Travelling these days can almost be described as a science. Where many used to romanticise about throwing caution to the wind and fearlessly embarking on an adventure to the unknown, now we must sprinkle those impulsive urges with a healthy dose of caution and common sense.
Thankfully you do not need to pack a crystal ball in your luggage to be ‘in the know’. The magic of modern technology will provide you with all the information you need. When travelling to some of the less-frequented, hidden gems of the world such as the Middle East, travel insurance is a must, and it is best to read all the fine print.
Play by the Rules
The world is still, most definitely, a beautiful oyster, filled with amazing experiences and curiosities. Many travellers feel drawn to less standard destinations in pursuit of a genuinely authentic experience. Since many of these places are not deemed ‘typical tourist/holiday destinations’ their landscapes, cultures and way of life have been all but untouched by the modern western world.
However, when visiting these countries it is even more important to research their laws, rules and customs prior to travelling to ensure your own safety and to be respectful towards your hosts. For example, when visiting the Middle East, travel insurance is an absolute must but so is recognising and respecting local traditions in regards to clothing, manners and behaviour.
Once you have researched your proposed destination it is time to read all the fine print in regards to your travel insurance. It is best to frequently refer to the FCO’s (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) website for the most up-to-date reports on any world destinations’ physical and political status. Fortunately, these updates are easily accessed by computers and phones these days, so staying alert and vigilant before and during your visit can become second-nature.
Also, know that the travel insurance industry, with your best interest in mind, is also monitoring and following all of the FCO’s recommended travel guidelines. Thus, if the FCO says ‘don’t go’, you simply won’t be able to purchase decent and comprehensive travel insurance for that destination.
If your destination is in the Middle East, travel insurance may very well be more expensive and may exclude certain geographical areas from your plan. For example, currently the FCO has advised ‘against all travel’ to Yemen. Despite Yemen’s paradise-like beaches and landscape, the country’s escalating civil conflicts and terrorist attacks have flagged them as an official ‘no-go’ zone. The FCO even goes so far as to advise all foreigners to leave as soon as possible. Consequently, no matter how determined you are to spend your Christmas on one of Yemen’s idyllic beaches, you will not be able to purchase travel insurance, and may struggle to find travel options to the country in the first place.
Other advisories from the FCO are more precise and detailed. If you are travelling to Jordan in the Middle East, travel insurance will probably be obtainable but may have geographical restrictions for coverage within the country. The FCO advises extreme caution while visiting Jordan in general, but elevates their warnings for the areas that are within 3km of the entire Syrian border. The potential for stray mortars, small gun fire and terrorist attacks have increased in the past few months and poses a significant risk to both residents and visitors.
The FCO is an excellent source of up-to-date information on both the political and geographical status of any destination. Most travellers prefer not to put themselves at risk while travelling, especially when travelling for pleasure. The FCO monitors the pulse of the world’s conflicts so that travellers can make wise decisions regarding their safety. Sadly, until there is less political unrest and violence in the Middle East, travel insurance will remain high or possibly unobtainable. The beauty of these countries will have to wait to be discovered.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family and annual travel insurance for those planning to travel for business or leisure. If you’re looking for the best deal on Middle East travel insurance or policies for Europe, Asia, USA, Australia and anywhere else in the world, InsureMore can help. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.