Every time terrorists strike an international destination, American travelers want to know: Is it safe to travel?
It’s an important question to ask, and a hard question to answer. The truth is that terrorism represents a very, very small risk to travelers. However, terrorist incidents in places once considered safe, such as Paris and London, have made Americans anxious. While no destination is 100% risk-free, here’s how you can assess the risk of terrorism and other threats and protect yourself while traveling.
Terrorism is scary. All it takes is one malevolent act to derail not only your trip, but your life. Remember, however, that statistically the chances of being killed by a terrorist attack are extremely low. For example, 2015 has been the worst year for terrorist attacks in France, to date. Yet, as Travel+Leisure calculates, “of the 151.8 million people who spent time in France in 2015, 142 died from terrorism, putting the odds of being killed in a terror attack at just .00000094.”1
That being said, prudent travelers should avoid visiting areas where terrorist attacks are frequent or very likely to occur. The best way to assess the risk is to check the State Department's site to see if any travel warnings or travel alerts have been issued for your destination. Understand the difference between these two terms: a travel alert notifies you of short-term events that can affect travel, such as a contentious election or a temporarily elevated terror risk. A travel warning is issued when a country has long-term, serious problems such as frequent terrorist attacks or armed conflict. A warning means the State Department strongly discourages Americans from traveling there.2
However, terrorist acts, by their very nature, are unpredictable. How can you reduce your risk and preserve your peace of mind? Here are some possible strategies.
Travel journalist Wendy Perrin points out that “when planning a vacation, we tend to worry more about spectacular risks—whether a terrorist attack or an epidemic of norovirus on a cruise ship—than about boring risks like, say, overexposure to the sun.”
When planning your next trip overseas, focus on reducing the most likely risks. The number-one cause of death for healthy Americans abroad? Car accidents.4 The next most common causes are homicide, suicide and drowning. Read the State Department’s country-specific information carefully, as well as local travel guides, so you understand the risks for your destination. Avoiding danger may be as simple as hiring a driver instead of renting a car; staying away from certain parts of a city after dark; or swimming only at beaches with lifeguards.
Another way to protect yourself: Purchase international travel insurance. The Classic Plan from Allianz Global Assistance includes up to $25,000 in emergency medical and dental benefits and $500,000 in emergency medical transportation benefits, so you can get the care you need in case of a covered medical emergency. Allianz Global Assistance also provides free, 24-hour access to our travel assistance team, whether by phone or via the TravelSmart app.
Here’s a quick primer on how travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance covers terrorism.
Here’s some more information on how travel insurance covers terrorism. Wherever you travel, be cautious and pay attention to your surroundings. Always read your insurance policy documents carefully, and call Allianz if you have questions about terrorism coverage or anything else. Travel safely!