Travel Insurance Guide in COVID-19 times

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel Insurance covers if you contract an unexpected illness, including Covid-19. Benefits should include Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Medical Insurance, Medical Evacuation, and Trip Delay.

Your travel insurance policy should cover unexpected scenarios, like illness or injury, resulting in cancellation. Or medical treatment if you fall ill or sustain an injury while traveling abroad. If a situation is foreseeable, travel insurance cannot cover it.

Travel insurance covers cancellation if a natural disaster makes your destination inaccessible or uninhabitable. However, this does not apply to biological pandemics. Outbreaks are neither geological nor weather-related natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, blizzards, earthquakes, and fires.

However, there is strong travel protection coverage for the majority of issues that travelers with Covid concerns might encounter.

Trip Cancellation

Contract Coronavirus. If you contract the Coronavirus before departure, travel insurance covers Trip Cancellation for an unexpected illness.

Medical isolation. Medical isolation means you showed symptoms of Covid or were exposed to someone who tested positive for it and forced into strict medical isolation to prevent the spread of the disease. The orders must originate from a recognized government authority, their deputies, medical examiners, or physicians.

Most travel insurance covers cancellation for medical isolation, but not shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, curfew, or no-travel orders from local or state governments. Policies also do not cover medical isolation if your destination is under quarantine, or you must isolate upon arriving at your destination.

Level 4 travel advisory. Several policies include cancellation if your destination has a Level 4 or higher travel warning, evacuation order, or travel ban. The travel warning must occur during your scheduled trip. However, the warning must be issued after your policy went into effect.

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Trip Interruption

Trip Interruption is if a covered circumstance occurs during your trip, and you must cut it short.

Unexpected sickness. If you become ill and require treatment for Covid-19 during your trip, travel insurance reimburses you for the unused portion of your trip.

Bed rest. If you test positive for Covid-19 but not so severely that you require hospitalization, some policies cover bed rest. This benefit includes extra coverage for food and staying in a hotel until your physician clears you for return travel. This does not include shelter-in-place orders from local authorities.

Medical isolation. Like trip cancellation, medical isolation means you have or were directly exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19. Consequently, you are forced into strict medical isolation to prevent the spread of disease. The orders must originate from a recognized government authority, their deputies, medical examiners, or physicians.

For example, suppose you were on board a cruise ship when a highly contagious disease broke out. The cruise ship might likely force passengers to stay isolated in their cabins until disembarkation.

Denied boarding. Travel insurance does not cover claims if a common carrier checks your temperature and then denies you boarding.

However, if you are running a fever when you wake up in the morning, go to the doctor first. If the doctor restricts you from travel based on your health condition, travel insurance typically covers it.

Medical Insurance

Most policies cover Medical Treatment and Hospitalization Insurance for Coronavirus if contracted during the trip.

If you had Covid-19 in the past, make sure your policy has a Pre-existing Condition Waiver. The Waiver allows the policy to cover Covid-19 if you are reinfected.

Emergency Medical Evacuation

The Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit pays for your transportation to the hospital and back to the US.

Most insurers cover Medical Evacuation and medical repatriation if chosen. It is recommended to have a Pre-existing Condition Waiver on your policy.

Trip Delay

Most policies cover Trip Delays due to a covered injury or illness and unforeseen quarantine.

Quarantine is medical isolation as mandated by a physician or local authority because you have or are suspected of having an infectious disease.

If you contract Covid-19 during your trip, the Trip Delay benefit helps cover the cost of lodging, food, local transportation, and phone calls while you stay in a hotel. If you are hospitalized, the Trip Interruption and Medical Insurance cover your hospitalization costs.

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What is Excluded in most travel insurance?

While travel insurance plans are comprehensive, they all have exclusions. Next, we discuss a few situations they do not cover for Cancellation or Interruption.

Travel canceled by the supplier. If your airline, cruise line, or tour company canceled your trip, travel insurance does not cover this. They are responsible for reimbursing you for the cost of the airfare because they initiated cancellation.

Pre-existing conditions that make you high-risk for Coronavirus. If you have pre-existing medical conditions that put you at high risk of contracting Coronavirus, travel insurance does not cover cancellation.

Trip Cancellations due to medical reasons are covered when a new or worsened condition develops after buying the policy. The circumstance itself must prevent your travel. It does not cover if your condition worsens, and the risk of Covid-19 makes travel inadvisable.

Coronavirus country closures. Travel insurance policies do not cover Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption benefits if a government advises travelers not to visit specific countries because of the Coronavirus threat. The same holds for CDC travel warnings.

Travel insurance has standard Trip Cancellation and Interruption benefits that rarely include travel advisories and warnings.

Closed borders. Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption provide no protection if you plan to visit a country prohibiting foreign travelers’ entry.

Denied boarding of flight or cruise. If screeners refuse your boarding because you have a high temperature, you should seek medical attention immediately. Denied boarding to a flight or cruise is not covered.

However, suppose you see a doctor who determines you have a fever. If they advise against travel, it may be a covered Trip Interruption.

Screening delays. Travel insurance does not cover losses if you are late to your flight, tour, train, bus, or cruise due to health screening delays.

Rescinded visas. If you possess a visa no longer valid for a country closed due to Coronavirus, travel insurance cannot reimburse you for lost travel arrangements. Visa problems are not covered by travel insurance unless there is a documented theft of a passport or visa.

Canceled flights, tours, hotels/rentals, and cruises. If you cancel your trip due to fear of Coronavirus, travel insurance coverage is limited. It does not reimburse you for the cost of your flights, hotels, tours, cruises, or other travel arrangements lost unless you cancel for a covered reason.

Some policies cover bankruptcy/default of airlines, cruise lines, and tour operators. Check your policy to find out if it is covered. Travel insurance cannot protect you from travel agencies/booking companies that file for bankruptcy or go out of business.

Closed beaches or attractions. Travel insurance does not cover your loss if the beach or attraction you planned to visit is closed due to an outbreak or “shelter in place” order.

Lack of vaccine. Travel insurance does not cover cancellation if you have not received all doses of your Coronavirus vaccine, even if required by travel suppliers.

Covid/PCR tests. Travel insurance does not pay for the cost of a Covid test required for travel. Nor does travel insurance reimburse you if you do not take a covid test and are denied travel.

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