First of all, when purchasing a travel insurance policy, it is the responsibility of the traveler to read and understand all aspects of the policy.
When traveling in the age of COVID, travelers have these considerations in regards to the pandemic:
- Health: What happens if a traveler contracts COVID before or during an overseas trip?
- Protection of Investment: As noted, travelers can make a significant investment in a vacation. What can be done to protect the cost of a trip in case it is cancelled or interrupted due to COVID related issues?
- Quarantine: When traveling to most overseas destinations, in order to return to the United States or Canada, a traveler usually must take a COVID test within 48 or 72 hours before returning home. What happens if a traveler tests positive for COVID or is otherwise denied boarding because they are suspected of being infected?
To respond to these considerations:
- Health: Of upmost importance is for travelers to protect their health. These days it is important to purchase a travel insurance policy that specifically covers health care related to being treated for COVID while on a trip. It is also important to be covered for what is called emergency medical evacuation back home. Not only do many policies cover the transportation of the ill person back home, it provides coverage for family members to escort them if necessary. Medical evacuation can easily reach six-figures, so it is important to have this coverage.
- Protection of Investment: Next to traveler health, the protection of their investment in the trip is important. A policy with a COVID endorsement will most likely provide coverage if a traveler tests positive for COVID before on while on a trip and needs to cancel or interrupt their trip. It will probably also provide cancellation coverage is a traveler is denied boarding on a plane or entry to a country if they are suspected of being infected. Again, read the policy.
- Quarantine: An expensive proposition occurs when a traveler is on a trip, contracts or tests positive for COVID and is required to quarantine. The quarantine period may or may not extend the return date back home. Usually it is the responsibility of the traveler to cover the expenses (lodging, food, travel expenses) of a quarantine which may extend past the scheduled return date home. A policy with a COVID endorsement may provide coverage. And once again, read the policy to make sure this is covered.
It is important to look for a policy that specifically covers COVID related issues and has a COVID endorsement. Make sure any policy purchased has this.
Most policies will not provide COVID coverage if a traveler fears traveling contracting COVID or feels uncomfortable traveling because of COVID-related reasons. A traveler cannot say something like "I am afraid of traveling, so I want to cancel and be reimbursed by my travel insurance policy". In most cases, that would not be a covered reason under a travel insurance policy.
Most policies will not cover cancellation due to a government directive cancelling travel in general if it affects your trip. For instance, if there is a trip booked to France, then the government bans all travel to France for all persons, then the travelers trip is cancelled. This is not a covered reason for reimbursement under most travel insurance policies. However, if an individual traveler is forced to quarantine or not permitted to travel, this is usually covered under a travel insurance policy with a COVID endorsement.
It is always important that the purchaser of a travel insurance policy read it carefully and understand the details of the policy. Every policy is different and different insurance companies offer different options.
A travel insurance policy that travelers may be eligibile for a COVID endorsement can be found here: https://travelingprofessor.com/About/Travel-Insurance