What to look for in your COVID-era travel insurance
After a year in which the only travel possible was via Zoom backgrounds, you might be dreaming of a real vacation (hey - same here). And with rising vaccine rates and decreasing COVID-19 cases in some parts of the world, that’s seeming more and more like a possibility. Even Europe, which has had its borders closed to US citizens since last year, seems poised to open for the summer holidays. Which begs the question: is there anything better than a big scoop of gelato in the warm summer sun?
But as travel so often leads to the unexpected — whether it's the serendipitous (a meet-cute at the foot of the Eiffel Tower) or the disastrous (sometimes street meats are not the answer) — it’s good to be prepared. But before 2020 came to a grinding halt, only a small percentage of people bought travel insurance (as of 2018, that number was around 38%).
For the approximately 60% of us who didn’t buy trip insurance in the Before Times, COVID-19 may prove a game changer. So besides getting vaccinated and packing a mask, are there other precautions that you can take? Specifically, are there policies you can purchase to protect yourself in case COVID-19 disrupts your plans?
The short answer is: kind of. Some companies are adapting to the times and now offer protection against coronavirus.
The longer answer is more complicated. As with most insurance plans, travel policies distinguish between foreseen and unforeseen events. Now that we’re more than a year into Life in the Time of Corona, we can all agree that COVID-19 is a foreseeable risk. So make sure to read the fine print before signing on the dotted line.
Okay, but what about quarantine?
We’ve done the math, and quarantining in a hotel for up to 14 days is going to cost you, especially once you factor in things like meals. And if your destination requires that you quarantine upon arrival - forcing you to miss out on tours you’ve booked, for instance - there’s little you can do insurance-wise. (So we strongly encourage you to check out the quarantine rules for any country you visit in advance of your arrival!)
But if you do happen to get sick while traveling, there are some policies that can help offset the expense:
- Travel delay coverage can be used to cover the costs if you contract COVID-19 during your trip, or if you have to stay beyond your planned return date owing to a positive test result.
- Trip interruption coverage will reimburse you for nonrefundable, prepaid expenses. So don’t worry about prepaying for those museum tickets — you might be able to get some of the price refunded. Rather than purchase this standalone, many premium credit cards offer this (or similar) coverage, so double check that too!
- Medical policies to cover hospitalization, evacuation, etc. But as always, double and triple check to make sure that COVID-19 is covered as part of your plan.
What if you get sick before you leave on your trip, or what if you get too scared to travel?
With how hectic everything feels right now, you might want to consider adding Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) to your travel insurance. CFAR does just what its name says: you can cancel for any reason, whether that’s coronavirus fears or just because you decided you’d rather spend the weekend reading in bed. The great part is this coverage applies to all trips, not just international destinations. A few other things to note:
- You cannot purchase CFAR on its own. It’s an option upgrade you can add to your travel policy.
- If you accept a voucher or credit from a hotel or airline for a canceled trip, you may find yourself unable to claim for a CFAR reimbursement. Though if it’s only a partial credit, you may be able to claim back the remaining amount.
- Plans often have varying restrictions, like a deadline for cancellation — so as always, read the details of your policy carefully.
It’s a whole new world out there, and at Marble, we want to do our part to help you get back out there, safely. So if you’re ready to start adding trip insurance onto your upcoming travel plans, we’ll be here to help you organize it.