How to Choose Travel Insurance During a Pandemic: What Should Be Covered

In this day and age, traveling for business/pleasure purposes or planning leisure time and vacations is considered a great luxury after the spreading of the coronavirus launched a series of events that halted the world as we once knew it. With a global pandemic breathing down our necks and changing every daily activity that was once considered normal, traveling seems to be on the “hard to achieve” list. Different governmentally issued regulations that vary from country to country, widespread restrictions that limit the hospitality industry, social distancing and overall lockdowns are one of the main obstacles for travelers nowadays. Travel insurance companies had to adapt to these changes and international health regulations inscribed by the WHO and thus convince their potential clients that traveling in these unprecedented times is safe. 

At the moment, even though the pandemic isn’t over, travel is slowly resuming and people are looking into new travel insurance plans, if the worst should happen. During the primary lockdowns, a lot of travel insurance companies didn’t include any travel changes that the pandemic induced; travelers were left stranded on foreign soil having to spend their own money and cover the costs of early flight bookings or nonrefundable tickets and accommodations that were abruptly cancelled. So, what should your travel insurance cover and what are the types of insurance to consider?

The first type to consider while planning a trip is a Cancel for Any Reason or CFAR for short. If your concerns can’t be covered by a regular policy, or you’re scared of losing the invested money, CFAR is the best option. The only potential downside of this type of investment in travel insurance is the price and time-sensitivity issue. It is estimated that the price of CFAR is 40% higher in comparison to the regular travel insurance policy. Also, there’s a possibility you won’t get your money back in full – most of them cover up to 75% of reimbursement nonrefundable travel costs. Bottom line, this type of travel insurance pays off if you’re considering a very expensive trip, otherwise, the cons outweigh the pros in this situation.

This second type of travel insurance is possibly the most important one to consider with an ongoing pandemic still restricting us. Most of the travel insurance providers still don’t offer the cost coverage in case of a pandemic, but some of them are switching up the game by adding an option that includes COVID-19 medical coverage, valid up to $100,000. Others offer special added provisions to their policies that take care of any cancellation or medical expenses that may occur from getting infected with the virus before or during a trip. Also, since the coronavirus outbreak changed the way we function, it changed the way we travel too; it made a lot of people travel domestic after the first bans were lifted, so your health insurance will possibly take care of any potential expenses. If this is the case, the most important thing for a traveler is a trip cancellation coverage – a 100% reimbursement of their nonrefundable trip costs.

This might be unfamiliar to most but some credit card travel insurances could potentially save you from a COVID-19 related issue. Many of the credit cards we own come along with a travel insurance policy, which means that if you use the card to pay for covered travel, this program can kick in and reimburse you for various purchases – it all depends on the terms and conditions of the insurance company.

The last type to consider is a standard travel policy, and even though it usually doesn’t cover any pandemic related issues, other travel providers such as hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer free cancellation to all of their guests. Everything outside of these listed costs will not be covered by these policies, so be sure to have that in mind while acquiring one. Also, pay attention to time frames related to these policies and to read all of the small font paragraphs since they contain information that can make or break the deal.  To conclude, choosing the correct travel insurance covers three basic courses of action; identification of needs, thorough research and acquiring a comprehensive disruption cover. Ask yourself all of the needed questions, such as, am I traveling to a country on the “no go list”, or, should my insurance cover people over 65 etc. All of these can help with the following research; take into account to read all the fine print on all of your policy documents as there could be clauses that may suggest a change in your plans while traveling. Reading up on customer reviews of insurance providers can be of utmost value. Lastly, the majority of travel companies cover all medical emergencies, but the top policies have comprehensive disruption cover; if you get sick, they will be able to reimburse you for all sorts of expenses that the pandemic may impose, such as enforced stays, delays and missed departures. After all this insurance talk and information, you should be able to choose wisely before traveling, and stay safe and fully covered!

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