It has been over a year since we have been reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is wreaking havoc in almost all parts of the world. What once was a well-connected global community is now worried about travelling overseas. Safety measures, precautions against the spread of the virus, airlines guidelines, mandatory self-quarantine for recent travellers, visa issues and more have not only made it difficult for travellers but have also hit the travel industry adversely. Besides the virus exposure risk for those operating in the travel sector, revised government guidelines and international travel standards are making it difficult for the industry to survive. However, one thing that can surely help travellers in such times is a valid travel insurance policy with good coverage.
Recently, many companies have made it essential for travellers to remain covered with a multi-trip travel insurance cover before applying for a visa. But how does travel insurance help? Does it include curtailment due to COVID-19? What does travel insurance take care of? These are a few questions that arise with the thought of investing in travel insurance. Here are the answers:
How Does Travel Insurance Work?
A travel insurance policy protects from unexpected events such as loss of luggage or other belongings, or any medical emergency. By paying a small premium every year, travellers can protect themselves and their expensive belongings in case of such mishaps.
There are different types of travel insurance covers available in the market. While some are all-inclusive such as cover against cancellation, delays, missed connections and deteriorated health, some cover only health and belongings-related issues. Therefore, it is best to know your needs before purchasing a travel insurance policy.
If you are on a detailed travel plan such as a business trip or vacation, you can purchase an additional policy that covers your personal belongings in case they are lost or stolen. For that, you should purchase a separate cover from your basic travel policy. This extra coverage will cost you extra but it could be well worth it, especially if you travel frequently. Knowing how travel insurance works is the key to choosing the right insurance for your travel plans.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
A travel insurance policy usually covers a wide range of your travel-related needs. What your policy covers solely depends on the nature of the policy you opt for. In case of an emergency, while some policies will take care of everything, some may cover only specific aspects of the situation. Therefore, be clear of what you need and expect the policy to cover before purchasing one; make sure to read the fine print including what is covered and what is not and do not assume anything. Check with the insurer in case of doubts. For example, some policies may cover the cost of medical evacuation from your destination but may not compensate for your luggage. So, read the fine print properly before getting travel insurance.
Some things that most travel insurance usually cover include:
- Refund for Trip Cancellation
One thing that your travel insurance takes care of is trip cancellation. Depending on the policy type, you get a full or partial refund for an already booked trip that is cancelled irrespective of the reason. Therefore, you must read all details of the policy before signing it. If the cancellation policy states, "We cannot help you if you cancel your trip," then it is better you find out why. Usually, there are other ways to get the money refunded such as by taking a special trip that includes a refund of airfare or a similar package.
- Emergency Medical Treatment Cost
If you come across a medical emergency or some other catastrophic event while you are travelling, then travel insurance will cover the emergency medical treatment cost abroad. The good news is that travel insurance covers the same no matter where you are in the world. When it comes to emergency travel insurance, there are many different types of policies that can be taken. Most travel insurance covers the cost of treatment in the country you are travelling to for a certain period that is usually 30 days. It is very important to read through the policy carefully to understand the policy inclusions and exclusions.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation Cost
Another aspect of travel insurance is the cost of any evacuation assistance that is required. Evacuation is defined as 'the transfer, direct or indirect, by any means necessary, of a person from a place of emergency to a place of safety.' So, if you face an emergency health issue and you need to be transferred to the nearest treatment location through air-way or ambulance then your travel insurance will help you to get to the hospital in time while covering all the related expenses. Some policies cover the cost of travel assistance such as taxis, guides, translators and others that might be needed to get to the medical treatment facility.
- The Cost of Flight Delay
Many travel insurance policies cover the cost of flight delay and other possible misfortunes during the trip. Travel insurance offers financial protection in case your trip gets delayed or cancelled, thus giving you enough time to get on with the change in plans. Travel insurance packages usually have several different aspects such as luggage theft insurance, emergency travel assistance and the cost of return airfare if the flight is delayed or cancelled.
Scenarios such as Curtailment or Cancellation Due to COVID-19
What your travel insurance covers depend on the range of coverage you seek and the premium you are willing to pay. You may have opted for multi-trip travel insurance or student travel insurance, but what it means in situations such as cancellation or curtailment due to COVID-19 is not clear to many people. Here is how travel insurance can help in such scenarios:
- Unexpected Lockdown or Curfew
In the present scenario, countries announcing immediate lockdowns and cancellation of flights are becoming common. Today, it is possible that when you are abroad, the host government may announce an unexpected lockdown or curfew, resulting in the cancellation of your flight. In such a case, you are simply a circumstantial victim and your travel insurance company can help you by covering for your delayed or cancelled flight.
- If You're Found COVID Positive
It is possible to be caught by the coronavirus while travelling overseas. In case you are found to be COVID positive, a valid travel insurance cover can help in availing of medical emergency services without worrying about the heavy expenses. All the medical covers you have opted for will prove to be of great help in such a situation.
With a raging global pandemic in place, anything can happen to anyone while travelling. So, make sure you wear masks, practice social distancing, frequently use sanitisers and try to go contactless to minimise the spread. And if you are a frequent traveller, ensure you are covered by good travel insurance at all times.