When it comes to protecting your travel plans, it can be confusing to know what you are covered and can claim for in the midst of a pandemic. Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 insurance.
As you count down to your long-postponed holiday, get ready to fly off — but don’t forget to include buying travel insurance among your to-do list. This is particularly important, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel insurance may be an added cost, but it also offers an extra layer of protection. Epidemics were traditionally exempted by insurers, but this changed with the current pandemic.
Many insurance providers these days offer COVID-19 protection, but take note that the extent of coverage varies. Policies may include coverage should you catch COVID before you travel, after booking, or while travelling, plus related clinical assistance, medical transport, and advisory services to help navigate the situation. Some policies, however, only take care of medical and repatriation costs if you contract COVID-19 overseas, while others provide limited cover for cancellation costs.Travel insurance is best purchased at the time you book your trip; that’s when you have the opportunity to avail yourself of the widest range of benefits. However, note that some insurers have cooling off periods for COVID-19 cancellation cover. Some insurers only book cancellation if you test positive for COVID and the insurance policy was booked more than 21 days before your scheduled departure date, so do check the terms and conditions of your insurer prior to your purchase.
Travel restrictions and border policies are also constantly changing. As such, experts advise that it’s important to work with a travel agent who knows the ins and outs of COVID-19 requirements. If you’d prefer to buy it yourself, make sure you read the fine print.
Never put yourself in the situation where you assume something is covered, only to discover it’s not when you make a claim! And before you plonk your money on a policy, experts recommend that you check your existing policies to see what you are already covered for. Once you know where you are vulnerable, you can purchase a travel insurance policy that plugs the gaps.
Some policies can also include a ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ clause. This would allow you to claim some of your non-refundable costs if you decide not to go on a trip for any reason, including border closures or increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country you are intending to visit. However, this type of insurance must be purchased within a few weeks of booking a trip and will only pay 50–75 % of non-refundable costs.
Do note that some destinations will require you to purchase travel insurance while others only recommend it. Check which it is before you buy your ticket. Also, consider what it would take to get home for treatment should you contract COVID-19 abroad and get the appropriate coverage.