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How Will The Current Pandemic Impact Travel Insurance? (Policies Included!)

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*By Charlotte Dow. Note that this post contains affiliate links to partners we think you’ll love.

Will travel insurance cover coronavirus? And how will the current pandemic impact travel insurance?

These are two questions this post sets out to answer for travelers. 

It’s safe to say that the novel coronavirus, more specifically known as COVID-19, has interrupted most of our daily lives in one way or another. This pandemic has been particularly rough on travelers, as many affected countries put travel restrictions in place and entire cities have shut down to help stop the spread of the virus. 

The question of whether or not to get travel insurance is top of mind for many travelers as coronavirus-related cancellations pile up.

Travel insurance is just one way to protect yourself — and your wallet — while you’re on the road and should be a part of any trip, regardless of the global situation.

And if you have travel planned for the next few months or have already had a trip interrupted by the pandemic, you’re probably wondering if travel insurance will cover coronavirus and what travel insurance does not cover when it comes to this pandemic. 

Thankfully, many insurers have adjusted and clarified their policies to accommodate travelers affected by the pandemic.

We’ve rounded up coronavirus policies from some of the top travel insurance agencies to help you sort things out. Of course, remember to check your individual policy with your insurer for full details, especially as details may change at any time.  

Additionally, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to see what experts believe the future of travel insurance looks like. 

Important note:

The following is for informational and educational purposes only. For the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic, please visit the CDC website and the WHO website.

Also, note that Jessie does not believe that now is the time for recreational travel. In fact, she is one of 60+ travel bloggers who signed an open letter stating as such, which you can read here

Impact Travel Insurance airport
Stuck in the airport after a canceled flight? You’re entitled to assistance from your airline. Photo by Palu Malerba from Pexels.

Your Air Passenger Rights

According to AirHelp, if your flight is canceled due to the virus, you can either receive a full refund of your ticket price or a ticket on an alternative flight once flights resume.

If you’re stuck in the airport due to a coronavirus cancellation, the airline must provide you with meals and refreshments, access to communication and a place to stay overnight if necessary.

Check with your specific airline for more information on refunds and other policies regarding the virus if you decide to cancel your trip.

You can also click here to use AirHelp’s claim compensation services.

Travel Insurance Policies & Updates

Again, while the following statements were true at the time of writing, it is best to double-check with your travel insurance provider for the most up-to-date information. 

SafetyWing

Jessie herself is a huge fan of SafetyWing’s travel insurance and considers it one of the best travel medical insurance options for digital nomads. The company’s coronavirus coverage is also straightforward for those with plans to travel to certain affected countries.

What’s Covered:

  • All coronavirus-related medical expenses are covered in countries with a CDC Warning Level 3. At the time of writing, this applies to China, Iran and most of Europe including the United Kingdom and Ireland. Be sure to check the CDC’s website for updates.
  • Certain travel expenses are covered under SafetyWing’s “Political Evacuation” benefits if the U.S Department of State issues a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory for your location. These advisories are currently in place for several countries affected by the virus. 

Qualifiers for Coverage:

  • Coronavirus treatment is covered for 10 days after a CDC Warning Level 3 is issued in a given country. Policyholders who choose to stay in that location beyond the 10-day period will not be eligible for coverage and their policies will function as normal.
  • To qualify for Political Evacuation coverage, you must leave the location within 10 days of the Department of State issuing the travel advisory.

What Isn’t Covered:

  • As SafetyWing only offers health insurance, trip cancellation and interruption are not covered.
Impact Travel Insurance
If you’re quarantined abroad because of COVID-19, most travel insurance companies will cover your trip interruption costs. Photo by nappy from Pexels.

World Nomads

What’s Covered:

  • If you, your traveling companion or one of your family members contracts the virus prior to your departure, World Nomads has you covered under their Trip Cancellation policy.
  • If you or your traveling companion get sick while on your trip, the company can assist with medical costs through their Emergency Medical and Evacuation policy.
  • Pre-paid, non-refundable travel arrangements for those who contract COVID-19 on or before their trip are covered through their Trip Interruption benefits.

Qualifiers for Coverage:

  • These benefits only apply to those personally affected by the virus or quarantined due to exposure.

What’s Not Covered:

  • According to the World Nomads website, “While the cessation of travel services due to COVID-19 isn’t covered under World Nomads plans,” i.e. event and flight cancellations, “you can contact the 24/7 Emergency Assistance team who are at your disposition to help you out in a crisis.” This hotline can also help you find medical care abroad if you think you might be sick.

Allianz Travel Insurance

What’s Covered:

  • Allianz will cover emergency medical care, trip interruption and trip cancellation for travelers who come down with COVID-19.
  • They will also cover trip cancellation for non-refundable, non-transferable trips to Mainland China, South Korea or the Lombardy or Veneto areas of Italy purchased prior to January 22, 2020, when the virus was recognized as a known event.

What’s Not Covered:

  • According to the Allianz website, “Claims due to known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, government prohibitions, warnings, or travel advisories or fear of travel are generally not covered, and coverage can vary by state.”

InsureMyTrip

What’s Covered:

  • InsureMyTrip policyholders who purchased their trip after January 21, 2020, can expect to receive emergency medical care, emergency medical evacuation and trip interruption coverage if they contract the virus during their trip.

What’s Not Covered:

  • “Similar to a weather event, once an event becomes a ‘known’ event, it may not be a covered reason for cancellation if a traveler purchases insurance after that date,” InsureMyTrip’s website states. They encourage travelers to check their individual policy’s epidemic/pandemic exclusions.
  • Travelers who are not currently ill but still wish to cancel their trips must purchase a plan that includes “Cancel For Any Reason” (or CFAR) protection.
impact travel insurance airplane
How will the current pandemic impact travel insurance? Photo via C. Cagnin/Pexels.

RoamRight

What’s Covered:

  • RoamRight will cover trip cancellation and interruption costs if you are physically quarantined while traveling.
  • If you contract the virus while traveling, your plan may cover Emergency Medical Treatment and, if necessary, Emergency Medical Evacuation to a higher level of care.

Qualifiers for Coverage:

  • Policies must have been purchased on or before January 22, 2020, the date that the virus became a known event.

What’s Not Covered:

  • Trip cancellations and interruptions due to fear of travel are not covered unless you’ve purchased a Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
  • Likewise, trip cancellation and interruption benefits are not available simply because your destination is subject to a CDC Travel Warning.
  • If you’ve been informed by authorities at your destination that you will be quarantined upon arrival, you will not be eligible for trip cancellation and interruption coverage. In these cases, RoamRight says, “We recommend the traveler contact their travel provider to secure a date change or credit for future travel.”
Impact Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is one of your best forms of protection on the road. Photo by suzukii xingfu from Pexels.

Travelex

What’s Covered:

  • Cancellation and interruption of your trip are covered if you or your traveling companion contract the virus or are quarantined while your coverage is in effect.
  • Travelex will also cover your emergency medical and emergency medical evacuation costs if you contract the virus while traveling.

Qualifiers for Coverage:

  • Your illness must be certified by a doctor as soon as your plans are canceled or interrupted.

What’s Not Covered:

  • Fear of travel, travel advisories and destination inaccessibility (i.e. border closings) due to COVID-19 are not included as covered risks for trip cancellation and interruption unless you have purchased a Cancel For Any Reason Upgrade.
  • Hotel bookings, flights and other trip elements canceled by their suppliers are not covered under Travelex plans. The company’s policy states, “Travel advisors and/or travelers should contact the airlines, cruise and tour operators and other suppliers to consider your options to change travel arrangements with the ability to waive or reduce penalties.”

GeoBlue

GeoBlue, the global health insurance arm of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, has lots of resources for members who are affected by COVID-19.

“The health of members continues to be the focus for GeoBlue,” said Sheldon Kenton, the company’s CEO/President. “We are closely monitoring the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and working directly with our members, our Blue Plan partners in the U.S. and Bupa globally to remove barriers to care as we work through this outbreak.”

What’s Covered:

  • Medically-necessary, prescribed testing for COVID-19 is covered under all fully-funded plans, with no cost-share to members. This coverage also includes physicians’ fees and any other expenses related to testing.
  • All members also have access to GeoBlue’s telemedicine service, Global TeleMD, where you can privately speak with a network of doctors around the world. GeoBlue encourages members who may be sick to use this option in an effort to limit exposure.
Impact Travel Insurance backpack
Be sure to check your travel insurance policy for full details on what’s covered. Photo by Negative Space from Pexels.

TripMate

TripMate encourages customers to check their specific policies for more details on coverage, but there are certain protections available for travelers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

What’s Covered:

  • If you are quarantined in a location and need to delay your travel, or if you miss a connection due to a common carrier delay, you may be covered under your TripMate plan.
  • Trip interruption and cancellations due to quarantine and government-mandated shutdowns of airports are also covered under specific plans, depending on the date of purchase. Again, check your policy for more details.
  • If you contract the virus before or during your trip, you may also be eligible for trip cancellation and interruption coverage.

What’s Not Covered:

  • Like other plans, fear of travel and lower level travel restrictions are not covered under most TripMate plans; however, if you purchased a Cancel For Any Reason plan, you can receive a benefit in the form of cash or a travel voucher.

American Express Travel Insurance

What’s Covered:

  • If your trip is canceled by a common carrier because of the COVID-19 crisis or if you decide to cancel your trip and you have already purchased an insurance plan from AmEx, you can put in a request to rescind your coverage and receive a full refund on your policy.
  • You may be eligible for trip cancellation or interruption coverage if you contract the virus before your trip. Check your individual policy for more details.

Qualifications for Coverage:

  • Your planned trip must begin before 12:01 am on May 1, 2020.
  • No claims have been paid on the coverage since the date of purchase.

What’s Not Covered:

  • AmEx will not cover the cost of your trip — outside of your trip insurance policy — if you decide to cancel out of fear of contracting the virus.
  • AmEx does not offer Cancel For Any Reason coverage.
Impact Travel Insurance vintage globe
Wherever you go, be sure to practice proper hygiene to protect your health and the health of others! Photo by NastyaSensei from Pexels.

Seven Corners

What’s Covered:

  • If your carrier cancels your flight due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a benefit up to $75 for the reissue fee charged by your airline under the Trip Cancellation clause of your Seven Corners plan.
  • The Cancel For Any Reason option on Seven Corners plans will pay up to 75% of your non-refundable fares if you choose to cancel your trip out of fear of traveling. See your individual policy for more details.
  • Trip delays and missed connections due to quarantine or carrier delays are covered under most plans. Trip interruptions due to quarantine are also covered.
  • Seven Corners will cover all medical expenses and medical evacuation costs if you contract COVID-19 during your trip.

What’s Not Covered:

  • Trip cancellation due to fear of the virus is only covered under Cancel For Any Reason plans.

AIG Travel Guard

What’s Covered:

  • If you contract COVID-19 before your trip, you are eligible for Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption benefits under AIG Travel Guard’s plans.
  • If you contract the virus while on your trip, AIG Travel Guard will cover any medical and trip interruption expenses.
  • If you are quarantined on your trip, you are also eligible for Trip Interruption coverage.
  • If you decide to rebook your trip for another time, you may be able to apply your current coverage to your future trip, but note that premiums may change depending on the details of your booking.

Qualifications For Coverage:

  • For any coverage due to illness, you must provide a doctor’s note or confirmed diagnosis from a physician.

What’s Not Covered:

  • Cancellations from carriers are not covered, and AIG encourages travelers to contact the carriers for refunds. Policyholders may be able to receive a refund on their premiums if their plans are canceled, though.
  • Fear of travel is also not covered under AIG plans unless you have purchased a Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
impact travel insurance globe
Let’s take a look at how this current situation will impact travel insurance. Photo via Artem Beliaikin/Pexels.

How Will The Current Pandemic Impact Travel Insurance For The Future?

So you have an idea of what coverage looks like right, but how will the current crisis impact travel insurance for future trips?

Industry changes are needed

Jacqueline Tucci, Communications and Marketing Specialist for the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT), notes that their team has been fielding inquiries from stranded travelers who are discovering the limitations of their travel insurance when it comes to pandemics. 

Tucci shares IAMAT’s wishes for the future of travel insurance, saying, “Insurance providers need to be better equipped to adapt to the unforeseen health emergencies that they are intended to provide coverage for. The industry needs to:

  • Provide assessments for coverage on a case-by-case basis.
  • Improve policy wording and accessibility.
  • Provide greater transparency around coverage.”

The future of travel insurance should mean deeper policy clarification

The good news is that some industry insiders do see insurers further clarifying their policies so that travelers really know what they’re signing up for before purchasing travel insurance.

“There may be a greater onus on travelers to understand their insurance coverage, plus Insurers will have an obligation to make sure what’s covered and what’s not is more clearly communicated, “says Phil Sylvester of PR and Corporate Affairs at World Nomads. “So I expect simply ticking a box that says you’ve read the terms and conditions will go. Perhaps a two- or three-step process where there are a few statements about coverage, or perhaps gamification of the agreement – answer yes/no to a couple of questions before the tick box appears.”

impact travel insurance
How Will The Current Pandemic Impact Travel Insurance? Photo via Rakicevic Nenad/Pexels.

Expect more choice — at a cost

Sylvester’s colleague, Christina Tunnah, Regional Manager of the Americas for World Nomads, adds, “I agree that insurance driving to low price has led to a commoditized product, leaving the traveler feeling they have purchased Champagne coverage with beer money.” 

Tunnah believes that products will be tweaked to include riders for different types crisis and catastrophic events as a bundle or as individual accretive riders — for example, paying a specific price to add a pandemics rider, another for natural disasters, another for terrorism, and so on.  

She continues, “Healthcare and travel insurance may even offer converged products to include repatriation home for an illness to get treatment and convalesce, then return overseas. By offering consumers more choice — albeit at a price — it will restore confidence in the products and insurers.”

Travelers may also see new travel insurance products being created

Travelers may also see completely new travel insurance products popping up. 

In fact, Sam Claassen, Head of Growth at SafetyWing, states that during this crisis their team has decided to focus more on their core nomad community.

He says, “The pandemic has left many in a uniquely difficult position during these travel lockdowns. Some landed in a location they now can’t leave. Others evacuated back to their home countries where they no longer have health insurance. That’s why on April 8th we are making our newest product, Remote Health, available to individuals.”

Originally SafetyWing launched this insurance product for companies and teams; however, after the CDC declared a level 3 travel warning across the globe, many pandemic exclusions were triggered in various insurance policies across the world, including SafetyWing’s own Nomad Insurance product.

Remote Health, on the other hand, has no such exclusion, allowing their company to naturally shift their resources to make this insurance policy available to individual nomads and expats who are now in need of full health insurance.

Explains Claassen, “For us, it seems one large effect has been a shift towards making more comprehensive insurance policies available to a wider range of people internationally. We have also been working on new products simply to meet the needs of the international community.

Flatten the Curve is a tool we came up with and built in a week when we realized there was no good collection of reliable and up to date information for travelers around the world to reference travel and social distancing restrictions. Building this interactive map tool has nothing to do with selling insurance. I think, and hope, we will see the travel industry as a whole continue to become more humane.”

How do you think the current pandemic will impact travel insurance — or even travel in general?

Pin this post on how the current crisis will impact travel insurance for later!

About Charlotte Dow

Charlotte Dow is an NYC-based writer and communications professional specializing in digital storytelling. She is a recent graduate of the M.S. in Public Relations & Corporate Communication program at NYU's School of Professional Studies.

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Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

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1 Comment

  1. Samuel on at 7:17 pm

    No one could have predicted this. Which is why insurance is needed. I’m sure travel insurance policies and the cost will not be the same after this pandemic is over.

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