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You might have to leave home without it. Your life insurance, that is, if you travel routinely to Israel or other violence-prone locations.

If you want to buy life insurance or increase what you have, you might find it difficult to obtain if you regularly do business or spend time in Israel or two dozen other countries for which the U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings. Most are in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.


Just how pervasive this problem can be in a terror-ridden world was brought to light earlier this month when a Los Angeles radio producer filed a lawsuit against an insurer who turned him down for coverage two years ago when he visited Israel. The suit claimed unfair business practices under California law.

The insurance industry contends it has no obligation to insure people who take what it deems to be unnecessary risks, whether traveling to countries wracked by terrorism or undertaking recreational sports such as skydiving.

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Almost all insurers ask if you routinely travel abroad for more than six weeks a year, says David Archambault, of Showley, Archambault & Alexander, an independent brokerage in San Diego. "And rightly so."

When one client who liked adventure-oriented travel decided to spend two weeks in Mongolia, Archambault had to help prove to her insurance company that Mongolia, not on the State Department list, was safe enough to keep her coverage.

Byron Udell, CEO of Wheeling, Ill.-based AccuQuote (, says he has one client who travels to Israel for business several times a year and wants to add millions of dollars in life insurance coverage, but can't get it. Udell says the insurers have no obligation to insure him: "It's not a right. It's a privilege."

He says that some companies might be putting together coverage with a rider that excludes coverage should the insured die in Israel.

Archambault says different companies ask different questions about travel. For example, one company asks if you have traveled or resided overseas for six consecutive weeks in a year in the past five years. So if you do five weeks, you're OK. Others ask if you plan to travel abroad.

But when asked, "You absolutely can not lie," he says. That could invalidate your policy.

It does pay to shop around, given there are some 1,200 U.S. life insurance companies. By the way, the radio producer who filed the lawsuit, Allen Estrin, recently got a policy through West Coast Life.