‘I’m going to Paris – do I need travel insurance against riots?’

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‘I’m going to Paris – do I need travel insurance against riots?’

I am taking a family holiday to Paris next week and the rioting has me concerned. I have travel insurance, but I cannot see anything in the small prin

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I am taking a family holiday to Paris next week and the rioting has me concerned. I have travel insurance, but I cannot see anything in the small print about riots.

Can I cancel and still get my money back? Or would I lose my money? 

Paris is expensive and this trip costs more than £2,000, but I worry about my family’s safety. Via email.

Sam Barker of This is Money replies: A trip to the City of Light is normally something to look forward to – and hopefully for you it still is.

But Paris has been rocked by a week of rioting – and that understandably has many holidaymakers worried.

Riot disquiet: Paris has been gripped by several nights of civil disorder after police shot a teenager, Nahel M

Riot disquiet: Paris has been gripped by several nights of civil disorder after police shot a teenager, Nahel M

Riot disquiet: Paris has been gripped by several nights of civil disorder after police shot a teenager, Nahel M

French president Emmanuel Macron has urged Britons not to cancel trips booked to the French capital – but that may not be enough to reassure many.

The riots started when French police shot a teenager, named as Nahel M, and unrest has been targeted against the French state and infrastructure, not tourists.

But the riots have affected local transport in Paris, and a general sense of unease may lead travellers with trips booked to wonder if they can cancel and still get their money back.

Much depends on if they have travel insurance or not.

No travel insurance 

If a traveller has no insurance then if they cancel they are at the mercy of whatever contract they have with your hotel, travel agent or transport provider.

Many will offer flexible booking, allowing cancellations and refunds up until one or two days before the trip.

If they have such a booking then you can cancel for any reason you like, including riots.

With travel insurance 

If they do not, then their next step is travel insurance, which you had the foresight to buy.

Most mainstream travel insurance policies have some sort of cover for cancelled trips.

However, these deals will only pay out for specific reasons.

Riots and civil unrest are not normally on that list of reasons – nor is outright war.

There is only one way a standard travel insurance deal will pay out for any sort of civil unrest.

That is if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, part of the UK Government, advises against travel to the destination where the civil unrest is.

Paris in flames: Rioters have set several fires during evenings of disorder in the French capital

Paris in flames: Rioters have set several fires during evenings of disorder in the French capital

Paris in flames: Rioters have set several fires during evenings of disorder in the French capital

If the FCDO does not issue this advice then anything you cancel cannot be claimed against on your travel insurance.

Currently the FCDO has not advised against travel, meaning if you cancel a trip now your travel insurance will not pay out for the cost of things such as flights and accommodation.

The FCDO currently says: ‘There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews. Locations and timing of riots are unpredictable. 

‘You should monitor the media, avoid areas where riots are taking place, check the latest advice with operators when travelling and follow the advice of the authorities.’

Health secretary Steven Barclay has urged travellers with trips to France booked to keep checking the FCDO website for updates on the Paris riots.

Speaking to Sky News, Barclay said: ‘It’s something that the FCDO will be monitoring very closely.

‘They keep regular updates on their website. 

‘And what I would say to anyone concerned about it who is thinking of travelling to France, to keep an eye on the Foreign Office website, there will be regular updates there, and that will keep people informed.’

Specialist cover 

There are specialist travel insurance deals that specifically cover civil unrest, such as High Risk Voyager cover from broker Voyager Insurance Services.

However, this sort of insurance is designed and priced for people going to areas of severe unrest, and you are unlikely to have bought this sort of cover for a trip to Paris.

There is also a form of travel insurance called ‘cancel for any reason’ travel insurance. As the name suggests, consumers can claim on these if they cancel for anything at all, including riots.

However, this type of deal is uncommon, and even then only pays out up to 75 per cent of nonrefundable, prepaid costs, depending on the policy.

As it stands, the best advice for most travellers is to get decent standard travel insurance and to keep checking the FCDO website for updates on the riots.

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