Each year thousands of innocent people worldwide are injured, killed or have their travel plans shattered by acts of terrorism.
Terrorism is a standard exclusion in insurance policies. Increasingly insurers are offering some cover, but not the all-encompassing insurance you'd have following a natural disaster.
The issue vexes me and I did some digging to find out what would happen to me if I was injured, but not killed in a terrorist attack.
The Insurance Council of New Zealand's chief executive, Tim Grafton, tells me insurers can't offer the same cover for terrorism as other risks because their reinsurers, who share the risk, won't allow it.
Yet some quietly include cover off their own bat, at least for medical treatment and evacuation. At least two, Cover.More and 1Cover, have unlimited medical cover in their comprehensive policies if you're injured.
AA Traveller pays up to $250,000 medical/evacuation cover, WorldCare $200,000, Southern Cross Travel Insurance offers $100,000, and TOWER has a sum of $5m to be shared between customers for any one attack.
I was surprised to find that my ASB Platinum credit card travel insurance (underwritten by Cigna) offers $100,000 medical/evacuation cover. That's not as good as what's offered by 1Cover or Cover.More, but it's not a straight no either.
A sum such as $100,000 sounds like a lot of money to patch you up or get you on a medivac flight out. But it wouldn't go far in overseas hospitals if your injuries require operations. What if the entire family is injured?
The other risk from terrorism covered by some insurers is a payment on death. AA Traveller and WorldCare pay out a lump sum in that case, but usually less than if you die overseas by other means.
Anything else and you're usually out of luck. You can't cancel an upcoming trip because of "perceived threat of terrorism". Nor can you claim for trip interruption expenses, or cancel a holiday bought after the event happens. Of the policies I read I found only two insurers offering limited cover for travel disruption due to terrorism. That's TINZ and AA Traveller.
Excluded is any terrorism cover if you've booked after a "do not travel" or "avoid non-essential travel" advisory is published about a country on the government website Safetravel.govt.nz.
Generally you're out of luck if you miss your flight home due to terrorist activities, lose your belongings or your passport, or your travelling companion is injured and you have to change your plans. Most insurance policies won't pay out in any of these circumstances.
Grafton says if your policy doesn't cover terrorism and you suffer a loss you'll need to contact the nearest New Zealand embassy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, tells me it will give advice and assist on the ground where possible, but won't pay the bill for your medical care or your return to New Zealand.
Even if you're not covered there may be another way. Sometimes insurers will make "ex gratia" payments, even though you're not covered technically. What that means in my humble opinion is that they'll pay if the pain of not paying is greater for the insurance company because you're a thorn in their side or the negative PR of not paying you is too bad, you might get an ex gratia payment.
Imagine an insurer refusing to help a Kiwi stranded in a Sri Lankan hospital. It wouldn't be a good look. I'm sure there would be a case for paying as well if the positive PR is of commercial interest to the insurer.
Some of the other risks that insurers rarely cover, but Kiwis could be caught up in include civil war, military coup, pandemics and contagious diseases. I did notice that the World Travellers policy offers $1500 for evacuation in the event of "civil unrest for the Pacific Islands".
Comparetravelinsurance.co.nz has a useful table showing terrorism cover.