Buying Travel Insurance For Travel To Restricted Nations

DOT14_1Buying travel insurance for a trip who’s primary destination is a restricted nation can be difficult.  Certain countries are subject to sanctions by the U.S. Government thru the Office of Foreign Assets control. These sanctions make it difficult for an insurance company to insure travelers visiting such countries and in some cases not even possible. The legal issues are daunting and many insurers simply are unwilling to or unable to provide coverage.

The list of restricted countries varies by travel insurance company.  Some will insure to a broader range of countries on the OFAC list.

American Modern restricts purchase for: Afghanistan, Algeria, Myanmar, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Guinea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Nationwide restricts purchase for: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia-herzegovina, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Montenegro, North Korea, Palestinian Authority, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Old Republic restricts purchase for: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Liberia, Macedonia, Myanmar, North Korea, Palestinian Authority, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Arch and US Fire restrict purchase for: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Palestinian Authority, Sudan, Syria.

What is the US OFAC and what does it do?

The United States Office of Foreign Assets Control administers and enforces economic sanctions programs primarily against countries and groups of individuals, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers. The sanctions can be either comprehensive or selective, using the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals.

Basically the US government has levied some level of economic sanctions against the country, and prohibits US citizens from doing business with them.  This includes restricting travel to many of these countries.  It’s not prudent for any company to ignore the OFAC regulations.  The fines for violations can be substantial. Depending on the program, criminal penalties can include fines ranging from $50,000 to $10,000,000 and imprisonment ranging from 10 to 30 years for willful violations. Depending on the program, civil penalties range from $250,000 or twice the amount of each underlying transaction to $1,075,000 for each violation.

Does this mean you could go to jail for visiting one of these restricted countries? Probably not, in most cases, but you should consult with an attorney before traveling to a sanctioned country to be sure. What is clear though, is that our insurance partners will not make payments to a medical facility, travel supplier, or emergency evacuation supplier that is located in an OFAC restricted country.  Some of our partners may reimburse a traveler who has already made payments in an OFAC restricted country.

We set up a warning if you select one of the OFAC restricted nations as a primary destination during enrollment that lets you know if we can’t sell you the insurance plan you have selected for that trip.  This saves people the trouble of filling out the entire form, entering a credit card, and then having the transaction be rejected.