If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that unforeseen events are bound to occur at some point or another. That’s life. And the best we can do is prepare ourselves for when these events do happen.
Travel insurance has long given people the same peace of mind that comes with the purchase of virtually any type of insurance, from health insurance to life insurance. Travel insurance protects you from certain unexpected events that can happen before or during your travels. It can cover things like trip cancellation, lost or damaged baggage, medical and emergency costs, and plenty more.
Many people will not travel without travel insurance, but it has never been required in the United States as it is in other countries such as Aruba, Costa Rica and Japan. Interestingly, more and more countries are beginning to require some form of travel insurance for entry, even as the world is beginning to see the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel and despite successful vaccination efforts.
So, what does this mean for travelers like you, and will travel insurance become a new mandatory purchase soon? Let’s take a look.
What Mandatory Travel Insurance Looks Like in Other Countries
Every country has different rules when it comes to travel insurance, so it is important you do research on the place you are visiting to know what to expect.
Thailand, for example, is a popular tourist destination that has allowed entry for visitors with standard passports without the need for a visa, but that has changed recently due to the pandemic. Visitors must now obtain a Certificate of Entry which requires a travel health insurance policy of at least $100,000 to cover inpatient and outpatient COVID-19 treatment. Singapore is another country that is requiring visitors to have travel insurance that covers COVID-19 medical expenses at a minimum of $30,000.
As you can tell, while many countries now require travel insurance that covers medical expenses, the minimum amount needed can vary. Additionally, many countries, like the Bahamas and Costa Rica, also require proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
The Future of Travel Insurance
In light of the pandemic, will travel insurance become mandatory in all countries?
While mandatory travel insurance seems to be a growing trend, it is not yet clear whether it will eventually be required by every country. On one hand, countries that rely on tourist dollars are wary of instituting a travel insurance requirement since it will only add to the costs of travel and will deter some people from visiting their country. On the other hand, many countries are finding that mandatory travel insurance, particularly medical travel insurance, is crucial as medical costs have taken a big toll on healthcare systems around the world due to the pandemic. Countries do not want to pay the medical bills of foreigners, so they are beginning to shift to requiring some form of coverage, but this shift began well before the virus hit.
If you are an avid traveler, you can expect more destinations to require travel insurance, so be prepared and factor the cost of insurance into your trip’s budget. And if you are trying to keep costs down, you can opt for medical travel insurance only, which is what most countries require (as opposed to coverage that includes trip cancellation coverage, trip interruption benefits or the safety of your luggage, which they generally do not care about).
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
In short, yes. Travel insurance is recommended.
Due to the pandemic and the losses the travel industry has faced over the past year, airlines, hotels, and other businesses have typically offered more flexible booking policies to encourage people to travel. As progress is being made with vaccine distributions and people are feeling more comfortable traveling, you will find that a lot of that flexibility is being peeled back and standard policy restrictions, particularly with airfare, are being reinstated.
Despite successful vaccination campaigns, some countries are still experiencing a spike in cases and more virus variants, making travel plans as uncertain as ever. Japan, for example, recently shut their doors to all foreigners due to a new COVID-19 variant that has swept across the country, causing a fourth wave.
Travel insurance will run you anywhere between 5-10% of your trip’s total cost, but keep in mind that prices will vary depending on several factors, like your age, the length of your travel, and the type of coverage you choose. Depending on what your budget allows, you can choose to get some basic coverage for your trip or spend more and have your trip fully protected.
What to Know About COVID-19-Related Travel Insurance
If you have never purchased travel insurance before, you may still be aware of the basics, like trip cancellation, coverage for lost and damaged luggage, and so on.
But what role does travel insurance play when you get COVID-19 abroad or if you need to quarantine at a hotel upon arrival. Does travel insurance cover that?
If you are visiting one of the countries that require you to self-quarantine upon arrival for a number of days, know that most travel insurance providers will not cover hotel expenses unless you test positive for COVID-19, and your plan covers COVID-19-related expenses. If you do get sick and need to be hospitalized or visit the doctor, you need to be sure that the travel insurance plan you choose covers those related expenses.
The thing to keep in mind is that travel insurance plans vary. Some plans focus on only protecting you and offer emergency medical insurance and accidental death coverage. Some plans focus on protecting your stuff and offer lost or stolen luggage coverage, car rental coverage, and hotel or cruise ship protection. And finally, some plans focus on protecting your actual trip and offer trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage, flight delay and cancellation coverage, and supplier bankruptcy protection.
Before traveling, think carefully about what you need and what makes sense for you.
Some will say that having peace of mind when you travel is invaluable. Can you put a price on it?
At the end of the day, it is hard to know what’s going to happen when we travel – especially now. Some people are happy to take on risk and others prefer the security that comes with travel insurance. If you are hungry for travel, like the rest of us, do research first on what kind of travel insurance you will need, and factor that into your trip budget. While it’s not mandatory (yet) in the United States, many countries have begun requiring some form of coverage. Even if they don’t, it still makes sense to play it safe during these uncertain times and find a plan that works for you.
To compare and buy travel health insurance online with medical only coverage, please visit our medical.travelinsurance.com website.
To compare and buy travel insurance online with comprehensive coverage (including trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage), please click here.