Coronavirus: Which Travel Insurance?

Coronavirus: Which Travel Insurance?

For Travel During the Coronavirus, Which Travel Insurance is Best? We always recommend that TravelSort Clients protect their trip investment with travel insurance. Now, with COVID-19 concerns, travel insurance has become even more important.

A few airlines have aimed to boost sales by providing coronavirus travel insurance to their passengers; Emirates was first with free COVID-19 travel insurance, but so far it only covers travel where the first Emirates flight is taken by 10/31/20. Etihad's free coronavirus insurance covers passengers on Etihad flights through 12/31/20. Virgin Atlantic coronavirus insurance only applies in destinations that are exempt from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice to avoid non-essential travel, for travel until 3/31/21.

Some clients with premium AMEX or Chase credit cards wonder if they still need third party insurance, given the good Chase Sapphire Reserve trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, primary car rental collision damage insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and other travel benefits. In our view, this isn't enough, and we highly recommend supplementing the rather paltry CSR Emergency Medical insurance.

We'll address several of the most common questions we're asked about protecting against coronavirus-related travel issues:

Will Any Travel Insurance Allow Me to Cancel My Trip Due to Coronavirus-Related Border Closures, Self-Quarantine Requirements, New Testing Requirements, Etc.?

While none of the top travel insurance providers we're aware of will allow a traveler to cancel specifically for the above reasons, it is possible to obtain Cancel for Any Reason or Cancel Anytime insurance from certain companies that permit you to change your mind. Because COVID-19 is now a known event, you wouldn't be able to state a COVID-19-related reason, but you could simply assert that you've changed your mind about traveling to the destination.


Haven't Insurers Discontinued Their Cancel for Any Reason Insurance?

Some have, and most have reduced it. For example, TravelEx has stopped offering its Cancel for Any Reason upgrade as of 3/18/20, and TravelGuard (AIG) has reduced the payout to 50% of non-refundable trip costs. For this reason, our top recommendation for this type of coverage is now Allianz, which offers “Cancel Anytime” insurance that is subject to certain exclusions. It pays 80% of the non-refundable trip costs.


When Must Cancel for Any Reason / Cancel Anytime Insurance Be Purchased?

Previously, CFAR coverage was available as an upgrade to select plans if purchased within 15 days of the initial trip deposit. That said, due to the high demand for this type of coverage (in the case of Allianz, it went from ~6% of their U.S. purchased plans to >40%) Allianz now only offers it on the same day that the initial trip deposit is made. Bottom line: if this type of coverage is important to you, make sure to buy it the same day you book the first part of the trip you want insured.


Which Travel Insurance Will Cover COVID-19 Medical Care If I Become Infected While Traveling?

In addition to the Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic coronavirus travel insurance for their respective passengers, many travel insurance policies will cover COVID-19 medical care if you become ill during your trip. Check your policy, paying particular attention to the emergency medical care section and whether the policy's medical insurance is primary or secondary.


Why It's Important to Have Primary Medical Care Coverage

Some travel insurance policies' medical insurance is only secondary or supplemental to any other insurance you have. This is the case with the Chase Sapphire Reserve coverage of $2500, which specifically states that it covers “only the medical expenses that are not covered by your medical insurance, and is supplemental to and in excess of any valid and collectible insurance or reimbursement.”

In contrast, the Allianz travel insurance that we recently purchased for New York clients provides up to $25,000 in emergency medical insurance per person, up to $500,000 emergency medical transportation per person, and is primary coverage, meaning that the clients do NOT need to first seek reimbursement from their own medical insurance (which these days usually comes with a significant deductible).


The Upshot

If you're not already getting coronavirus travel insurance via Emirates, Etihad or Virgin Atlantic, and/or additional coverage is needed, our top travel insurance recommendation is Allianz, with its Cancel Anytime option that pays 80% of qualifying non-refundable costs (only available on the first day you book any of the travel arrangements for your trip). Since Allianz offers different plans that can vary by locale, be sure that the one you're considering has sufficient emergency medical care coverage for your needs, and that the emergency medical insurance is primary.

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