In response to travelers worldwide being impacted by COVID-19, travel insurance providers have already begun to make policy changes to address new concerns and the future of travel.
The travel insurance experts at Squaremouth.com spoke with ten leading travel insurance providers who revealed four ways travel insurance is evolving because of COVID-19, including:
- Adding benefits to address traveler concerns
- Extending coverage for contracting COVID-19
- Developing new policies geared towards domestic travelers
New Traveler Concerns are Top Priority for Providers
Before January 2020, pandemics and viruses were not common concerns for travelers, with only one provider on Squaremouth.com offering coverage for CDC alerts. Following the widespread impacts of COVID-19 on the travel industry, coverage for viral outbreaks may become more in demand. Providers are developing policies that will offer more coverage for some of the impacts of a future pandemic, such as travel warnings and CDC alerts.
“We want to be here for our customers should a future pandemic occur. We have launched new plans that include coverage for Level 4 Travel Warnings,” said Bailey Foster, Vice President of Trip Cancellation for Trawick International.
Providers Extend Coverage for Medical Concerns
In order for a traveler to have coverage for any event, they must purchase a travel insurance policy before the event occurs. Many travel insurance providers stopped covering losses related to COVID-19 as early as January 21, the date the first CDC alert was issued. However, some providers have extended coverage and are still offering cancellation and medical benefits relating to COVID-19 on new policies purchased.
“Contracting COVID-19, as well as being quarantined while traveling, is still something that can disrupt travel plans, and travelers could have coverage,” said Dean Sivley, President of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
As of May 28, 2020, travelers can purchase policies from six providers on Squaremouth.com that include cancellation coverage if they contract COVID-19 or are quarantined.
Future Trips May Require Different Benefits
According to data collected on Squaremouth.com, 40% of customers plan to travel domestically following COVID-19, compared to just 11% in previous years. In response to this new behavior, travel insurance providers are creating more products geared toward the domestic traveler, which includes trip cancellation coverage and low medical benefits.
“Most U.S. travelers can be covered by health insurance when traveling within the U.S., so they may need little to no medical coverage from their travel insurance,” said Jessica Burns, Vice President of Tin Leg. “Trip cancellation coverage will be the most important benefit for domestic travelers, as is can reimburse 100% of their non-refundable trip cost if they have to cancel for a covered reason.”
Cancel for Any Reason Coverage Will Remain Top of Mind
The Cancel for Any Reason upgrade became widely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, and remains the best option for future travelers with concerns not covered by a standard policy.
“Travelers want assurance that they can cancel a trip and get reimbursed if another unprecedented situation occurs to disrupt their travel plans,” said Jeremy Murchland, President of Seven Corners.