When the Coronavirus hit, travelers mid-trip and with upcoming plans were scrambling to figure out if their travel insurance would cover unanticipated delays and cancellations during a global pandemic. Answers were a mixed bag. Today, there are new answers as travel insurance policies adapt to a new, much different world of travel. If you’re thinking of traveling this upcoming holiday season or anytime in the future, packing a travel insurance policy is highly recommended.
Travel insurance helps cover unexpected events, like a weather event, theft, lost baggage, and depending on your policy, much more. Once an event becomes a “known” event, it may not be a covered reason for cancellation if a traveler purchased the policy after the “known” date. On January 21, 2020, the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) became a named/known event, and on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, which affects travel insurance coverage available for new policies purchased.
But in an always unpredictable world, purchasing travel insurance today is still a smart decision to help cover the gamut of unforeseen scenarios and potential concerns about traveling during the pandemic. Comprehensive travel insurance is your surest bet and includes these coverages (some of these coverages can be purchased as stand-alone policies as well):
- Emergency Medical Coverage: covers a sick traveler who must see a doctor and/or go to the hospital during a trip. If you are concerned about contracting the Coronavirus while traveling, medical coverage options are available. We are in constant communication with our providers, and they have confirmed they will continue to cover travelers who need medical care due to COVID-19. If you purchase Emergency Medical coverage as part of a comprehensive plan, there is no deductible. If Travel Medical Insurance is purchased as a stand-alone policy, the policy is secondary to your primary health care insurance and does have a deductible. It’s also important to consult your primary health care insurance provider to note coverages while traveling domestically and internationally.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation Coverage: covers the rare case of a sick traveler requiring an emergency medical evacuation to the nearest appropriate hospital or back home for recuperation.
- Trip Interruption Coverage: covers an extremely sick traveler who cannot continue with a trip and must return home.
- Cancel For Any Reason Coverage: Currently, if you are looking for trip cancellation coverage because you are concerned about the Coronavirus and want to have flexibility to cancel for any personal reason that may arise, you will now need to purchase a travel insurance policy that includes Cancel For Any Reason, since the travel warnings are now foreseen. This benefit is time-sensitive and has other eligibility requirements, so not all travelers will qualify.
- Financial Default Coverage: The impact of the Coronavirus goes beyond medical as concern grows over the long-term financial impact on the travel industry. Travelers may consider seeking financial default coverage as a precautionary measure in the event their travel supplier becomes financially insolvent. This specific coverage is already included in many comprehensive travel insurance plans and is designed to help travelers in the event their travel supplier, such as their airline, cruise line or tour operator, has stopped business operations due to financial reasons.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These benefits are very common for comprehensive travel insurance policies, but they can vary per plan. Benefits may also be time sensitive. Be sure to read the policy details carefully before purchasing. Policy exceptions may apply if you are traveling to a country with a Travel Health Notice issued by the CDC. Trip Interruption and Cancel For Any Reason coverages are not available to non-U.S. citizens/permanent residents.
If you are planning vacation rental getaway with services such as Airbnb, Vrbo and HomeAway, vacation rental coverage is a separate policy you may want to consider. Coverage is intended to help cover expenses related to accidental damage that may occur to the rental property, which may include broken items like lamps, windows, doors and electronics.
From everyone at PayneWest Insurance, we hope that your holiday season and upcoming travel is as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Stay safe and be well!