Traveling, especially foreign travel, may come with a whole new set of requirements as some countries want travelers to have special insurance to help deal with sudden sickness during the pandemic.
NBC 5 Responds takes a fresh look at travel insurance and why it may be well worth the added expense.
Vanita Jennings planned a weekend birthday getaway to Chicago with her fiancé, but the worst happened: he had a stroke the day they were set to leave.
“Obviously, I had no time to cancel. We just did not make the trip at all,” said Jennings.
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But the Caddo Mills resident had purchased travel insurance and got all of her money back.
“I think like a week or less, I was refunded all the money,” said Jennings.
Jennings had a good experience and says she wouldn't hesitate to buy a policy to insure against COVID-19 for her next trip.
The policy she had also included pandemic-specific language. Since last year travel insurance providers have jumped to offer options to cover COVID-19 specific issues, as travelers faced trip cancellations, quarantines, border closures and more.
"Many policies will now cover COVID as an unforeseen illness, both prior to departure where quarantine, if you did happen to test positive and you had to quarantine prior to your trip, that would also be covered and policies cover now medical coverage and quarantine cost some as high as $2,000 per traveler, and that will cover you for 14 days at about $150 to $200 a day,” said InsureMyTrip agent, Kathy Kimmel.
Coverage could also include:
Emergency Medical Coverage: if a sick traveler has to see a doctor or go to the hospital during a trip.
Medical evacuation coverage: or when a sick traveler requires an emergency medical evacuation to the nearest appropriate hospital or back home
Trip interruption: is when an extremely sick traveler cannot continue with a trip, and has to return home.
Cancel for any reason: which gives you the option to cancel and get some reimbursement no matter what – it’s more expensive, but will also cover fear of travel which could apply, if suddenly covid is raging at your destination and you are afraid to go. But not all travelers qualify.
“I would say average, maybe a family of four, depending on how much your trip cost is, maybe around $200, give or take, if you just wanted the coverage itself. We have a plan that probably would give you not covering trip cost, maybe around $50 to $70. Depends on the age of the traveler, how long you're going for,” said Kimmel.
Some countries now require medical coverage for entry.
"And usually there is a medical minimum I've seen where, for instance, Costa Rica has a $50,000 medical minimum and $2,000 for 14 days worth of quarantine,” said Kimmel.
Julie Chaump a Dallas travel advisor with Strong Travel Services said she wouldn’t let any of her clients travel without this COVID-specific travel insurance right now.
“Now we've got this new layer of complexity with COVID-19. And it's not just about cancelation and protecting your investment anymore -- it's covering you while you're on your trip,” said Chaump.
Jennings paid just $34 to protect her trip. She used Allianz travel insurance which tells NBC 5 Responds they’ve seen an increase of about 15% with consumers adding travel insurance to their vacations.
“Purchase the insurance because you never know what's going to happen,” said Jennings.
Right now the CDC’s website lists more than 60 countries the agency specifically says you should avoid visiting right now, because of COVID-19.
If you go to any of those places, your trip may not be covered because technically you've been warned.
You can work with a travel agent or an insurance marketplace, but as always, read the plan details carefully before purchasing so you understand under which circumstances you are covered, and when you are not.
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