Changes in Travel Insurance During COVID-19

As the world continues to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, the list of things that were adversely affected by the pandemic doesn’t end. People's restricted mobility is one of the most unfortunate consequences of the coronavirus. To this, travel insurance companies in India and across the world responded quickly to mitigate the crisis. Read on to learn how these travel insurance policies changed during the COVID-19 era.

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* Price shown is for a 15 day trip to UK with a 1 lakh dollar coverage for an adult of age 25 years

How Has Travel Insurance Changed During COVID-19?

When the news of the coronavirus first broke out, hardly anyone thought the consequences will be so far-reaching. By the first quarter of 2020, almost every country was under a lockdown or some type of travel restriction to curb the spread of the COVID-19. While people gasped for breath, there was another thing that people were affected by their travel plans.

Travelling for leisure was out of the equation; even travelling for essential tasks became a risk. Stepping outside the house was dangerous, let alone travelling in closed compartments among other unpredictable risks that would cause serious financial and mental stress on people.

Comes in the picture the insurance sector- all major insurers started offering COVID-19 appropriate coverage with their overseas travel insurance plans. Now, risks like border closures, threats of a new hotspot, and cancelled flights that would disrupt anyone's travel plans can be taken care of if you simply buy a travel insurance plan.

Let’s take a look at some of the major changes in travel insurance plans during COVID-19:

Increase in Travel Insurance Purchase

Firstly, people realized the importance of having a reliable financial backup in case things went south. Someone's plans could easily get cancelled if they tested positive, or their spouse or immediate family member tested positive. Furthermore, flights could be cancelled because of restrictions in another country, or people got stuck in a lockdown in another country and had to suffer because of unexpected financial expenses.

All these factors caused a significant demand for overseas travel insurance plans. Earlier these international insurance plans were compulsory for students, executives and tourists visiting foreign countries where possessing travel health insurance were compulsory. To insure their safety as well as of their loved ones, travel insurance became a much more popular way to reduce the financial burdens that came with these risks. More buyers now actively ask for COVID-19 benefits including coverage for treatment, isolation, and trip cancellation in case they get infected.

New Cancellation Policies

While most insurance companies were quick to cater to COVID-19 related benefits, reading the fine print is paramount. Your policy may claim to save you from COVID-19 related contingencies, but not all the claims are entertained.

For example, so many insurers offer cancellation due to the disease, but to claim these benefits the insured must first be tested positive for the virus. Just because there are fears of contracting the disease, people can't claim these cancellation benefits. Also, not all costs are refunded under the new cancellation policies. There may be some irrecoverable costs that won't be covered under trip curtailment.

Similarly, not all policies cover the costs of compulsory quarantine if you get infected abroad. There are some plans offering reimbursement if you're quarantined in a hospital or hotel, but not if you're isolated at home. While several countries have made it compulsory for tourists to buy travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage including mandatory quarantine, you should carefully read the policy terms. For an easy understanding of these terms, don’t forget to compare different plans on before buying a travel insurance policy.

COVID-19 Related Benefits

Because of uncertain rules and ever-changing travel rules of various countries and states, it has become difficult to travel for many people. Earlier, travel insurance plans focused on certain contingencies related to health and travel such as medical costs, flight cancellations, baggage loss etc. But now policies are being rolled out that cover several COVID-19 costs such as trip cancellation due to getting infected, hospitalisation costs, quarantine costs etc.

For example, if you, your travel companion or an immediate family member is diagnosed with COVID-19 before commencing their trip abroad then you will be reimbursed for all the unused as well as non-refundable booking costs that you made. Similarly, if you or your co-traveller gets infected during the trip then you will be reimbursed for trip interruption expenses. Some policies also offer an automatic extension in case your destination country imposes a lockdown. However, these benefits vary from insurer to insurer and you must be aware of what is offered.

Why Travel Insurance with COVID-19 Coverage is Essential?

It has been two years since the pandemic completely disrupted our daily lives. While the number of cases may vary from time to time, things are far from normal. Take a look at some of the most important reasons to buy a travel insurance policy during this COVID-19 Era:

Changing Rules

There is no saying when a state or country imposes travel restrictions on travellers. Especially in the case of Indian citizens, we may not always have the privilege of sufficient financial backup or belong to an affluent family. Add to this the fact that several countries but a travel ban on people coming from at-risk countries, something Indians suffered from until recently. Thus, if you must travel to another place, invest in an overseas travel insurance policy to avoid these financial burdens.

Flight Cancellations

While most countries have opened their borders and resumed international flight operations, we can never be sure about these circumstances. Sometimes, a connecting flight may be cancelled due to a lockdown and you may get stranded at the airport. Your policy will protect you from these additional expenses and losses.

Airline Operations

Due to the pandemic operations have been difficult for most industries, including airlines. Due to the competitive industry and internal issues, these companies are operating at minimal staff to mitigate losses. This may result in luggage loss or delay, missed connections etc. which can be only safeguarded by your insurer.

Over to You,

The whole world has been affected by the coronavirus, including things we took for granted. Travelling was once a pleasurable experience which has now become an often dreaded activity because of so many uncertainties. Travel insurance is one way to reduce that dread and burden. While we can’t do much about the virus, we must do our part to stop the spread while taking necessary precautions to restore normalcy.

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