Your Questions Answered: Travel Insurance In The Age Of COVID-19

With local and international borders reopening, travel will resume, but how much do you know about travel insurance in the age of COVID-19? Here are some questions worth asking before you hop on a plane. (Image by Gabriella Clare Marino)

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Travel insurance has always been pivotal for travelling emergencies while abroad, as medical costs in a foreign land can often cost an arm and a leg. But in the times of Coronavirus, it is perhaps even more critical to have now than ever.

Some countries have even made it mandatory to have an insurance cover with COVID-19 protection to qualify for entry. For example, suppose you plan to travel to Bali or Riau Islands. In that case, you’ll need to have insurance coverage for COVID-19 treatment worth at least USD100,000 and also pay for your own accommodation during a five-day quarantine period.

So, with all these new rules and regulations, what’s a girl to do if she dreams of soaring across the skies to new destinations once more? Well, that’s where our little guide here will come in handy.

Vaccinating is king

Image by CDC

Langkawi’s newly-implemented travel bubble for international travellers has strict guidelines that only persons who have completed total doses of their vaccinations are allowed entry, so it’s safe to say that many countries reopening their borders will probably have the same restrictions.

Not only does vaccinating give you protection, but it also ensures that you won’t have to rely on the overburdened medical professionals in the country you’re visiting should the unexpected occur. Depending on the country’s COVD-19 regulations, being vaccinated also ensures that you will be able to freely visit restaurants, museums, and the veritable feast of venues for the duration of your trip.

Our neighbouring tourism-heavy kingdom of Thailand, for instance, requires international travellers to have completed their vaccinations, have an insurance policy of at least USD50,000 with COVID-19 coverage clearly identified, and also stay one night in a government-approved hotel. All while they await the results of a COVID-19 test that will be administered upon arrival.

Do your research

Image by Obi Onyeador

Fully vaccinated and acquired your complete immunity? Great! Don’t just check incidence rates and the travel advisories imposed by the government in the country you plan to visit; look out for travel insurance that can help you in emergencies or trip disruptions linked to Coronavirus.

​​Some general insurers such as Allianz, AIG, and Tune Protect (links are to travel insurance policies) have revised their travel insurance offerings to include COVID-19 related incidents. But at this time, most other insurance companies are still looking into adding standard policies to their existing travel insurance plans. This means you’ll have to look a little and make comparisons for the right insurance plan.

Choosing your travel insurance

Image by Gerrie van der Walt

While some insurers have revised their products or added to their current selection, don’t just dive headfirst into the first one you see. Ideally, your COVID-19 coverage should include circumstances before, during, and after the trip.

For some products, they may only cover medical costs, expenses, and quarantine at a hospital if a customer contracts COVID-19 during the travel duration, and any cancellations that occur due to government travel bans, border closures, or mandatory quarantine/self-isolation requirements will not be covered. So, make sure to read and understand the fine print, and ask if there is anything unclear.

As most countries also require travellers to test before and when arriving at the destination, you could still run the risk of testing positive upon arrival or needing to cut your travel short due to the situation at home. Travel insurance and the additional premiums can vary wildly, so talk to your insurance provider to understand the best coverage for your needs and ask if you have any questions about the plans currently available.

When you’re at your destination

Image by Pascal Meier

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, well-prepared, and insured, travelling during a pandemic carries its risks. Reports show that vaccinated individuals can still become infected and, in cases where the individual is asymptomatic, could still be a carrier.

So, when you’re off on your travels again, don’t forget to keep to social distancing protocols, follow hygiene rules, and wear a mask when necessary. Remember, travel requires flexibility. Go with the flow and adjust your expectations for that perfect itinerary. Plan for airlines, accommodations, and activities that allow cancellation or rescheduling at short notice to avoid disappointment or frustration.

Bon voyage, travellers!

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Whiskey drinker. Whimsy finder. Word writer. Sue May is a fan of big words and arcane definitions. Fascinated with stories, this honorary Geordie enjoys stumbling down well-trodden paths, roads less travelled by, and meeting new people. (Sometimes she writes about them.)