The 15 Most Dangerous Places to Travel

By Megg Mueller on May 10th, 2010
Life Insurance

Traveling abroad is a favorite activity for many Americans, and while destinations such as Lebanon, Iraq and Iran might not be tops on many tourists' lists, they are, nonetheless, in some travel plans. These trips might be for business or education rather than pleasure, but visiting these and certain other countries could put your application for life insurance in jeopardy.

Travel Plans Are Part of Your Life Insurance Application

Life insurance companies often require applicants to state past and future travel plans, and, if your plans include travel to places deemed "dangerous" by the U.S. State Department, your application could be denied, even if you never actually visit that country.

This issue came to the forefront of the news when U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida applied for a life insurance policy in 2005. Wasserman Schultz, as part of her application, noted she may someday travel to Israel, and, based on that fact, an insurance company denied her request for life insurance. The insurance company told her it would rethink its decision after she returned from Israel, although she had no set plans to go to that country. She would also have to state she had no intention of subsequent travel to Israel.

The insurance company's denial spurred the Life Insurance Fairness for Travelers Act, which was introduced to Congress in July of 2007. The bill would make denials based on future or past travels by insurance companies unlawful. According to www.govtrack.us, the bill was referred to the Congressional Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs but never became law and has not been reintroduced.

Dangerous Countries

If your policy is in effect before you travel, your death would be covered as long as your application was filled out truthfully, i.e., future travel plans were revealed honestly.

The U.S. State Department regularly updates its list of countries for which it issues travel warnings, and anyone considering travel outside the United States should check the list, as it changes often. The warnings can be found at the State Department's Web site.

Here are 15 of the most dangerous places to visit, according to that list:

  • Iran: Parts of the country remain hostile toward Americans, who often face harassment and/or arrest. The U.S. does not have diplomatic or consular relations with Iran and cannot provide protection to U.S. citizens
  • Afghanistan: Very critical security threats to Americans are frequent and widespread, and no part of the country is deemed safe for travel. Carjackings, robberies, and violent crimes are a problem
  • Kenya: Continuing threats of terrorism against Americans, plus a high rate of violent fatal criminal attacks, can happen at any time throughout the country. Terrorist acts could include suicide operations, bombings, and kidnappings
  • Eritrea: The national government restricts travel outside the capital city of Amara due to increased border tensions and a rising number of American arrests without justification
  • Central African Republic: Rebel groups, poachers, and bandits all pose a major violent threat, and the government is unable to guarantee visitor safety
  • Yemen: Non-essential travel should be deferred. The high volume of terrorist threats and activities specifically aimed at Americans is a serious security threat
  • Iraq: Violence and threats against Americans continue, and the country's insurgent groups still pose a problem for peacekeepers
  • Pakistan: The presence of Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and other militant sects continue to pose a real threat to American citizens. Fighting between military forces and extremists has become violent, and Americans have been victims of terrorist attacks
  • Sudan: Visitors are at risk of increasing country-wide violence between government forces and armed militias. Plus, westerners could be the target of violence, kidnapping, and harassment
  • Somalia: Many incidents of civil unrest and violence, including murder and kidnapping, exist. The United States does not have an embassy there or any other U.S. diplomatic presence
  • Mauritania: Increased activities by the terrorist group Al Qaeda are present in the Islamic Maghreb. Some of its citizens have declared an intention to attack westerners and Western targets
  • Lebanon: Avoid all travel, as potential for spontaneous violence in the region is consistently an issue. Americans have been targeted for terrorist attacks
  • Guinea: The U.S. Embassy remains closed, although Consular services are available. The threat of violence is still high, and the country's internal situation is very volatile
  • Colombia: A recent rise in violent crimes, including murder, plus the presence of narco-terrorists continues in much of the country. Americans have been the targets of violent crimes such as murder and kidnapping
  • Nigeria: Parts of the country are still heavy with violent crime, especially in large cities and on the road, and conflicts between ethnic, religious, and militant groups can escalate into violence, although not necessarily directed at Americans.

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