to. They’ll also offer advice on actions you can take in other countries that don’t carry quite such a severe risk, so that you feel prepared. 

Remember, the chances of terrorism affecting your trip are tiny, but it doesn’t mean you should be unprepared. If you’re concerned, check your policy documents and talk to your insurance provider.

Why not compare travel insurance premiums today? Tell us a bit about you and where you plan to travel, and see how much you could save.

Frequently asked questions

How long does a terrorism insurance policy last?

You can either take out a policy that covers you for a single trip or an annual policy covering you for as many trips as you like during a 12-month period. There may be a limit on the number of days you can spend away at any one time though – normally 31 days.

Who can take out a terrorism travel insurance policy?

It’s possible to get terrorism travel insurance policies for individuals, couples and families with children under the age of 18. You’ll also be able to take out cover if you’re travelling on business.

Can I increase my travel insurance cover?

If you’ve checked your travel insurance policy and don’t feel it’s enough, talk to your insurance provider and see if you can extend it. Many providers will be able to enhance the level of cover and number of features offered but will charge you an increased premium to do so.

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Helen Phipps - insurance expert

Having worked in both sides of the industry, Helen’s a real insurance expert. She’s worked directly with several insurance providers and now Compare the Market. She’s always searching for the cheapest prices for customers and is passionate about saving people money. Being married with two kids, Helen knows all about the cost of living and the benefits of having the right products and insurance for the whole family.

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