You can’t blame travelers for being once bitten, twice shy when it comes to travel insurance during the pandemic. Last spring, many discovered that the insurance they paid for—to protect against unexpected medical issues, job losses, storms, terrorist attacks—did not cover COVID.
That’s because many travel insurance providers at the time considered COVID to be a “unforeseen event” that was outside the original scope of their policies. Ironically, once COVID was declared a pandemic, many insurers declared it a “foreseen event,” making it an uninsurable risk and therefore…outside the scope of their policies.
However, the industry reversed course and has started to offer COVID-specific coverage. Such coverage has been popping up as a searchable option on a few insurance comparison sites, and it looks like there’s demand, with the insurance site Squaremouth reporting that 33% of their users have searched for COVID travel coverage since March.
COVID-specific coverage includes:
- Trip delay or cancellation reimbursement
- Medical coverage if you and your travel companion get sick from COVID
- Trip cancellation due to changing work requirements or unexpected terminations
COVID-specific coverage will likely not cover:
- Any country with a Level 4 Travel Advisory
- Canceling a trip because you’re afraid or have anxiety
- Indirect COVID-related events that affect your plans (e.g., a cancelled conference)
A comparison-site search of policies reveals a price range of 4.1% to 5.4% of the total trip cost, which are typical travel insurance costs, according to Nerdwallet .
Read the small print
“Travel insurance is pitched as something simple, take it or leave it, but it’s a complex insurance policy and there’s all sorts of limitations,” says Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Center for Economic Justice. “You have to read 20 or 30 pages of policy to find out and understand what’s covered,” he recently told to the New York Times.
Peace of mind might be worth the price of pandemic coverage, but make sure you review your policy with a skeptical eye, as if your will trip be canceled or you might get sick. How exactly will you be reimbursed for expenses? What’s your provider’s specific definition of “trip cancelation”? If there’s any doubt, contact your insurer and ask them.