Las Vegas Shooting Raises Travel Insurance Questions

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Las Vegas Shooting Raises Travel Insurance Questions

Photo: Shutterstock.com


Travelers and travel agents scrambled to rebook Las Vegas plans following the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival this month, and one of the questions being raised is whether travel insurance covers refunds or other related costs.

The answer for most travelers is “No.”

This week, law enforcement officials are still struggling to determine a motive for the shootings but have discounted a claim by ISIS that the perpetrator was a terrorist. As a result, most travel insurance policies will not cover refunds or other payouts for travelers impacted during the shooting and its aftermath, or those concerned about rescheduling an upcoming Las Vegas trip.

“The big difference between this event and previous events like Barcelona (where ISIS agents used vehicles to kill and injure people in popular Spanish tourist venues), is that Las Vegas has not been determined to be terrorism as we define it – a person or group of people trying to do harm for a political or religious agenda,” said Daniel Durazo, director, communications, USA, for Allianz Global Assistance.

“It’s not a situation to cancel a trip under most of our policies,” said Durazo.

Like most travel insurance companies, Allianz uses official guidance from government agencies, like the State Department for events outside the U.S., and “typically the FBI” for domestic events, Durazo said. (The Clark County Sheriff’s department currently is the lead investigating agency in the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting.)

If a traveler chose to leave Las Vegas early during the shooting’s aftermath, they also would not be covered.

"Cancel Anytime" policies are more comprehensive
The one travel insurance policy that covers all travelers and all events typically has a name like “Cancel Anytime” (the brand Allianz uses for this type of all-inclusive coverage). Usually, these types of policies allow travelers to receive a partial refund if they choose to cancel their trip up to two or three days before they depart.

In the event of the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival, flights in and out of McCarran International Airport were suspended briefly the night of the shooting as concert goers were allowed to escape onto the airfield next door from the concert grounds. Additionally, there was concern aircraft could be targeted.

Some Las Vegas travelers may have been covered
“Since McCarran Airport temporarily suspended activity after the Las Vegas shooting, travelers with delayed flights could be refunded for food and hotel expenses incurred during the delay as well as the cost to catch up to their destination,” online travel insurance aggregator Squaremouth said.

Squaremouth's Las Vegas Shooting Travel Insurance Information Center online explains travel insurance coverage with up-to-date information for travelers whose trips are affected, including answers to FAQs and statements from providers.

Also, if a traveler's flight was rerouted, “they may be able to claim back the additional money they spent to get to their destination, as well as money spent on food and hotels during the delay,” Squaremouth said.

If a traveler’s flight to Las Vegas was cancelled, they would be reimbursed by the airline. If it wasn't, "unfortunately travel insurance won't cover expenses because the Las Vegas shooting was not considered an act of terrorism by the U.S. Department of State,” said Squaremouth, which added that a similar rule would apply to accommodations at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, where the shooter perpetrated the crime.

Event Ticket Protector provides assistance
Finally, Allianz sells a product called “Event Ticket Protector,” in the event that someone is hurt or injured prior to an event and cannot attend. Allianz had 3,000 customers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, Durazo said, and the company reached out to all of them the Monday directly after the incident.

“Unfortunately, it saddened and angered us to find out that seven of our clients were killed and one was severely injured,” Durazo said. Allianz assisted some of its clients with emergency travel arrangements to leave Las Vegas as a result of the chaos.

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