Pirate Attacks and Travel Insurance

Published by March 7, 2011

Travelers planning cruises off around the Middle East and Africa frequently ask how travel insurance can protect the vacation in case of a pirate attack.  This region has become a hot spot for such criminal activity and has called into question the safety of such a trip.   A recent article from Fox News addressed the issue of piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Pirates hijacked 53 ships and held a total of 1,181 hostages for ransom last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Forty nine of those ships and 1,016 of those hostages – from commercial and private vessels — were seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia, a statistic that was brought into sharp relief last month when Somali pirates hijacked a yacht and on Feb. 22 murdered the four Americans aboard. Two days later, a Danish family, including three children, was taken from their yacht by Somali pirates and as of this writing had been moved to a larger pirate vessel off the Somali Coast.

These very unfortunate events and statistics are renewing and raising awareness about Somali piracy, and many piracy experts echo the advice of Amb. David H. Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, who notes that “leisure travelers have no business going into the Western Indian Ocean until the crisis caused by Somali pirates has ended.”

Travelers concerned about piracy threatening a global cruise should compare policies closely.  The available coverage will vary depending on the plan.

Some policies cover trip cancellation and trip interruption for reasons of hijacking.  This is not limited to pirate attacks, however, it is important to understand this requires that the individual actually be hijacked before coverage applies.  If this happens, travelers can be reimbursed for the unused travel arrangements and last minute expenses to return home early.  Hijacking is not covered by every plan, so review the policy language closely.

Emergency medical and medical evacuation coverage helps travelers who suffer injuries from such an attack.  The former covers the cost of medical treatment, while the latter provides medical transportation, to adequate medical facilities and even back home if necessary.

For those considering a trip to this region, but have concerns about whether the trip will be safe should consider a policy with cancel for any reason coverage.  This allows the traveler to cancel the trip without explanation, even if it is the fear of a pirate attack.  To get this coverage, shop early because cancel for any reason is only available for a month or less from the first trip payment date.

Always refer to the certificate of insurance for details.

Source: How to Survive a Pirate Attack