I'm trying to research options for enhanced travel insurance that is valid for regions with cautionary "advise against non-essential travel" warnings. Every approach I've tried had found nothing, usually because of mountains of country-specific warnings and SEO spam clogging the results.

Does this type of insurance have a specialist name I could search for? Are there companies (or, types of companies) that specialise in this type of insurance that I could use to start browsing? And is there anything I should know about this kind of insurance? For example, I imagine the main market is high-risk professions like NGO workers and correspondents, maybe it's normally arranged business-to business not business-to-consumer? (in which case I should use a different research strategy)

Background: Travel insurance is usually invalidated if a person travels to a location that has a government travel warning from their government. Sometimes, governments are overzealous or clumsy with how they apply these warnings.

For example, I'm in a situation where an entire region is subject to a warning (from UK FCO) - including a national park - because there were riots in the capital city of that region 3 years ago.

It's the equivalent of saying that anyone travelling to the Canadian Glacial National Park should have their insurance invalidated because there were riots in Vancouver a few years ago and they are in the same province (but applied to a country with less diplomatic clout than the Canadas of the world, so I can't see the ruling changing any time soon...).

I want to continue to be insured against the ordinary hazards, risks and medical bills that could be faced while travelling (and I don't mind paying extra if necessary), but my searches for this kind of insurance have come up a compete blank. I'm looking for a pointer on how to find it, what it's called, if it even exists as something individuals can buy...

Edit: there was a question in the comments about whether the invalidation of the travel insurance is linked to the reason for the travel warning (e.g. if the travel warning exists because of riots, would your insurance only be invalidated for riot-based problems?).

My strong suspicion, and the advice I've read in articles, is that it's simply based on entering the area with the warning. My travel insurance terms and conditions state it as essentially "All clauses of your travel insurance are void if.... [various things most people would never do] ... X. Your circumstances are a consequence of failing to follow official travel warnings."

That's kinda vague but I would imagine it tends to side with the guys with the biggest lawyers - which won't be you if you're in a hospital needing medical evacuation (or worse). There's a lot of subjectivity there - anything that happens to you in a region could be argued as a consequence of going there.

I would be amazed if other insurance companies were more generous unless they made a point of marketing products designed for travel to such regions.

  • 2
    So to clarify, your dodgy area is Canada?? Wow, I'd not even considered the riots.
    – Mark Mayo
    May 11, 2013 at 11:49
  • Also, presumably it's only invalidated IF you experience problems from a future riot, right? You'd still be covered for theft, medical, etcetera?
    – Mark Mayo
    May 11, 2013 at 11:53
  • 2
    re first question, no, Canada is just an example. It's actually Kyrgyzstan and a national park in the north of Jalal-Abad province (so, more serious riots, but it's still clearly not going to kick off in a national park 100s of miles from the centre of the riots...). Chose Canada as an example as it's more familiar and I didn't want the detail to distract (i.e. wanted to avoid "Why the heck are you going to Kyrgyzstan?" type distractions... sure you're familiar with those!) May 11, 2013 at 12:02
  • 2
    @user568458 It is perfectly acceptable to ask questions here about travel to Kyrgyzstan :)
    – Simon
    May 11, 2013 at 12:14
  • 2
    I loved Kyrgyzstan!!
    – Mark Mayo
    May 11, 2013 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


On about the 5th attempt, I found some useful stuff with searches based on "travel insurance against foreign office advice".

This kind of insurance is sometimes called "high risk travel insurance" or "war and terrorism travel insurance".

Travel Insurance Center has a handy compare tool for high risk travel insurance that lists about 6 providers and includes the most important top level information - for example most of them are US citizens only, but BUPA IPI and Insuractive had cover available internationally, and of those two, BUPA IPI seemed to be the only one to include medical costs.

Ball park figure - the BUPA IPI one I went with in the end worked out at around £90 GBP (around $135 USD), for one person, 2 weeks. It claimed to cover medical fees, repatriation, personal possessions and indemnity (with the option to add cancellation for a bit extra). Luckily I didn't need to use it... so I can't comment on how helpful or willing to cough up they are in an emergency, but I had no problem booking it while abroad.

Make sure you check the details thoroughly, for example:

  • Check they cover people of your nationality.
  • Check that vague terms like "medical support" actually do mean they cover hospital bills, medical repatriation, etc. I've seen a few that talk about offering "medical support" - but in reality after checking the small print it boils down to nothing more than a few multi-lingual nurses in a 24-hour call centre somewhere who you can call for advice if you quote your reference number - but nothing towards the cost of ambulances and hospital treatment (i.e. the important stuff).
  • The BUPA IPI one requires that you contact them before they accept Iraq or Afghanistan cover (not unreasonable...!).
  • Double check that they really do cover your target country including areas with travel warnings, and that they don't have any cunningly hidden clauses invalidating the insurance if you do things you're likely to do.

Here's a couple of companies I saw mentioned who seem to specialise in this sort of thing, and who seem to sell specialist travel insurance to individuals as well as to companies, NGOs etc.

Big international NGOs and aid agencies have this problem all the time and need insurance they can trust - so if you can, up-to-date info on who they use might be a good strategy.


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