With borders opening up, airlines and cruise operators planning new routes and itineraries, and hotel groups putting social distancing and hygiene measures in place ready to receive guests once more, travel insurers are starting to offer cover for Covid-19 to give travellers the reassurance they’re looking for when it comes to protecting their health and their trip.
Although ‘staycations’ may be the preferred holiday of choice for many this year, there is still a vast amount of people who want – or need – to venture abroad, whether for business or pleasure, and travel insurers are stepping up to meet their needs in terms of pandemic coverage – whether their trip is domestic or international.
Saga, the UK-based specialist insurer for the over-50s market, began to include cover for treatment needed abroad related to Covid-19 and repatriation to the UK as standard on its travel insurance policies for all trips from 1 June. The insurance provider, which recently revealed it had refunded £44 million (US$54 million) of advance payments to customers whose travel was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, has said that these changes have been introduced to provide customers with much-needed certainty about their policies and future travel plans as the UK eases out of lockdown. Saga asserts this is also a response to increased customer demand for suitable cover – 74 per cent of Saga customers (all aged 50+) said that they would be unlikely to take out travel insurance if it didn’t cover Covid-19 risks.
Similarly, the UK’s Post Office has restarted sales of travel insurance policies, which now include cover for Covid-19. Paul Paddock, Head of Travel Insurance at the Post Office, said: “We look forward to welcoming back our customers and protecting them and their upcoming travel plans, when it’s safe to travel. It’s likely that coronavirus will be with us for some time. By including medical cover now, we are able to support our customers for the foreseeable future.”
Also in the UK, travel insurer AllClear, which specialises in cover for older travellers and those with pre-existing medical conditions, has said it will back-date cover for medical expenses related to Covid-19 to 13 March, when the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. It has also rolled out a raft of cover enhancements for the virus, including medical emergency expenses, repatriation costs, £2,000 towards the cost of a relative staying with a recuperating Covid-19 patient, costs relating to recuperation in resort, and flights home when it is deemed safe to return to the UK. Furthermore, the company is looking to extend its cover to include cancellation costs related to Covid-19.
Seven Corners, in the US, has launched Liaison Travel Plus, a policy that is designed to protect travellers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, the company now offers ARMOR, a policy which acknowledges that road trips will likely increase as places start to open back up after the pandemic. As such, ARMOR, as an annual subscription benefit which can be applied to any road trip plans for 365 days from activation, provides benefits such as returning a passenger, motorcycle, car or RV, telemedicine benefits and returning a pet during road trips.
Also in the US, VisitorsCoverage has announced that it is to cover public emergency health screenings in the US through its new CoverAmerica Gold policy by International Medical Group (IMG). The new plan is available to non-US citizens for up to 365 days and offers no-fee cancellation for policyholders unable to embark on their travels or who need to interrupt their US visit prior to their policy’s end date. Medical treatment services are provided for up to 365 days by UnitedHealthcare’s preferred provider network (PPO) in all 50 US states and offers a standard benefit for acute onset of pre-existing conditions.
“Travellers visiting the US are well aware that there is no universal healthcare system available and that US medical treatment costs are some of the highest in the world,” says Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO and founder of VisitorsCoverage. “With uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus, in partnering with IMG for our new CoverAmerica Gold plan, we will be able to offer high-quality healthcare through unprecedented access to the top PPO network, providing reassurance, reliability and peace of mind to US visitors for up to a year.”
Travel insurance brands CoverForYou, Cedar Tree and Outbacker, which are part of the Worldwide Internet Insurance Services group, based in Gibraltar, have also added Covid-19 cancellation terms to their standard policies. The brands said the move ‘fills a much-needed gap in insurance for Brits determined to go on their summer holiday’. The cover will be applied to all existing and new policies and covers annual multi-trip and single-trip policies.
Neil Wright, Founder and Managing Director of the three insurance brands, said: “The expanded Covid cover is designed to give people additional peace of mind and make clear the levels of cover in place for specific incidents we’ve seen emerging which may affect them before and during travel.”
In Spain, travel insurance and assistance provider InterMundial Assistance has adapted its travel insurance offering to cover Covid-19-related assistance requirements too. The insurer feels that this new offering will give its customers peace of mind when travelling in the current climate. Policyholders are now covered should they need to cancel their trip due to contracting Covid-19, or if a family member dies due to Covid-19. Insureds are also guaranteed medical assistance should Covid-19 break out at their specified destination.
International SOS in Spain, as well as local insurer ARAG, have, similarly, launched Covid-19-related cover. Both offer assistance to leisure travellers taking part in inter-provincial trips, while the ARAG Special Stays policy also covers day trips to Portugal, France and Andorra.
Elsewhere, Europ Assistance has launched its Covid-19 Protection product, which includes ‘the majority of its core services into one solution to help those dealing with the current pandemic’. The product includes: a dedicated medical assistance hotline, telemedicine services, a ‘Hospital Stay Inconvenience Payment’, transportation following discharge to the patient’s primary residence and assistance services for up to 14 days post-hospitalisation. The Covid-19 Protection product has so far been rolled out in France, Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, and the US, with plans for a continued global rollout.
With companies around the world increasingly adding cover for Covid-19, keep an eye on ITIJ.com for all the latest new product announcements.