I’m going on vacation to Paris next week and the riots worry me. I have travel insurance, but I don’t see anything in the fine 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 over £2000, but I am worried about the safety of my family. Via email.
Sam Barker of This is Money responds: Normally, a trip to the City of Light is something you look forward to, and I hope it still is for you.
But Paris has been rocked by a week of riots, and that has understandably worried many tourists.
Unrest Unrest: Paris has been hit by several nights of civil unrest after police shot a teenager, Nahel M
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged the British not to cancel booked trips to the French capital, but that may not be enough to reassure many.
The riots began when French police shot a teenager, named Nahel M, and the riots were directed against the French state and infrastructure, not tourists.
But the riots have affected local transportation in Paris, and a general sense of unease may lead travelers with booked trips to wonder if they can cancel and still get their money back.
A lot depends on whether they have travel insurance or not.
no travel insurance
If a traveler does not have insurance, if they cancel they are at the mercy of whatever contract they have with their hotel, travel agent or transportation provider.
Many will offer flexible bookings, allowing cancellations and refunds up to a day or two before travel.
If they have such a reservation, you can cancel it for any reason you want, including riots.
With travel insurance
If they don’t, then your next step is travel insurance, which you had the foresight to buy.
Most conventional travel insurance policies have some form of coverage for canceled trips.
However, these offers will only pay for specific reasons.
Riots and civil unrest are normally not on that list of reasons, and neither is outright warfare.
There is only one way that a standard travel insurance deal will pay for any type of civil unrest.
That is if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, part of the UK government, advises against traveling to the destination where the civil unrest is located.
Paris in flames: rioters have set several fires during nights of disorder in the French capital
If the FCDO does not issue this notice, nothing you cancel can be claimed on your travel insurance.
Currently, the FCDO has not discouraged travel, which means that if you cancel a trip now, your travel insurance won’t pay for the cost of things like flights and accommodation.
The FCDO currently says: ‘There may be disruptions to road travel and the provision of local transport may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews. The locations and timing of the riots are unpredictable.
“You should monitor the media, avoid areas where riots are taking place, check with operators for the latest advice when traveling and follow the advice of authorities.”
Health Secretary Steven Barclay has urged travelers with trips to France booked to continue to check the FCDO website for updates on the Paris riots.
Speaking to Sky News, Barclay said: ‘It’s something the FCDO will be monitoring very closely.
‘They keep regular updates on their website.
“And what I would say to anyone concerned about that who is thinking of traveling to France, to keep an eye on the Foreign Office website, there will be regular updates there, and that will keep people informed.”
There are specialized travel insurance offerings that specifically cover civil unrest, such as High Risk Voyager coverage from broker Voyager Insurance Services.
However, this type of insurance is designed and priced for people going to areas of severe riots, and it is unlikely that you would have purchased this type of coverage for a trip to Paris.
There is also a form of travel insurance called “cancellation for any reason” travel insurance. As the name suggests, consumers can reclaim these if they cancel for any reason, including riots.
However, this type of agreement is rare, and even then it only pays up to 75 percent of the non-refundable prepaid costs, depending on the policy.
As it stands, the best advice for most travelers is to get decent standard travel insurance and keep checking the FCDO website for updates on the riots.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them, we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.