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Travel insurance

To say Afghanistan can be an unpredictable place is something of an understatement, so travel insurance is essential. However, many insurance companies regard Afghanistan as a conflict zone. Coupled with advice from government travel advisories, this means that not all brokers will issue insurance for a trip to Afghanistan. Discuss this with your broker and check the small print for exclusions on the policy before signing up. Note that insurers may make a distinction between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ war zones, where premiums reflect the level of risk. Cover for land mine injuries are often specifically excluded by some companies. A minimum of US$1 million medical cover and a ‘medivac’ clause covering the costs of being flown to another country for treatment is essential.

Specialist policies are available with some brokers aimed specifically for those working in conflict zones, although they’re not always cheap. AKE Group (in the UK 020 7816 5454, in the USA 678-560 2336; www.akegroup.com), a dedicated security and risk management company has been recommended. In the UK, also try Medicare (020 7816 2033; www.medicare.co.uk) or J&M Insurance (01992 566939; www.jmi.co.uk). In the USA, try New York International Group (212-268 8520; www.nyig.com) or Safe Passage International (303-988 9666; www.spibrokers.com).

In Afghanistan, medical services insist on payment on the spot, so collect all the paperwork you can when being treated for a claim later. Some policies ask you to call them (they’ll usually call you back) so that an assessment of your problem can be made.