The recent COVID rise is sending shock waves across the travel industry, causing many people with holiday plans to think a little more.
The Delta variant already affects air travel. Both Southwest Airlines and Frontier previously stated that bookings had been slowed down due to the increase in infections. And travel sentiment is faltering, according to a new survey of customer sentiment, sliding four percentage points to 61 percent this month.
“Traveling during the delta wave poses additional security risks due to increased transfer and travel uncertainty in the event of cancellations or delays,” said Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage.com, an insurance market. “In either case, travel insurance can be your best guarantee.”
If you are one of those who have a different thought about traveling, you may be wondering if there is a way to protect your upcoming trip with travel insurance or travel protection. There is, but it is a process that requires a little insider knowledge and the right timing.
You need travel insurance “now more than ever”
But first things first: If you travel, you almost are definitely need some kind of travel protection.
“The Delta variant has made travel even more unpredictable,” said Daniel Durazo, spokesman for Allianz Partners USA. “The insecurity of travelers has made travel insurance even more important for families, especially those traveling with children who are too young to receive the vaccine.”
But not just any travel protection will do, experts say. It should protect you from COVID and other likely hazards.
“I always recommend purchasing comprehensive travel protection programs to protect against unexpected events,” said Karisa Cernera, senior manager of travel services at Redpoint Travel Protection, which sells Ripcord, Cavalry and Harbor insurance products. “But now more than ever.”
And the reason is simple – so much can go wrong when you’re on the go. It includes dangerous new varieties, lockdowns and quarantines as well as heat waves, wildfires and everything else that Mother Nature can throw at you.
And she can pack a punch these days.
Questions about travel protection that you absolutely must ask before you leave
Experts say you should ask these questions about your travel protection or travel insurance for any trip you are planning. Failure to do so could lead to many problems – or worse.
Related: Best Covid-19 Travel Insurance Plans 2021
Does your policy cover COVID-19 losses?
It absolutely must if you are planning a trip during or after the wave. That’s the recommendation from Bailey Foster, vice president of travel cancellations at Trawick International. “Many travel insurance providers still do not offer plans that protect against COVID-19,” she warns. Trawick’s plans have never ruled out COVID-19 and have no cut to the delta and lambda variants, he adds.
Are delta and lambda variants covered by your policy?
In general, they are. “If the policy is covered by infectious diseases, it may be covered,” said John Rose, head of risk and safety at ALTOUR. “You need to read and understand the policy thoroughly. Some policies may not cover infectious diseases, and even then it is only for medical costs and not for quarantine if someone is not hospitalized.”
I asked Sasha Gainullin, CEO of Battleface, if travel insurance companies had started treating the new variants differently for coverage purposes. “We have not seen any company differentiate coverage and benefits between Covid-19 delta and lambda variants,” he says.
Did you read the policy before you bought it?
You can not skip this step, experts say. “Read the policy – and I mean cover to cover – before you go,” advises Laura Heidt, insurance clerk manager at Brownell Travel. “Be very, very clearly what is, and more importantly, what is not covered. Here’s one thing to look for: If you have a “cancellation for some reason” insurance, it may include “fear of travel due to the new variants”, but it has rules: the trip must be canceled within 48 hours before your departure date and the policy must have been purchased no later than 21 days after you made the first deposit.Heidt also recommends a membership like MedjetAssist, which added global COVID transport coverage last month and covers all variants.
Have you considered a “Cancel for any reason” policy?
It is expensive but it provides maximum coverage. “I would suggest you buy a plan that offers a ‘cancel for some reason’ benefit, often as a rider for a surcharge,” says Joe Cronin, CEO of International Citizens Insurance, which provides insurance to expats. global travelers and digital nomads. “As the reality of traveling under COVID changes daily, it’s more valuable than ever to be able to cancel for some reason.” But “cancellation for some reason” coverage is not cheap. It costs between 9% and 12% of the cost of your trip, compared to 6% to 8% for a standard named dangers policy. Some insurance companies also exclude COVID as a reason for a cancellation, so read your policy or rider very carefully.
Have you been aware of this?
There are three insurance benefits you need to review additional carefully. “When applying for travel insurance that offers COVID protection, it is best to review the acute medical benefits and language of travel cancellation as well as the exceptions listed in the compliance document,” said Renee Stecker, Product Development Manager at AXA Assistance USA. This is where you will find the key policy language that tells you if you are getting the protection you need. Stecker says some travel insurances will offer coverage for COVID-19 treatment, just like for any other eligible illness that occurs after the policy’s effective date and while you are on your trip. But some do not. If you are not aware of the emergency medical benefits, benefits of cancellation of travel and exceptions, you may miss something very important.
What if you get sick before your trip?
There is coverage for that. For example, Allianz Partners’ new approval of epidemic coverage adds coverage for certain losses related to COVID-19 and any future epidemic. If you receive COVID either before or during your trip, you can cancel your itinerary to get your prepaid, non-refundable expenses reimbursed. Or you can cancel your trip and get extra accommodation, food and transport costs covered if you need to be quarantined. And Redpoint’s programs include not only coverage of cancellation and cancellation of travel, but also medical evacuation services and coverage of medical expenses in the event of an unforeseen illness such as COVID-19.
Have you considered the limits of your travel insurance?
Insurance does not cover everything. I have often noticed this in previous articles on this topic. There are significant limits to travel insurance. “The pandemic raised awareness of the limitations of traditional travel insurance and the value of a stand-alone medical assistance and evacuation safety net,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, a provider of medical evacuation and travel risk management services. For example, emergency and evacuation services are often crucial, “whether it’s due to a natural disaster, civil unrest, or simply needing emergency assistance when traveling,” Richards says.
To avoid a travel protection error, be careful
Making a smart decision about travel insurance is harder than ever. And mistakes are easy to make. You may have no idea if you are covered or not at a time when travel protection and travel insurance are covered or not, at a time when you need travel protection and insurance the most. Now more than ever, you need to consider a travel insurance policy. But you also need to read your policy carefully before you buy it – and to understand what you do – and do not – need.
In other words, beware out there. And carefully consider your insurance needs.
Related: Best Covid-19 Travel Insurance Plans 2021