Insurance. TRAVEL ADVISORY; Travel Plans Affect Life Insurance Policies - The New York Times

Travelers planning trips to risky areas may find it more difficult to get a new life insurance policy. Some underwriters will not issue new policies to people planning to visit countries for which the State Department has issued a travel warning, recommending that Americans defer nonessential travel there. This situation was reported in Business Week this month. New life insurance policy.

As of Dec. 10, there were 27 countries on that list, including Israel, Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey and Nepal. Rebecca Hirsch, a spokeswoman for Allstate, said applications for new life insurance policies typically asked if the applicant has plans to travel outside of the United States in the next two years, and, if so, where.

''If you write, 'I am planning to travel to Kenya,' you would not get a policy if it's on the travel warning list,'' Ms. Hirsch said, emphasizing that current policyholders would still be covered if they did not plan to visit a country on the State Department list when they took out their life insurance policy. ''As long as you answered truthfully on the application, it's not a problem.''

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The question, Ms. Hirsch said, is meant to prevent someone from buying a policy ''just prior to engaging in a risky activity,'' in the same way that the company stops writing new homeowner's policies for areas where a hurricane has been forecast to land.

Marlon Nettleton, director of life claims for State Farm, said his company also used the State Department travel warning list when considering applicants for policies.

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One option for travelers to risky areas is to buy travel insurance that covers accidental death. But Jim Grace, president of, said those policies typically had limited coverage for accidental death -- $10,000 to $50,000. Also, there are often exclusions for war or terrorism; travelers should read the fine print carefully before buying a policy. SUSAN STELLIN

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