A guide to travel insurance COVID-19 cover

With ever-increasing media output indicating an return to travel is starting to look like reality most people will be focused on airline schedules and prices followed by destination countries covid rules. BUT, as we have stated in many past articles if you are travelling internationally there is the question of travel insurance and how will this relate to Covid-19 implications.

In the past the mantra – if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel – only reached a percentage of ears. Those that did not insure in the past and had problems, paid for it big time! Now, with covid implications you should not venture overseas without insurance cover. Some airlines are offering a covid insurance policy within their ticket prices, BUT read the small print! This is a good start, but if something major happens you have areas where you are not covered and in some circumstances not enough cover.

Another important consideration. Before this covid-19 outbreak many countries had and were, implementing rules that you must have valid travel insurance to receive a visa. This is rapidly increasing – why? Various countries do not want the added financial burden on their health services if you became incapacitated.

Travel insurance hasn’t really been top of mind for many of us for the last year or so. But as we prepare to rejoin the world and the uncertainties that come with travelling in the age of COVID-19, we need to ensure we’re covered on the road.

Pre-COVID, you probably wouldn’t think twice about accepting a travel insurance policy that didn’t cover pandemics and epidemics; most policies didn’t.  But as the poor folk travelling when COVID-19 struck can attest, it can hit your wallet hard if you’re stuck without that insurance safety net, the ABC reported.  Insurance companies have started offering COVID-19 travel policies, but there’s a catch.

While COVID-19 cover, depending on the policy you choose, could cover things like hospital bills and associated costs of having to isolate for you and your travel companions, they are unlikely to cover the fallout of border closures. “It is impossible for insurers to price the risk associated with border closures and travel bans,” a spokesperson from the Insurance Council of Australia told the ABC. But according to Jodi Bird from consumer advocacy group CHOICE, there could be other ways for you to protect your money if your trip is impacted by border closures. “The main way to make sure that you’re covered due to border closures is up front make sure that you’re booking flexible bookings … only book for those flexible accommodation locations,” he said. “If you have to cancel, ask the actual provider if you can get your money back — a refund or a credit. If there’s no remedy there, then the next stage is essentially to raise it … with your state consumer affairs body.”

While Bird said that it would be hard to predict how expensive COVID cover could be, he did warn that given the fall in insurers offering travel insurance, “consumers might have to pay more”.  But “the more you pay, the more you’ll be covered for,” he said.

A survey by comparison site Mozo found more than half of Australians are ready to pack their bags and embark on an international adventure in the next 12 months. Over two thirds (69%) of  these will be on the hunt for travel insurance policies that are inclusive of COVID cover.  “It’s clear travel insurance providers will be pedalling hard to offer consumers some level of cover as the pandemic continues to create challenges for the travel industry around the globe,” a Mozo spokesperson said.

We are sure that the following two new travel medical complaints will not be covered by any policy.

“Staycationitis, inflammation usually caused by excessive staycationing (i.e. staycationrrhage) or not being able to travel abroad.”

“Travelopenia, a chronic holiday deficit.”

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