Travel, a booming sector that had its wings freely spread across the blue seas and skies, found them firmly clipped in 2020 with the COVID outbreak. The worldwide lockdown followed by recurring restrictions brought the ever-bustling travel sector to a standstill in no time. Not just the industry, even the travellers who had pre-booked trips or were already travelling, suffered the impact of these restrictions and widespread health hazards.
Two years later, travellers are now familiar with the drill before planning a trip. Incredibly cautious this time, they are ensuring that all safety measures are in place, which doesn’t just include vaccinations, masks, and sanitizers, but also travel insurance. Travel insurance has become a crucial safety shield for every traveller, amidst the uncertainty posed by recurrent COVID variants. With the Omicron variant aggravating the third wave, here’s everything you need to know about travel insurance.
Why Should Travel Insurance Be On Your Checklist?
Travelling amid the COVID outbreak is full of uncertainties. Travel insurance is the shield that safeguards people against any large expenses or losses associated with their travel. This mainly includes medical emergencies, theft of money, passport loss, flight cancellations, and lost luggage. Moreover, all travel insurance policies cover all variants of COVID, including Omicron, on domestic or international trips by treating them as any other medical emergency.
The extent of coverage and the conditions under which your insurance:
Trip Cancellation: Trip cancellation tops the list of reasons for wanting to opt for travel insurance. But you should be clear about the circumstances listed in your policy under which your trip cancellation will be covered. Generally, you will be insured against trip cancellations only for reasons that are beyond your control. These range from sudden and serious illness to the death of a family member to a natural calamity to flight cancellation, among others. Make sure you understand what you will be protected against as per your policy.
The chances of medical emergencies on a trip have grown tremendously after the outbreak of COVID. The insurance covers the cost of hospitalisation due to accidents and illnesses. Several plans also cover pre-existing diseases. If the insured experiences a medical emergency due to Omicron, the travel insurance will also compensate them for outpatient costs if they are affected by COVID and hospitalised during an international trip. However, the coverage will depend on the limit mentioned in the policy. Thus, even if you are fully vaccinated, having this cover will guard you against the medical expenses of the new variant.
Since quarantine rules are still mandatory in some countries, travellers are worried about covering this cost too. However, quarantine expenses are mostly covered only if they are associated with treatment at a medical facility. Most insurers will not cover your quarantine if it is precautionary or does not include treatment.
Baggage delays or, worse, losing it en route are a probability at all times. But this situation will only add to the stress of testing for COVID. So, if you have insured your check-in luggage against losses and delays, your travel insurance will provide you with monetary compensation in such a situation.
Factors to consider before buying travel insurance:
It is necessary to estimate an adequate amount you might require during the trip, as a policy with a higher sum insured will draw a higher premium. So, check medical benefits, coverage, and the claim amount you can get against it before selecting the amount.
Claims Process: The claims process and the claim settlement ratio are the key factors when buying travel insurance. So, a hassle-free, quick, and cashless process, preferably online, should be preferred.
Choose a company that has a higher claim settlement ratio.
What is not covered?
Cancellation due to fear or personal discomfort: Pandemic travel will also have uncertainties lingering and hesitancy until you board the flight. Thus, the claim may not be honoured if you alter your travel plans due to discomfort. The same will hold true if the government issues restrictions and guidelines against Omicron and you still decide to continue the trip. Another possibility when your travel insurance will not shield you is that after you reach your destination, the borders are closed to visitors because of the pandemic.
Pre-planned hospitalization: If you have a heart condition and want to have surgery abroad, your travel insurance will not cover the cost of such a pre-planned hospitalisation or treatment.Medical costs will only be covered if they are sudden and occur unexpectedly on your trip.
Travel is the best hideaway in this otherwise new norm of life 2.0, but it is still essential to weigh the severity of the variant before planning any trip. Also, protect yourself with a travel policy as it will safeguard you in many unforeseen cases. So, do a thorough search online and check various policies, claims, and settlement processes. Also, don’t forget to read the terms and conditions when buying online or offline, as you wouldn’t want to be caught with surprises during claim settlement. Lastly, don’t forget to opt for a credible company.
The author is head-health and travel insurance, Policybazaar.com
(Disclaimer: Views expressed are the authors own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.)