With hope that the COVID-19 global pandemic is finally coming closer to an end, many people are beginning to travel again and awareness of travel insurance has been rising along with the increase in travel demand. One recent survey reported by LinkedIn found that 90 percent of respondents said they were looking forward to traveling in 2021, while well over half of respondents noted they would be more likely to buy travel insurance for future trips.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked many changes in the travel insurance industry, with insurers introducing polices to address COVID-19-related trip interruptions and cancellations. The current pandemic exposed how dramatically things can go wrong from a travel perspective, with many travelers losing significant amounts of money or becoming ill on a trip. Some also discovered the hard way that even if they had travel insurance it didn’t necessarily provide the specific coverage that they ended up needing. Indeed, for many months into the pandemic, the vast majority of travel insurance policies excluded pandemics as a covered reason. The insurers we work with at TravelInsurance.com now offer COVID-19 coverage for emergency medical situations, trip cancellation, trip interruptions and more. When comparing quotes, please be sure to click on the “COVID-19 FAQs” link next to each plan in order to launch a window with COVID-19 coverage details.
According to a Bankrate survey, more than half of consumers cancelled 2020 activities that required an advance purchase, such as vacation rentals, and lost at least some of their money. Airlines that cancelled flights often provided vouchers rather than refunds, or simply left consumers waiting for money that would never come. CNBC reported as of October 2020 that there were 43 commercial airlines that had suspended operations or ceased to exist entirely because of COVID-19.
Travel Insurance is Becoming a Vacation Staple
With consumers now realizing the risk that comes with being uninsured, travel insurance is becoming as important, and in some cases as necessary, as having a valid passport. Fortunately, there are more plans now that cover COVID-19-related losses outright if a policy holder contracts the virus. These policies provide coverage such as emergency medical evacuation, emergency medical care, trip interruption and trip delay coverage, if the policy holder contracts COVID-19 while traveling. Some plans also provide higher travel delay limits to help travelers with additional accommodation expenses related to a covered quarantine.
Some Countries Are Requiring Travel Insurance for Entry
While peace of mind is arguably the main reason for the rise in travel insurance awareness, there is another important factor. Some countries have mandated that incoming visitors have travel insurance, either by including it in visa or entry fees, or requiring proof of coverage that includes COVID-19. While restrictions and regulations are continually changing, the New York Times recently reported that the destinations requiring travel insurance include:
- British Virgin Islands
- Costa Rica
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Sint Maarten
- Turks and Caicos
Given the constantly evolving global pandemic and the fact that requirements are bound to evolve over time, it is essential to check the current entry rules for any country you are visiting to ensure that your policy meets the minimum requirements.
The Types of Travel Insurance Policies Available
The demand for pandemic coverage has led the insurance industry to create new products to meet those needs. A plan that includes medical expense coverage for COVID-19, trip protection and coverage for baggage and personal effects typically costs anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of the total dollar value of the trip. With the enhancements added to travel insurance policies, epidemic-related illnesses are now often a covered reason to interrupt or cancel a trip, seek reimbursement for emergency medical transport and care, be reimbursed for change fees, and more. While many add-ons became temporarily available following the onset of the pandemic, they now appear to have been made permanent.
As you compare online, you will also want to be aware of the various travel insurance options available.
Travel Medical Insurance. These plans primarily offer emergency medical and evacuation benefits and may also provide some limited trip interruption benefits. They can be good options for those who are most concerned about emergency medical protection.
Standalone Travel Insurance. This type of plan provides the most comprehensive coverage. Polices typically include trip delay/interruption, trip cancellation, lost luggage, and emergency medical coverage. The options depend on the state that you live in, with both single and multi-trip policies available.
Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR). A CFAR policy may be available as an optional add-on to standalone travel insurance and other comprehensive travel insurance policies. The plans allow you to cancel your trip for any reason and receive a partial reimbursement. The amount covered is typically up to 75 percent of the total cost of a non-refundable trip, provided it is cancelled no less than 48 hours in advance of the departure date. The entire cost of the trip must be insured. CFAR coverage typically adds 40 percent to the cost of the base travel insurance price which generally ranges from 5 to 10 percent of the trip’s total dollar value.
Where to Find Plans that Cover COVID-19
With more options now available to cover emergency evacuation, emergency medical expenses, trip delays, interruptions, and cancellations due to COVID-19, it is much easier to find a plan that will suit your needs.
One of the best ways to buy travel insurance if you don’t want to spend hours researching, trying to figure out what is really covered and what isn’t, submitting countless forms to get quotes and so on, is to use TravelInsurance.com. A member of the US Travel Insurance Association, TravelInsurance.com provides travel insurance options from top insurers and allows you to compare coverage and prices to find the policy that best suits your needs.
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