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Traveling during a global pandemic comes with several distinct and unavoidable challenges. If you must travel to a location that enforces a mandatory quarantine, it could prolong your trip or cause you to incur medical costs while away from home. In some areas of the world, you must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within a few days of arriving. If you test positive for COVID-19, you may have to cut your trip short, extend your trip to meet the quarantine requirements, or book a stay in a hotel where you can quarantine away from others at your own expense.
Understanding Your Travel Insurance Benefits
Each travel insurance policy has benefits that cover certain unexpected expenses related to your trip. Before any of those benefits will cover a COVID-19 quarantine, you must test positive for the virus and have a travel insurance plan that covers expenses related to COVID-19. Your travel insurance generally won’t cover a mandatory quarantine issued by your destination state or country in the absence of a positive test. If you plan to visit an area where there is a mandatory COVID-19 quarantine, you will have to plan to cover those additional costs on your own. If you test positive for COVID-19 while you are traveling, your travel plan’s medical benefits will apply only if they specifically cover COVID-19 costs. Most travel insurers are now treating COVID-19 like any other unforeseen sickness, but it is important to read the “COVID-19 FAQs” information next to each plan that you find on TravelInsurance.com, in order to understand the coverage related to this pandemic.
Mandatory COVID-19 Testing When Re-Entering the United States
As of the publication of this article, the United States government requires all travelers to receive a negative COVID-19 test within three days of entering the country, even if they are U.S. citizens. Testing positive for COVID-19 just days before you are scheduled to return home means you will have to make plans to stay abroad until you get a negative test result.
If your travel insurance includes coverage for COVID-19, you can typically stay in your destination country for up to seven days past your original return date. Your travel insurance benefits can cover your meals and accommodations during quarantine in this case. A typical travel insurance plan with COVID-19 coverage provides between $50 and $300 per day for meals and accommodations.
Travel Insurance Coverage for COVID-19 Expenses
Even if you are currently healthy and take precautions to prevent contracting COVID-19, it is important to choose travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage. Travel insurance can cover your quarantine cost, which could reach into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
This travel benefit may cover the cost of your meals and accommodations during a mandatory quarantine if you test positive for COVID-19.
This travel benefit could cover 100% – 150% of your non-refundable and pre-paid trip expenses if you must quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Cancel For Any Reason Coverage
Cancel For Any Reason coverage is a popular and optional upgrade available from many travel insurance carriers. Adding this coverage to your travel insurance policy means you can cancel your trip up to two days before you are scheduled to leave. A spike in COVID-19 cases at home or at your destination could make you decide to cancel your trip, but without Cancel For Any Reason coverage, it is unlikely that travel insurance would cover your trip costs.
How to Shop For COVID-19 Travel Insurance
While reading the fine print on your travel insurance documents doesn’t sound like fun, it is necessary if you want to make sure to get the right coverage for your trip. Insuring your trip during a pandemic can be complicated, and it is important to think ahead. Be sure to buy travel insurance from an actual travel insurance company (such as those found on TravelInsurance.com); not as a simple add-on when you book your airfare, hotel or cruise. Many insurance companies offering travel policies have specific rules about accessing COVID-19 coverage. You can find out exactly which potential expenses are covered by reading the policy’s exclusion and coverages or by clicking on the “COVID-19 FAQs” link next to each plan on TravelInsurance.com.
Pay Attention to Exclusions
Some travel insurance policies have a specific section of exclusions related to COVID-19. While these policies may cost a lot less than policies with more robust coverage, they won’t help you if you become sick due to COVID-19 on your trip.
Make sure you buy a policy that includes a wide array of pandemic-related travel losses. All travel insurance policies specifically exclude claims made based on “fear of travel” which could mean that worries about COVID-19 will not qualify you for coverage if you cancel your trip. For cancelling due to worries or fear of travel, you will want to purchase a plan with an optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade..
A Vacation Waiver from a Travel Booking Site is Not the Same as Travel Insurance
Online travel agencies offering vacation waivers generally do not provide the coverage you need during a global pandemic. Travel insurance is an insurance product subject to state regulation with a broad array of coverage and benefits. With a vacation waiver from a travel booking site, you may only get partial credit or voucher for future travel if booking through them again.
What Happens if You Don’t Have COVID-19 Travel Insurance
Without travel insurance that includes coverage for COVID-19, any costs you incur due to a positive test for the virus will not be covered. You will have to pay for your additional nights in a hotel, medical expenses, meals, and transportation on your own.
These costs may include:
- Hospitalization or specialized care if you or someone you are traveling with becomes very ill with COVID-19 symptoms
- Cancellation penalties or non-refundable prepayments if you have to cancel your trip due to COVID-19
- Extra expenses associated with an unexpected early return or late departure if someone in your party becomes ill with COVID-19
- Medical expenses for treatment or management of COVID-19 symptoms if you are in an area where your health insurance does not provide coverage
While it may be safe to travel to your planned destination when you make the arrangements, it is impossible to predict how the pandemic will affect your airline, cruise line, or the community you plan to visit.
How to Make a Travel Insurance Claim for COVID-19 Expenses
When making any travel insurance claim, you will need to carefully document every expense to prove you incurred the costs related to the claim. If your plan covers costs related to COVID-19, your travel insurance company may request these documents:
- Proof of your positive COVID-19 test
- Proof that you were directly exposed to someone that tested positive for COVID-19
- Receipts verifying any expenses you incurred due to COVID-19
- Documents showing that you were required to quarantine while traveling
- Medical bills for COVID-19 related illness and testing
- Receipts from your hotel or rental house
While travel insurance for COVID-19 may not cover all of your expenses if you test positive for the virus, it can help defray the significant costs of a cancelled trip or an unanticipated extended stay.
The bottom line is that travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage is essential for your next trip. Getting the right travel insurance policy is well worth the extra time and effort, especially during a global pandemic. When quoting and buying on TravelInsurance.com, click on the “COVID-19 FAQs” next to each plan to read the insurance company’s coverage position statement for COVID-19.
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