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Caught in Paris protests? New ‘interrupt-for-any-reason’ travel insurance could have helped cover your trip costs

Caught in Paris protests? New ‘interrupt-for-any-reason’ travel insurance could have helped cover your trip costs
Demonstrators clash with riot police at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris last week during a protest against rising oil prices and living costs. (Abdulmonan Eassa / AFP/Getty Images)

If you’re caught in Paris where civil unrest is mounting, you may get help from a relatively new kind of insurance coverage: interrupt for any reason.

Its cousin, cancel-for-any-reason insurance, allows you to bow out of a trip before it starts. “Interrupt for any reason” means you can suspend your trip after it has begun and get back 75% of what you’ve paid.

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But it doesn’t ensure your safety.

For that, you would need non-medical evacuation insurance, but it’s not as clear-cut as you might think. And you would have had to have purchased these policies well before your trip even started.

The clash in Paris between “yellow vests” and authorities over a gas-tax increase left 130 people injured and 412 arrested over the weekend.

With most travel insurance policies, travelers are out of luck when these types of events unfold.

“Civil unrest, riots and acts of war are typically not covered by any type of insurance, including travel insurance, and most policies list events of this nature as common exclusions within trip cancellation coverage,” Jenna Hummer, spokeswoman for Squaremouth travel insurance company, wrote in an email Tuesday.

The important takeaway: Know what your travel insurance does and doesn’t cover.

For example, if you bought a policy that includes nonmedical evacuation and think you’ll be taken out of a dangerous situation whenever you choose, check the terms. Many policies require a U.S. State Department travel alert or warning to be issued before an evacuation can go into effect.

“The exact type of evacuation notice needed to trigger the benefit varies from policy to policy,” Hummer said.

Being scared for your own safety, which may very well be warranted, isn’t cause enough.

This week InsureMyTrip had more than 1,000 customers who were in France or heading there soon, spokeswoman Julie Loffredi wrote in an email Tuesday. “Some were scared, unable to leave their hotel because they were surrounded by protests,” she said.

Protests last weekend temporarily shut down the Arc de Triomphe, which hundreds of thousands of people visit each year, and damaged fashionable Champs Elysées stores were decked out for the holidays. Fires scorched building and vehicles, and protests have spread to other parts of France.

Before the weekend violence, the U.S. Embassy in France on Friday warned visiting Americans about protests planned around the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and other popular tourist areas. The agency recommended keeping a low profile and avoiding areas where gatherings and protests were happening.

President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday suspended the gas tax increase for six months. It was set to go into effect Jan. 1.

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