Most insurance companies generally ask for an extensive travel questionnaire and underwriting decisions are made based on preferred or standards rates. Some companies will have exclusions for deaths occurred in certain countries and the insured needs to sign off on an amendment form. Some insurance applications may even be declined due to an insureds’ history of high risk travel. Many factors will influence the insurance company’s decision including occupation, frequency and duration of travel, purpose of travel and travel warnings’ advisory posted by the government as well as citizenship.
Here is a list of some of the most dangerous countries to travel to:
The third largest country in Africa divided by the Nile River. The nation has been through civil wars on and off for the past 40 years. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advise against unnecessary travels to Sudan as the country is politically unstable with volatile security due to high levels of violent crime and armed conflict. Kidnappings, armed robberies, home invasions, carjackings, landmines and unmarked minefields are some of the common threats found in danger zones such as Dafur. Staying hydrated is essential in the heat of Sudan but accessibility to a clean water supply has been a major problem in many places of the country. Sudan is also known for its high mortality rate related to malaria, an infectious disease contracted from mosquito bites.
A relatively small country located in Central America with an exceptionally high murder rate. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, Honduras is ranked number one for the Highest Intentional Homicide Rate of 75.6 murders per 100,000 people in 2013 due to the scarcity of police presence and limited government resources. Police lack vehicles or fuels to respond promptly or even respond at all. Foreign journalists are primary targets for drug-dealing gangs, criminal groups and corrupt members of the government against negative press. Tourists in group tours are associated with fewer incidents involving armed robberies and carjacking. Despite the Government of Honduras’ attempts to increase security in popular tourist areas, visitors are still advised to exercise caution and stay vigilant to surroundings at all times, refrain from isolated areas and only book with reputable tour groups.
A landlocked country named after the Niger River is the largest country in West Africa covered by the Sahara desert. The Government of Canada strongly advises against any visits to this country, as it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Massive flooding, malaria rampant, food crises are just the tip of the iceberg. Heavily armed rebels and militants roam the streets and crimes such as kidnapping, mugging and stabbings are common everyday occurrences. Landmines cover the bordered areas and visitors are recommended to stay on main roads. Westerners are of particular danger to the country as it is a host to the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a group responsible to overthrow governments, kidnappings and terrorist attacks.
4. Central African Republic
After the previous government has been overthrown, the country remains unstable and lawless. Rebels and rogue troops are known for remorseless tactics such as burning villages, setting up fake roadblocks and banditry, particularly along the rural outskirts of the capital and “the chances of returning back home safe and unharmed is slim to none”. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Central African Republic has no international presence and the security situation continues to deteriorate. Food and water may carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid and vaccines and proper medication must be taken prior to travelling. Insects carry and spread deadly diseases, measures such as using insect repellent, covering up and staying in enclosed accommodations should be taken.
The landlocked country in Central Asia and South Asia has been the hot topic of discussion in the media for the past decade. Remnants of the Taliban and other terrorist groups including Al Qaeda still operate as suicide bombings, hostage takings, terrorist attacks remain frequent, especially in the country’s capital. Unlike other countries, terrorism and criminal violence do not discriminate. Travelers of any race, religion or nationality can be targeted and captured. Targets include hotels, embassies, government buildings and any locations that are known to occupy Westerners. Landmines scattered throughout the countryside are a major threat and no area is safe. Road travel outside of Kabul is extremely unsafe and restricted by the Afgan government. Basic accommodations and infrastructure services are minimal and food and water shortages are prevalent.
The subject of breaking news in recent years is a country that is located in Western Asia with the largest ethnic group of Arabs. Minefields lie along the border and surrounding military bases, visitors are advised to stay at hard-packed areas. Car bombings, vehicle ambushes, mortar and rocket attacks are periodic incidents and considered cyclical in nature. Security arrangements should not be handled lightly, along with assessing the risk of traveling, keeping updated on local developments and registering with the Embassy of Canada as precaution measures. Threats to foreigners are very high, including Canadians as they are the primary target for terrorist groups. Crime and corruption are common, especially at night and visitors are recommended to remain indoors. Road travel is not safe as motorists disobey traffic laws and carjacking attacks are additions to the risks.
Currently holds the title for the most dangerous country in the world to visit, “where you can get kidnapped or shot in the head faster than you can wipe the sweat off your brow” as reported by American journalist and East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman. The country is flooded with warlords, pirates, kidnappers, bomb makers, terrorists and factions. International military response is inadequate and acts of piracy have only increased. Local hospitals lack resources and staff to treat injuries. Aside from the political crisis, flies and mosquitoes are common carriers of deadly diseases, and it is critical to take all medicines and immunization before arriving in the country. War, displacement, drought, skyrocketing food prices make it an uninhabitable place to live.
If you believe you could be at risk for a declined policy or accepted with travel exclusions, talk to your broker to find out more about other options. There are currently a few Canadian life insurance carriers that offer traditional plans and have decided to omit certain travel questions or are relatively lax on their application and their underwriting process. If you have been decline due to travel history, a Simplified Issue policy may be your best option; as they do not ask travel related questions.
Before visiting these countries, proper research must be done to ensure all precautions are taken to avoid danger to your personal safety and health. Entry and exit requirements for many countries are the sole prerogative of each country and region and requirements vary. The Government of Canada is able to provide credible travel advice, safe transportation in the event of a crisis, and assistance leaving the country as a last resort. With that said, the primary responsibility for personal safety falls under the traveller and there are constraints on government resources, especially in regions with high potential for violence.