Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Terrorist Exclusion Clause

While the Christmas season draws nearer, I refer not to "The Santa Clause" where I would accidentally become Santa Claus (but only if I am Tim Allen and acting in a movie) but the bane of travellers everywhere: "the 'terrorist exclusion' clause".

As you know we are planning to go to Israel, Egypt and Jordan in the next few weeks for a month. Of some concern to me was, should we board a bus and it gets whacked by a suicide bomber, whether C and I would have medical coverage. You see most insurance policies these days have a little known clause all stuck there in the fine printy stuff excluding any coverage for events related to terrorism. Be it all known and seen that should Al Qaeda decide to fly a jet into your neighbourhood as George W. frequently warns, the insurance industry won't be paying anytime to rebuild your humble townhouse.

That too goes for travel.

At work our skinflint, tightfisted private insurer snuck a tiny little exclusionary clause in our travel health insurance denying coverage for medical expenses arising from "acts of war declared or undeclared".

Thus I had to undertake the rather grisly task of actually calling the insurer and presenting them with scenarios:

i) What if a suicide bomber blows himself up next to me?

Answer: Well it depends...

ii) What if Hamas starts lobbing missiles from somewhere at me?

Answer: War declared or not is not covered.

Followup Question: Well is Hamas lobbing missiles an "act of war, declared or undeclared" or a "terrorist act"? It kind of depends on who you ask?

Answer: Well it would depend.

Followup to followup question: What if Israel lobs a missile back and it falls short and I get injured?

Answer: Well it would depend.

Thus the only answer I could get straight out of them, is that I am shit out of luck if combat is declared; if it is two states and they don't declare war but go to it I am screwed; and finally "it depends" should I be the victim of some Hamas missile lob or suicide bomber.

This technical uncertainty reminded me of the old United States Supreme Court statement on what pornography was, the answer "Well we know it when we see it". Not very comforting.

The insurance representative who had gone to the top of the chain to get answers to my macabre questions kept infering, in 'nudge nudge wink wink asides', that whether we would be covered or not, was based on whether they attributed some kind of "blame" to us for getting tiny bits of shrapnel shmushed into our chests. Thus it was reiterated that we should, "not go to any demonstrations" or participate in "any riots", this leaving me puzzled, as even in Canada, I, a lapsed activist who lives an hour outside of Toronto, has failed to "go to any demonstrations" in years and has never participated in "any riots" even when it looked like good fun.

This left me to wonder: There are "medical tourists" and "sex tourists" but are there some kind of weirdo group of "riot or demonstration" tourists who fly to other countries simply in the hopes of getting a really big "lathi" bashing? (NOTE: a "lathi" is that nasty bamboo stick policemen in a number of South Asian states use to attack demonstrators...)

As an end note, I finally found a travel insurance company who will, in fact, cover us in the event of terrorist acts. However in a strange limitation, your coverage is limited to "two terrorist acts per calendar year".

That led me to imagine a clumsy Inspector Clouseau type accidentally bumbling from the scene of one terrorist act to another: "Ooops the bus blew up! I think I'll take refuge in this shopping market...oh god is that a plane headed my way?!"

But I don't have too much love for my new travel insurance company. In a secret, finely printed hidden, sub-sub-terrorism exclusion clause, it is revealed that while you are covered for two garden variety suicide bombings a year, you are SOL if the terrorists let loose with a dirty bomb or anthrax.

Now I have to find some Cipro. I wonder if my insurer covers it? It probably "depends"...