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hong kong travel insurance
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Since June of 2019, protests have been erupting in Hong Kong. At times, the protests occur at locations that are sanctioned and are peaceful. Other times, eruptions have broken out that are violent and are not in sanctioned areas. The protests in the past three months were located in the downtown area of the city, mostly near government offices and shopping areas.

Protesters have begun since the 10th of August to target the Hong Kong International Airport, one of the largest hubs of transportation in the world. On Monday August 12th, the protesters succeeded in forcing the airport authority to cancel, reschedule or reroute over 150 flights.

On Tuesday August 13th, protesters focused on the departures and were not disturbing incoming flights. They blocked the terminals, which kept travelers from making their way to their flights. In some cases, travelers and protesters were arguing and having physical altercations. A plainclothes police officer was captured by the crowd at one point, detained, and his police business card shown to the crowd. Pepper spray was used on the crowd, and some protesters were arrested. Finally, an announcement was made by the airport that they were cancelling all departing flights, and the airport asked travelers to leave the terminals.

Why is this Occurring?

A very unpopular law was proposed that would have allowed mainland China to receive extradited prisoners from Hong Kong. This law is unpopular with protesters because they fear that it is a means of stifling political dissent in Hong Kong.

What Types of Dangers Do Travelers Face From the Protests?

In the protest on Tuesday, travelers at times got caught up in pepper spray and clashes with the protesters. Social media posts show protesters used luggage carts to barricade the departure terminals at the airport. There were also videos of people engaged in shouting matches, travelers running away from the protesters and even physical altercations between travelers and the protesters.

The U.S. State Department warns that travelers should exercise heightened awareness in Hong Kong and realize that transportation services and portions of the city can be shut down at any time due to the protests. They advise travelers to exercise heightened caution and keep a very low profile.

It is clear from the protests of the past two days that passengers may be forced to extend their visit in Hong Kong or take a train to Guangzhou and then fly home from that city’s airport. Otherwise, one might be able to fly out of Shenzhen, which is just outside of Hong Kong.

Will Travel Insurance Cover Me in the Face of the Hong Kong Protests?

Most travel insurance does not cover acts of civil unrest. Travelers can, though, purchase plans that include benefits, such as non-medical evacuation coverage. Non-medical evacuation coverage will provide secure transport to an airport and an evacuation flight, but the coverage only works in the event of a U.S. State Department evacuation order due to protests or other security issues. Recently, a charity group in Haiti was able to evacuate from the beleaguered country when protests made it unsafe to stay. By having the non-medical evacuation coverage, the charity group was able to save tens of thousands of dollars and get their eight volunteers safely home.

Another type of add-on coverage that would help travelers in the event of civil unrest is Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage. That allows travelers to cancel their reservations prior to their departure time, if they felt unsafe. Also, another coverage that would apply to the Hong Kong protests is if you buy Interruption for Any Reason (IFAR) coverage. IFAR coverage applies if you feel afraid for your safety, for example, and decide to leave early. Then, you are covered any fees that you would have otherwise lost by leaving early.

What is the Best Advice if I am Traveling to Hong Kong?

There are reports that some airlines are still running, despite dangers. In this event, the airlines will not reimburse you in the event you felt too afraid to go on your trip. In that case, the CFAR coverage is a means of averting the loss of your fees. When the flights are actually shut down and canceled by the airport authority, you will generally be reimbursed even if you don’t carry the travel insurance.

Non-medical evacuation coverage is best for situations in countries where the violence and rioting is so extreme that you fear you will not be able to safely leave and get back home, such as the aforementioned situation in Haiti. It will only apply when the State Department issues an order for all non-emergency U.S. citizens to leave the country. Non-medical evacuation coverage also kicks in when there are natural disasters or other security events that trigger a State Department evacuation order.

At this time, the CFAR and IFAR coverage seem a safe bet in order to allow you to avoid being charged from a trip when you don’t feel safe to go or when you feel the need to get home.

These add-ons to your travel insurance are not necessary for every travel destination on your itinerary, but there are situations around the world at this time – like in Hong Kong, Haiti and even France – where such coverage is a good idea that could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars and may even save your life.

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