By Kelli B. Grant
Tourists who were planning to head to Greece this summer have little recourse for refunds if the violent protests in Athens have made them reconsider their trip — even if they have purchased travel insurance.
Most policies don’t cover civil unrest, which is the category the demonstrations fall into, says Linda Kundell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Travel Insurance Association. If the airports close as in previous strikes, travelers might be covered because they can’t travel there, she says, but that won’t help anyone looking to cancel now. Review your policy and call your insurer to confirm.
Even travelers on “cancel for any reason” policies may be out of luck, says Robert Hunter, the director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. Insurers typically exclude “known risks,” and strikes and demonstrations aren’t uncommon in Greece. (The State Department goes so far as to call them “a regular occurrence” in its travel warnings.) Depending on how the insurer interprets that known risk kicking in matches up with when you bought the policy, you might not be covered, he says. The known risk exclusion also means that if you haven’t already bought insurance, it only makes sense to do so if you think something unconnected to the protests will keep you from going, or cut your vacation short.
Uncovered travelers may be able to salvage some of their vacation fund, but not much. Most hotels booked independently still offer penalty-free cancellation as late as 24 hours in advance of your arrival, but those booked as part of a tour package may charge as much as 90% of the cost for cancelling even 30 days out. Airlines — which often waive fees to change or cancel a flight in the event of a natural disaster or other events that disrupt flights — have thus far kept regular fees and policies in place. On Delta, that’s typically $250 per flight, with changes usually accepted on return flights only.