Debating to check, or not check, the ‘add insurance?’ box is an internal struggle for so many of us. The pandemic has made it worse.
According to a survey in September 2021 by AAA, 31% more travelers are more likely to purchase travel insurance due to the COVID-19 virus.
Does purchasing travel insurance mean your trip is covered for COVID? No, not necessarily.
Let’s start with the basics. What does travel insurance cover?
Generally, your policy would cover:
Emergency medical and dental needs
Trip cancellation or interruption
In most cases, traveling goes without a hitch. Yet medical bills can be financially crippling if you’re accidentally injured or become unexpectedly ill overseas, so you will be happy you had the added coverage.
In some instances, you’re not able to see a doctor or visit a hospital in a foreign country without travel insurance. Many countries require proof of travel insurance before entering; for an updated list of requirements by region, visit Insure My Trip, one of the travel industry’s largest customer ratings and reviews forums, with a customer advocacy program that provides one-on-one assistance for trips. (Note: domestic health insurance is not considered proper coverage internationally.)
I’ve been an advocate of travel insurance since I started traveling solo at 18 years old. Over two decades of adventures worldwide, my policies have been my security blanket often. There was that time I had a bad car accident in New Zealand, and when I slipped on a hike and fell off the side of a cliff in Thailand. The injuries were bad enough that I knew I needed to be checked out medically. Thankfully there were no serious injuries resulting from either of those incidents but having travel insurance gave me a resource to reach out to for support. I maneuvered through health care options for my injuries and then filed claims to get reimbursed for any covered cost.
Katalina Mayorga, CEO and Co-Founder of women focused travel company El Camino Travel, shares that insurance is a must for all their guests. “We required that all of our travelers have travel insurance for our trips, even before the pandemic. Life happens, and the insurance is often the best way for travelers to protect their financial investment. Most people are spending a good chunk of their annual savings for the year on their travels, so why wouldn’t you want to protect that?”
What does travel insurance mean for the pandemic? It is essential to understand what your policy covers. This means that if, for some reason, you need to cancel your trip or file a claim, make sure the reason is covered under your policy. Cancellations due to fear of travel are unfortunately not protected.
Erin Fish, Co-Founder of insurance company Wanderwell Travel Insurance — best known for its socially good business model of funding environmental causes with every policy it sells, effectively reducing the carbon footprint of the travels — advises clients to “note the distinction between COVID-19 as an illness to you versus COVID-19 as a pandemic. COVID-19, as a pandemic, has been considered a ‘known event’ since early 2020. Trip cancellation or trip interruption claims related to travel restrictions, cancellations or fear of travel due to COVID-19 as a pandemic will likely not be payable.” Confirm with a travel insurance provider that the plan you’re interested in purchasing treats COVID-19 the same as any other illness for an illness-related loss.
Another option is to fully customize a plan. It takes a bit more research but could be the most beneficial and cost effective. Battleface Travel Insurance, based in Columbus, Ohio, and named International Travel & Health Insurer of the Year in 2020 by the International Travel & Health Insurance Journal, has a different approach to offering coverage. Sasha Gainullin, CEO, shares, “Everyone should have the ability to customize a policy based on their needs, destination and travel activities.” Battleface has developed a tech platform that unbundles travel insurance where travelers build their policy, choosing only relevant and necessary benefits — “ultimately assuring they have the right coverage at the right price, and without any surprises,” continues Sasha.
There are many different policies and options available, and selecting the right plan depends on one’s own circumstances. The expense of insurance is the number one reason why most people do not get it. Weighing these factors are personal, so choose the option that gives you peace of mind and sits well with you.
If you plan to purchase travel insurance for future trips, or even if you don’t, I wish you safe, happy, healthy and meaningful adventures ahead.