Travel insurance post-COVID (Photo: Envato)
So, you finally booked your vacation after two years at home or close to home. You booked your tickets and accommodations. You have been working on your itinerary. Did you purchase travel insurance?
One of the main lessons COVID has taught travelers is to seriously consider purchasing travel insurance. Winter vacations, kosher cruises, Passover programs and Sukkot programs can be expensive. Before COVID, very few people took out travel insurance. People would spend thousands of dollars on programs, cruises and vacations It was very unusual for programs to cancel so people didn’t worry about it too much. It was always advisable to book through a credit card but that only provided very limited coverage.
Travel insurance is no longer a luxury but a necessity that you can no longer ignore, at least a basic policy. Add travel insurance to your vacation “to do” list under tickets and hotel. It is best to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your summer vacation, Passover program or Sukkot program.
Post-COVID travel insurance industry
Most people didn’t think about buying travel insurance before the COVID pandemic. In hindsight, it doesn’t really make sense that people would invest so much money in their vacation without taking out insurance. Even before COVID, anything could have happened then would require a trip be canceled. Many people were “burned” and lost money when they had to cancel vacations when the skies closed and travel shut down completely. When travel resumed, most people bought COVID insurance when they booked their tickets. Some countries, such as Israel, would not allow anyone into the country without an insurance policy that specified coverage for COVID related issues. Countries did not want to incur the medical costs of tourists infected with COVID.
Pros and cons of travel insurane (Photo: Envato)
The travel insurance industry has grown exponentially over the past two years as many travelers are purchasing insurance. Most travel agents and Passover program operators recommend that all guests purchase travel insurance. Nobody wants a repeat of what happened when COVID shut the skies and flights were canceled. The world seems to have learned to live with COVID but it’s best to be prepared for the unknown. Vacations, organized tours and Passover programs aren’t cheap. People who go on luxury Passover programs and pay to bring the extended family spend more than some people spend on a car. Nobody buys a car without taking out car insurance (It’s the law but you get the point).
What to look for in travel insurance
Even before COVID, many travelers purchased medical coverage in case they got ill while on vacation. Nobody can predict what might happen in the future, as we have all been painfully reminded over the past two years. It’s best to plan for all contingencies. Anything can happen at any time which could result in hospitalization in a foreign country. If you don’t have any medical travel insurance then you could end up with a bill running in the tens of thousands of dollars. These day, you might need to specify medical coverage for COVID related illnesses, which is not always included in the medical travel insurance.
Travel insurane policy coverage and options (Photo: Envato)
There are many options to consider when purchasing a travel insurance policy. Some are more relevant than others depending on what you are bringing with you and what you are doing on your vacation. If you have a very expensive camera, phone or laptop then you might want to purchase the extra coverage specifically for electronics. If you are planning on doing extreme sports then you need to add that coverage to your policy. Most policies cover flight delays, cancellation due to illness or death, lost luggage and some emergency medical costs but do not cover extreme sports and search and rescue. It is very important to read the fine print to clarify what is covered and what is excluded from the policy.
Some policies specifically exclude COVID so you need to be sure to purchase COVID insurance and any other Pandemic or equivalent risk. Both for medical and flight changes or cancellation. If you cannot fly because you get COVID then you want to be covered. You need to be sure that you are covered if you get COVID while on vacation and need to stay longer. The policy should cover hotel, medical expenses and costs to change flights to return home.
Cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage
Standard travel insurance that covers trip cancellation doesn’t cover the fear of getting sick. You might have the perfect vacation planned when a COVID variant pops up that makes you too nervous to get on the plane and you want to cancel your trip. There are policies that will cover this but you need to add it to the policy. Many travel insurance agents and Passover program operators will recommend getting “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage. This doesn’t reimburse 100% of the costs of your vacation but it’s definitely the best option that allows you to cancel for reasons not specified in the standard travel insurance contract. CFAR coverage allows you to cancel your trip for any reason, up to 48 hours before departure and get reimbursed up to 75% of your non-refundable trip costs. CFAR cannot be bought as a separate policy on it’s own. CFAR is only available to purchase as an upgrade to a standard travel insurance plan. CFAR coverage is expensive so be sure to weigh all of your options.
Read the fine print of travel insurance policies (Photo: Envato)
Possible Disadvantages of Travel Insurance
Travel medical insurance is always worthwhile to purchase. The basic policies are not very expensive and any stay in the hospital can end up being very expensive. Even if you are going on a short trip, it is definitely a must. While travel insurance offers peace of mind, it might not be relevant to everyone. Travel insurance is expensive, especially the CFAR coverage and can cost up to 10% of your trip. If you are going on a very expensive trip, such as a Passover Program, then it should be seriously considered and is probably worthwhile. For less expensive vacations, it might not be worth it. There are many factors that can influence the price of the insurance, such as age, pre-existing conditions and length of the trip ,to name a few. Most policies do not cover pre-existing conditions which might be a factor for some people. All travel insurance plans have loopholes and claims can get rejected. It is important to research and figure out what is best for you.
Many people are booking their winter vacation and Pesach programs or have already booked their holidays. Even if you have bought your tickets and booked your vacation, it’s not too late to purchase travel insurance. Most countries are open to tourism and restrictions have been lifted but people still get sick. It’s better to be safe than sorry. When budgeting for the necessities of your vacation, be sure to add travel insurance to your spreadsheet.
Travel insurance is no longer considered optional for some people. It’s worth the peace of mind for some travelers knowing that they will be covered if anything happens before or during vacation. Be sure to research and figure out what coverage is best for you and the vacation that you have planned. The travel insurance industry has grown tremendously in the past two years. There are many travel insurance agents and companies. Speak to an agent, do some research and compare prices. Be sure to read the fine print. Insurance is something that you must have but hope to never need.