Omicron and travel: so do i need travel insurance now?
While the pandemic has depressed travel, it may have encouraged travel insurance, according to industry professionals.
“The biggest question customers ask us is, ‘What if I catch Covid while traveling and what if I need to quarantine? Said Jeremy Murchland, President of Seven corners, a travel insurance management company. “Covid has created a much wider awareness of travel insurance.”
But will that help you in light of the new Omicron variant, which has already brought new travel restrictions and requirements? At the start of the pandemic, travel insurance largely failed to protect travelers who wanted or had to cancel when the world stopped. Here are the answers to common questions about travel insurance now.
Does travel insurance cover Covid-19, including the new Omicron variant?
For the most part, yes, travel insurance policies now treat Covid-19 in all of its variations – including Omicron – like any other medical emergency.
“Consumers should be aware that most travel insurance plans with medical benefits now treat Covid like any other illness you might contract while traveling or which could prevent you from going on a trip,” said Carol Mueller, vice president of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. “If you become ill before your trip, you will need a medical certificate confirming your illness and indicating that you cannot travel to be entitled to benefits. The benefits are the same whether you get Omicron, another variant of Covid, or any disease for that matter. “
Buyers should read the policies carefully and look for those that exclude pandemics, Covid-19 and its variants. To make a claim, you must have purchased travel insurance before you fell ill.
“We always say you can’t buy auto insurance after you’ve already had an accident,” said Meghan Walch, product manager of InsureMyTravel, an insurance sales site. “It’s designed for unforeseen problems. You must buy it before an event.
I am traveling abroad. If the borders close because of Omicron, am I covered by travel insurance?
No, most policies do not cover you if your foreign destination closes its borders to visitors, as Israel recently did. With a few exceptions, this also applies to a government-issued travel warning to a destination, which is usually not a covered reason for making a claim.
Given the additional uncertainties of Omicron, should I consider a cancellation policy for any reason?
The Cancellation for Any Reason provisions, or CFAR, would allow you to claim some of your non-refundable expenses if you decide not to go on a trip for any reason, including border closures or fear to contract Covid. The catch is that this form of insurance, in addition to being more expensive, usually has to be purchased within a day or two of booking the trip and will only reimburse 50-75% of the cost of the trip. non-refundable travel.
“Most travel insurance policies don’t cover you if you want to cancel for fear of Covid. We say this 10 times a week, ”said Sarah Groen, the owner of the agency. Bell and Bly trip. She advises clients to consider their worst fears – illness, for example, or quarantine – when troubleshooting travel insurance. “We have become like therapists,” she said.
What about quarantine and medical bills?
Make sure the policy you choose covers them. In the event of medical coverage, check with your mutual insurance company; many policies will not cover you overseas, which is another reason to consider coverage if you are traveling overseas.
“What travel insurance can do is cover additional hotel stays if you are able to quarantine yourself and additional airline tickets when you can get home,” Megan Moncrief said. , Marketing Director of Square mouth, a travel insurance sales site. She added that most policies will extend for up to seven days after the originally scheduled return date, effectively only covering about seven days in quarantine cases.
Do some destinations require travel insurance?
Yes, mainly to cover medical care or quarantine accommodation in the event a traveler tests positive for Covid-19. For example, Singapore requires medical insurance with minimum coverage of S $ 30,000, or approximately $ 22,000. Fiji requires travel insurance to cover potential treatment for Covid-19, and makes it available starting at around $ 30. Some destinations, such as Anguilla, recommend rather than require travel insurance. InsureMyTrip.com has a page dedicated to countries that require travel insurance.
It is worth considering what it would take to return home for treatment if you contracted Covid-19 abroad. Thailand, for example, requires travelers must have medical insurance with a minimum coverage of $ 50,000. “Evacuations out of Thailand would be larger,” said Sasha Gainullin, chief executive of Battle face, a travel insurance start-up that separates the advantages. In the case of a trip to Thailand, he advised taking medical coverage up to $ 100,000 for on-site treatment and $ 500,000 for medical evacuation and repatriation.
Do I need insurance if I have reservations with flexible cancellation policies?
Probably not, if you have hotel reservations that allow free cancellation 24-48 hours in advance. The same with flights; if your flight is changeable and will provide a voucher or refund in the event of cancellation, you’re covered.
I rented a house with restrictive cancellation penalties. Can I insure myself against these?
Yes. Vacation home rentals on Airbnb and others can be treated like other accommodations that do not offer refunds. In this case, you would want to purchase a policy for the amount you would lose if you had to cancel for a covered reason such as illness. Again, the fear of traveling is not a covered reason; for this you would need CFAR
Elaine Glusac is the columnist for Frugal Traveler. Follow her on Instagram: @eglusac.
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