What you need to know about travel insurance amid Coronavirus

What you need to know about travel insurance amid Coronavirus

The pandemic has given rise to a new phenomenon. Countries are seeking to protect their own national healthcare systems from the potential financial effects of tending to travellers who become ill with COVID-19 while abroad and don’t have coverage to pay for their treatment.

Tourists should be aware of the coverage included in their existing health policies. Additionally, due to the pandemic, any existing international coverage that may be included in your current health plan can be voided just by traveling to a COVID-affected region. Of course, you’ll only learn about this exclusion if you read the very fine print.

Many Schengen member states are already requiring arrivals to present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test at the airport, or to take a test or retest (at their own cost) once they touch down, and then quarantine themselves while awaiting the results.

Before you travel, make sure that you have travel insurance with comprehensive coverage. Schengen states like Portugal and Spain (only for the Canary Islands) are offering free insurance in an attempt to lure more tourists.

For countries that don't yet offer free insurance, we at IaM place our trust on Axa Travel Insurance when we arrange applications for our clients. Their insurance covers the following:

  • if any person on the policy contracts COVID-19 in the two weeks prior to the trip
  • any fees or charges for necessary and emergency treatment, including emergency medical expenses and additional travel, accommodation and repatriation costs deemed medically necessary
  • hospital benefit, if hospitalised abroad with COVID-19

Be sure to check their FAQs to know the conditions of the coverage, as well as what the insurance policy does not cover.

Travel Insurance vs Health Insurance

Whether you are going away for a weekend trip or moving to a continent across the other side of the globe you need to prepare for how you will be looked after in the event that you need medical attention or if your cancelled flight will be covered.

Travel insurance is designed for holidaymakers to cover cancellations, personal belongings and emergency medical treatment.

International health insurance is designed to cover inpatient treatment check-ups and continuing treatment of chronic conditions abroad.

Schengen Visa Insurance Requirements

Non-EU nationals in the UK who require a Schengen visa to travel to the rest of the Schengen states need medical insurance to apply for a Schengen visa. It must meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum coverage of at least 30,000 EUR (equivalent to 34,000 USD).
  • It should cover all member states of the Schengen Area.
  • Cover any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent health attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death.

Prior to your trip, you should be aware of the possible ways things would go the other way than what you have planned. Sudden closure of borders are things you have no control over, but you should know to be informed on things you have control.

Do travel insurance companies cover trip cancellation or disruption due to COVID-19?

While most companies issuing travel insurance during COVID-19 will cover urgent medical care and repatriation, it’s unlikely that they’ll cover other COVID-related issues such as flight or hotel cancellations. For flight cancellations due to the pandemic, you can contact your airline to reschedule or request a refund. 

While it may not be as easy as it once was, finding comprehensive travel insurance is still possible during COVID-19. 

Do travel insurance companies cover pandemics?

There are still some firms that are covering medical expenses for COVID-19-related incidents while on holiday, provided that the destination isn’t on non-essential travel advisories before departure. Contact your insurance provider to be certain.

What if the UK government advises against travel to my destination after I’ve arrived? Will my insurance policy become invalid?

If a government removes a destination from its travel corridor list while you’re on holiday (and you bought the insurance before departing), your policy should still stand. Check with your provider before taking out the insurance and only go for a company that is prepared to offer cover in this situation.

If I want to cancel my trip because of COVID-19, should my insurance company cover the costs?

If you knowingly booked a holiday to a destination that was under government non-essential travel advisories and just changed your mind. In that case, it’s unlikely that your insurance will cover you. However, if a last-minute change in government advice forces you to cancel your holiday, then you may be able to claim. It would be best to contact your insurance provider directly.

Will my insurance still be valid if I have to quarantine while abroad?

If you’re forced to extend your stay due to reasons out of your control some companies will automatically extend your policy and cover any additional costs of your stay. Still, not all insurance companies do this, so it’s best to check your policy’s disruption cover in detail.

How do I choose the right insurance?

What do you need during your trip?

Do you want to travel to a country on a “no-go” list? Do you need an insurance company that covers people over 65? These questions will help guide you as to which kind of policy you need and help refine your search.

Read the insurance policy and online reviews

Read the fine print. Once you’ve identified your insurance needs, dig deep into each policy to see whether it covers every base. You can contact the company and pose your questions directly to a representative. Reading up on recent customer reviews can also help establish whether the company delivers on its policy.

Comprehensive disruption cover is key

Most insurance companies will cover medical emergencies, but the best policies have comprehensive disruption cover. This means that the insurance firm won’t just help you if you get sick, but they’ll also be able to reimburse you for delays, enforced stays, or a missed departure.


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