by Brian O'Connell - InsuranceQuotes Analyst
COVID cases are trending upward again as the holiday season kicks off, and that could mean travel trouble for Americans looking to get away from late November to New Year’s Day. So, with COVID cases up and the holidays on the horizon, how should travelers handle their travel insurance this year?
Travel experts expect that holiday trips will decline compared to previous years – and significantly so. According to new research from Travelocity, approximately 60 percent of Americans say they “won’t be traveling” for the holidays.
Still, many holiday merry makers are planning to hit the travel circuit for either Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years, among other celebrations.
The Travelocity 2020 Holiday Outlook survey reports that about two-thirds of holiday enthusiasts have already booked transportation tickets and lodging through the end of the year. Another 20% say they’re waiting for the U.S. presidential election smoke to clear before they book.
What does this all mean? If you’re planning a holiday trip this year, travel experts advise taking some specific travel insurance precautions before hitting the friendly skies or the open road.
These travel insurance tips should be at the top of your travel “to do” list, so take a look at InsuranceQuote's top 7 COVID travel insurance tips for this holiday season.
Check Any Travel Barriers Beforehand
Before buying an insurance policy, check travel restrictions to the country or place of destination. “It’s important to know if there are travel bans or quarantines in place while planning the trip,” said Atilio Spaccarotella, founder of Rene, a consumer travel advisory platform.
Make sure your travel insurance policy covers COVID-19
Until recently most insurance companies excluded pandemics from their coverage. “Consequently, it's critical to find a plan that covers medical expenses that arises due to COVID as well as medical evacuation,” Spaccarotella said.
Don’t Go for the “Cancel for Any Reason” Route
Be careful about going overboard with too much travel insurance over the holidays.
“With most airlines offering cancelable tickets, and very flexible hotel cancel policies, you’ll rarely need to pursue a “cancel for any reason” insurance upgrade,” said Alex Miller, founder of UpgradedPoints.com, a travel site that provides analysis, data and reviews to travelers.
“Getting a cancel for any reason policy is simply unnecessary.”
Take Prudent Health Care Precautions
Holiday travelers should purchase travel medical insurance when traveling to somewhere outside the scope of their normal health insurance. “For example, going abroad is a great reason to purchase travel medical insurance,” Miller said.
Explore Short-term Travel Insurance Options
If you’re purchasing travel insurance during Thanksgiving and Christmas, short term policies can be a good idea, Miller noted. “Alternatively, try to purchase insurance that’s trip specific,” he said.
“This may be advisable if you may cancel and want your money back. Keep in mind, COVID usually isn’t covered under most travel insurance policies.”
Look into Risk Mitigation
Take a proactive travel insurance strategy safety plan and build an individual threat assessment plan before you leave – especially if you’re flying to a foreign country.
“An ITA includes 15 critical modules and sections that cover risk reduction, risk mitigation, and resources,” said Carrie Pasquarello, a travel advisory specialist with Global Secure Resources Inc.
“For example, do your best to touch as few surfaces as possible. But, don’t stress when you do, just have your plan in place to immediately use hand sanitizer afterward or wash your hands. Or, make sure to mask up and keep your distance from others.”
Another risk mitigation strategy from Pasquarello. “When planning a stay at a hotel you can call the hotel or email to learn about the hotel's measures to keep guests safe,” she said.
“Also, make sure to check out the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for hotel safety, especially with destination-specific COVID-19 information.
Consider Medical Evacuation Insurance
“Checking into medical evacuation insurance along with a supplemental addition from a medical emergency services provider can be invaluable in the event of a serious accident or illness away from home,” Pasquarello said.
“For example, a global air medical transport and travel security membership program for travelers with a provider like MedJet can be very helpful. One in 30 trips end in a medical emergency, and safety while traveling has become a growing concern.”
That’s important - according to Pasquarello, the top reason for injury and trauma during travel is trips and falls.
“You don’t want to get stuck in a hospital far from home,” she added. “Most travelers don't understand that travel medical evacuation insurance will usually cover the evacuation to a suitable hospital for treatment.”
Make sure to consider a few extra things before you pack your bags, because there are more options to protect your trip, and the near future contains many more unknowns than the usual flat tire on the way to the airport. You'll be glad you took the extra time to plan and get the right coverage.
Wherever you travel, and whatever you plan to do to get there, 2020 proves to add a couple of steps to the journey.