How to Get Travel Insurance for High Risk Destinations



In order to determined if you are “covered” by normal travel insurance, we have to look at this both in terms of the activities you’re doing as well as where you are travelling— many of these details may be found in the “fine print” in your insurance agreement.

Many international credit cards offer travel insurance to their holders permitted the trip is 1) under a certain length of time, 2) the credit card is used to purchase transportation (flights) for the trip, 3) the trip does not travel to any country where there is a government travel warning issued by your country of residence, and 4) you do not engage in activities deemed too dangerous as stated in the policy fine print (this includes even relatively common activities like SCUBA diving for example).

Additionally, companies like World Nomads offers good travel insurance policies; however, many of the same conditions apply. I’ll outline some of the key exclusions below to give you a better idea of what I mean.


Common Travel Insurance Exclusions Regarding Locations, Travel Warnings, Sanctions, War and Terrorism

  1. Expenses incurred if You travel to a country that The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Canadian Government or Health Canada has advised travellers not to travel to during the time of Your Trip. This exclusion applies if the advisory is issued prior to Your Start Date (this is an example from a Canadian insurance plan’s exclusion list, but other countries’ plans are similar when looking at the government issued travel warnings section).

  2. War (declared or not), acts of foreign enemies or rebellion;

  3. The Insurer will not be liable to provide any coverage or make any payment hereunder if to do so would be in violation of any sanctions law or regulation which would expose the Insurer, its parent company or its ultimate controlling entity to any penalty under any sanctions law or regulation;

  4. This Policy will not cover any loss, Injury, damage or legal liability arising directly or indirectly from planned or actual travel in, to, or through Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea or the Crimea region (mostly specific to American providers).

  5. The coverage provided by this Policy does not apply to risks and claims related to Cuba, as Cuba related risks and claims are not serviced and supported by Our United States affiliates (upon which We rely for service and support), unless such coverage would be permissible under all applicable sanctions. (Specific problem when dealing with American insurance providers).

Common Travel Insurance Exclusions for Sports and Activities

  1. No cover for any competition, racing or national squad training, acrobatics, tricks, stunting, freestyle, aerials or jumps.

  2. No cover for any unaccompanied or solo dive or commercial diving.

  3. No cover for unsupported or solo climbing or solo expeditions, free mountaineering or free soloing, expeditions within the Arctic Circle, the Antarctic or Greenland, activities in inaccessible regions, exploratory expeditions and new routes, high altitude climbing over 6,000 metres, search and rescue operations.

  4. No cover for activities more than 60 miles (52 nautical miles) of a safe haven (a protected body of water used by marine craft for refuge from storms or heavy seas).

  5. No cover for Flight Accident or Travel Accident Coverage



(approximate, as of April 2019)



So you may be thinking… I’m travelling to one of the countries on an American, Canadian, UK or Australian (etc) governments’ “avoid” list. Now what? Or, I’m engaging in certain activities that exclude me from normal coverage, what can I do to get myself properly insured?

There are a few companies out there that specialize in offering high risk travel insurance depending on where you’re travelling, for what purpose, and what kind of activities you’ll be doing.

For tourism in so-called “high-risk” destinations, there are a couple providers there who offer comprehensive policies that include not only travel insurance but also kidnapping insurance, ransom payment reimbursement insurance, security air evacuations and more. While these policies are certainly more expensive than your average travel insurance, they are not unaffordable either. High-risk travel insurance plans start around $100 for a 2-week trip, and for more comprehensive coverage you can expect to pay around $300.

So what options can I suggest looking into?

First Allied Travel Insurance

These guys specialize in high risk destinations and activities for tourists and workers alike. They offer comprehensive plans that include things like kidnap insurance and crisis response. Note: they are not able to cover American residents.

First Allied are the trusted experts in providing essential travel insurance cover when visiting high risk countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Egypt, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Chad, etc. Our cover provides—

Global Underwriters Travel Insurance

For Americans, one company we’ve used recently is Global Underwriters, as they were able to offer us plans that included special risk insurance products, as well as waive the exclusions normally applied to travel advisory countries. We’ve never had a file a claim with them, so I can’t speak on that, but in terms of their policy, they were able to offer our American clients coverage for trips to Yemen and Afghanistan.

Be sure to check the policy and make sure the exclusions are waived for your destination country / activities when you contact them. Do not use their online forms— email them and ask them to make a policy for you instead.

Global Underwriters offers world-class service with exceptional International Accident & Sickness Medical coverage and Special Risk insurance products for both groups and individuals.

In addition to the comprehensive International Accident & Sickness Medical Insurance plans, Global Underwriters provides many SPECIAL RISK insurance products such as:

Note: this is NOT a sponsored post and none of these companies have paid us to write about them or their policies. We’re writing from our recent experience getting coverage for ourselves and helping our participants for travel programs in places including Afghanistan, North Korea, Pakistan and Yemen, among other locations.