TRAVEL ADVISORY: Personal insurance for travel to conflict and post conflict areas

Personal insurance is a hot topic at the moment and journalists regularly ask questions about providers, costs and options for cover.

With this in mind, INSI has asked a range of insurance companies to provide sample quotes, so journalists have a clearer idea of what is available.

Insurance goes hand in hand with a thorough risk assessment process, which must take place as soon as you begin to plan your assignment. Good planning and preparation will hopefully prevent emergencies in the first instance and are key to not having to use your insurance. (See INSI's planning and preparation advisory for further information).

INSI approached several insurance companies in April and May 2013, as advertised on the Rory Peck Trust website and CPJ's online 'Journalist Security Guide'. We asked for quotes for a two week assignment to three conflict/post conflict areas, Syria, Mali and Iraq.

This advisory provides general information on personal insurance (not including equipment) based on each company's quotes. It is important to note that costs may vary when each company is contacted individually. Changing political situations as well as changes to local environments may cause the prices to fluctuate. Your personal circumstances may also affect the costs i.e. depending on your age or the level of insurance required.

INSI stresses that the information provided in these tables should only be used as guidance, and each company much be approached individually for accurate and up to date quotes.

The level of cover for each company will vary and you will need to decide what levels are appropriate to your personal situation. For example, if you have a mortgage and dependents you may decide your level of cover should be higher than someone who is single and lives with their parents.

INSI has divided the sample cover quotes into four main sections to help you compare costs. The four main sections are as follows:

• Medical assistance in the event of injury and repatriation in the case of death

• Compensation in the event of injury/disability or death

• In case of disability, where the journalist can not work will they pay a salary?

• Pay out in the case of death

The key to getting the right insurance is to ensure that the plan works for you, your personal circumstances and the situation in which you may find yourself. A risk assessment will assist you in making this decision. Ensure that your policy (and any other policies you have) covers you for war and terrorism risks, even if you are not travelling to a war zone, as terrorism could happen anywhere.

You may wish to consider whether you need certain kinds of insurance. For example, if there is no infrastructure to support an incident, you may decide to start your insurance at the point when assistance can be given to you. For example, In Syria it is unlikely that you will find a medical evacuation company which will go into the country to get you out. In this case you may wish to consider having your medical insurance policy starting in Turkey, which will be a much cheaper and more sensible option (you must however consult the latest advice available for this).

Insurance varies according to the level of cover you require but costs are broadly as follows for a two week assignment for a freelance journalist. Click here for a more detailed summary of the findings.

Each company has differing levels of cover and you will need to check each one separately to ensure the policy is what you require. Remember that any freelancers can claim this cost against their tax bill.

Sryia - £102.82 - £700

Mali - £90.32 - £500

Iraq - £ 78.32 - £500

Insurances for equipment will have to be considered outside of this advisory.

Note: This advisory is based on general guidelines for choosing insurance. The views here are those of the author and are personal reflections and advice. They are meant to assist the international traveller and are not meant to be negative in nature. INSI takes no responsibility for any decisions made on the basis of this advisory.

INSI reiterates that the information provided in these tables are merely guidelines, and that each company much be approached individually for accurate and up to date quotes. The research was carried out in April and May 2013, so prices are likely to fluctuate depending on the changing security situations in each country. INSI would like to thank the insurers they contacted for their help in this research.

Photo: A citizen journalist image shot through a broken car window shows smoke billowing from a building after fighting between rebels and Syrian troops in the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees in south Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo, File)