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While it’s always a good idea to get a comprehensive travel insurance policy for international travel, the Omicron variant makes travel insurance even more vital. Variant triggered new test protocols, border closures, travel advisories and quarantines, but the right travel insurance plan can give you financial protection for certain travel obstacles.
If you want the best backup for Covid-related issues, look for a comprehensive travel insurance plan that includes the following coverage:
- “Cancel for any reason”
- Medical expenses and medical evacuation
- Trip cancellation
- Travel delay
- Trip Interruption, including “interruption for any reason” coverage, if available
Here’s how travel insurance intersects covid testing issues, border closures, travel advisories and warnings, and quarantines.
Covid tests and travel insurance
The recent rise in Covid cases is leading to a shortage of Covid tests, delayed results and changes to testing rules for travellers. It’s important to know what your travel insurance covers if your trip is interrupted due to a failed test. Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider, has the following tips.
You cannot get a required Covid test or the results are not in time. Standard trip cancellation benefits will not cover a cancellation because you were unable to pass a Covid test within the required time frame before travelling. Travel insurance also won’t cover you if you weren’t able to get results in time for your flight and you can’t go.
Trip Cancellation Insurance can compensate you for prepaid, non-refundable expenses only if you cancel for a reason stated in the policy, and lack of a Covid test result is not an acceptable reason.
If your plan has medical coverage for Covid and you test positive before your trip, you can cancel and make an insurance claim for your lost deposits.
Another possible solution: If you have a “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) upgrade on your travel insurance plan, and you know you won’t have the Covid test results in time, you can cancel and make a claim under the CFAR. But be careful: you cannot make a last minute cancellation and use a CFAR advantage. Cancellation for any reason coverage requires you to cancel at least 48 hours prior to departure if you wish to make a claim.
Cancellation for any reason cover adds an average of 50% to the cost of travel insurance and typically reimburses you for 75% of what you lose in non-refundable deposits. You must purchase “cancellation for any reason” insurance within two to three weeks of your initial trip deposit, so if you are currently planning a trip, keep this purchase window in mind.
Cancellation of a trip due to a test. No one will blame you if you decide to cancel a trip because you find the testing protocols too much to handle. Be aware that standard trip cancellation insurance will not compensate you if you cancel because the tests are impractical. The “Cancellation for any reason” cover will cover you in this case, but only if you cancel at least two days before your departure.
Unacceptable test results. At-home Covid tests are generally not acceptable if your destination requires a Covid test. Most countries and airlines specify certain types of tests you must perform to comply with their guidelines. If you can’t go on a trip because you don’t have an approved test result, standard trip cancellation insurance won’t cover you. If you have ‘cancellation for any reason’ cover, you can use it in this case, provided you cancel at least 48 hours before the departure of your trip.
Positive test before departure. If you test positive for Covid before your trip and need to cancel, travel insurance will cover you if your plan includes Covid cancellation cover. These benefits often extend to fellow travelers and non-traveling family members who test positive, according to Squaremouth.
Positive test abroad. If you test positive during your trip, a travel insurance plan that includes Covid coverage can cover doctor and hospital costs, medications and lab work, up to the plan’s medical limits. Make sure your travel insurance plan includes Covid coverage when you buy it.
Does travel insurance cover border closures?
“Standard travel insurance policies do not include ‘border closures’ as a covered reason for canceling a trip,” says Squaremouth spokeswoman Megan Moncrief.
If your trip is scuttled due to a border closure, check to see if your travel provider is offering refunds or allowing you to change your travel dates.
There is also an insurance option in these cases: Upgrade your travel insurance plan to “cancel for any reason” coverage when you purchase it. With this add-on, you can get a partial refund if you cancel your trip for a reason not listed in the base policy. “Cancellation for any reason” cover gives you the widest possible latitude to make a cancellation request, including a border closure.
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Does travel insurance cover advisories and warnings?
There are a few policies that offer trip cancellation coverage if there’s a government-issued travel warning at your destination, Moncrief says. “This coverage isn’t necessarily mainstream, and the language varies widely between providers,” she says. “To be covered, the policy must be purchased before the warning issued by the government.”
For example, iTravelInsured’s Travel SE plan accepts government-issued advisories and warnings as grounds for trip cancellation. The policy states that it covers “a travel alert or travel warning for levels four (4) and above or, an evacuation order or travel ban is issued, for cities on your itinerary after your effective date for trip cancellation, to a destination specifically listed on your itinerary. Trip alert/warning, etc. must occur within thirty (30) days of the scheduled departure date.”
In this case, you could request a trip cancellation and be reimbursed for the prepaid and non-refundable travel expenses. The warning or alert must originate from the US Department of State.
If your basic policy does not cover travel warnings, the “cancel for any reason” cover would allow you to claim cancellation due to a travel warning or warning.
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Does travel insurance cover hotel quarantine costs?
You can get travel insurance for quarantines by buying a plan that includes Covid-related coverage. Additional expenses due to quarantine would be covered, such as the following.
Travel medical insurance can pay for emergency medical expenses while travelling. It can pay you for hospital and doctor’s bills and for medications, tests and labs, up to the policy’s coverage limit. Be sure to purchase a plan that includes Covid coverage for medical expenses.
Trip delay insurance may cover additional accommodation and meal costs during quarantine if you have contracted the virus. If you are forced to stay beyond your return date due to quarantine, this coverage can reimburse you for expenses up to one week after your original return date.
“Most travel insurance policies on Squaremouth.com cover contracting Covid-19 if a traveler is unable to return home for this reason, and most policies extend up to seven days beyond their scheduled return date,” said Moncrief.
“If a traveler were to use these benefits, they would have a daily benefit limit for additional accommodation costs,” Moncrief points out.
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Trip interruption insurance can reimburse you for missed portions of a trip if you are forced to self-quarantine due to a positive Covid test, for example, if you miss the departure of a non-refundable cruise. You would need documentation that you have contracted the virus in order to file a claim under standard trip interruption insurance.
However, there are a small number of fonts that offer an upgrade called “break for any reason”. This option is similar to “cancellation for any reason” coverage, but applies when you are already on your trip and need to cut it short or miss part of your itinerary. With “Interruption for Any Reason” coverage, you can file a claim for expenses that were pre-booked and you miss due to quarantine, whether or not you have contracted Covid. These expenses may include hotel rooms and excursions for which you had non-refundable deposits.
“It’s not a mainstream benefit, but it’s offered by Seven Corners, iTravelInsured, Travel Insured International and Nationwide,” Moncrief tells Squaremouth.
If you are interested in “interruption for any reason” coverage, be sure to check the rules. For example, you might be able to make a claim under IFAR only if your trip interruption begins 48 hours or more after your trip.
Positive Covid test required for quarantine coverage
Here are some important caveats about quarantine coverage:
- You must test positive for Covid and quarantine. Mandatory quarantines imposed simply because you arrive in a country are not covered.
- Only additional expenses are covered, such as a hotel stay that extends past your original departure date.
If you want to cancel your trip due to Covid concerns or don’t like a new quarantine restriction, you wouldn’t be covered by a standard trip cancellation policy. Again, ‘cancel for any reason’ cover would be your solution: you could make a ‘cancel for any reason’ claim because you don’t like the quarantine rules at your destination.