American travelers look forward to the vacation travel period like nothing else in recent memory. But given the pandemic health concerns, they are trying too find the best travel insurance for a holiday vacation.
A new report from American Express notes that travelers are cautiously optimistic about travel in the next six months. Just over half (55%) of consumers who typically travel inland expect to feel “comfortable” traveling to a domestic destination between now and February.
And a research by Hopper suggests that 39% of Americans plan to travel on vacation. For more than half of the people on the road (55%), it will be their first time traveling since the start of the pandemic.
A long-awaited travel period
“Now that it is officially fall, many Americans are planning their vacation trips,” said Katia Iervasi, an insurance expert at Finder.com. “While the type and frequency of travel may look a little different this year, it’s still just as important to purchase travel insurance to protect yourself and your wallet.”
The only holiday travel season in recent memory that comes near here was 19 years ago, when the 9/11 attacks frozen travel for months. But the similarities don’t end here. After the September 11 attacks, interest in travel insurance has roughly doubled, with 20% of travelers buying insurance. Now, 45% say they will likely purchase travel insurance for a future vacation trip.
“The type of insurance you should purchase for vacation travel depends on the traveler’s needs,” said Bailey Foster, a vice president at Trawick International. “Some coverage may work for one type of traveler and another may work for someone else.”
Mentioned Hazards or “Cancel for Any Reason”?
One of the biggest decisions travelers will have to make when looking for the best travel insurance for a vacation vacation is: Should I buy a “cancel for any reason” policy or not?
A cancellation for any reason policy costs between 10 and 12% of the value of your trip. But it also gives you the flexibility to cancel and receive a partial refund.
“As long as you cancel within the required timeframe – usually 48 hours before your scheduled departure – you will earn back up to 75% of your travel costs,” explains Jeremy Murchland, president of Seven Corners. “You can cancel for any reason.”
A travel insurance policy in name, which costs about half of a cancellation insurance policy for any reason, will only cover you if you cancel for a reason stated in the policy – one of the “mentioned” perils. In general, a new COVID outbreak would not be a covered reason.
So the first question a traveler should ask is, should I pay more for guaranteed coverage – or should I save money and take a chance on a policy that I may not be able to use?
Other considerations for the best travel insurance for your vacation vacation
What else do you need to look for in you travel insurance?
Luggage coverage and travel delays. “Even at the best of times, the vacation can be a busy and sometimes chaotic time of year for travelers,” said Sherry Sutton, vice president of marketing at International insured travel. “At the very least, you should have travel and baggage delay coverage.”
Serious illnesses and bad weather. “They can disrupt even the best vacation travel plans,” said Daniel Durazo, a spokesman for this Allianz Travel. “In addition to the normal challenges of holiday travel, today’s unprecedented situation will add an extra layer of care for travelers looking to visit family and friends.” Durazo says good travel insurance can cover illnesses and injuries that can cause a trip to be canceled, as well as reimbursement for expenses incurred during a long delay.
Coverage of the coronavirus. “Certain standard travel insurance policies can provide cancellation coverage if a traveler contracts the coronavirus and is unable to travel,” notes Kasara Barto, a spokeswoman for Squaremouth. “Many of the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, including changing travel restrictions, flight cancellations due to lack of passengers, or accommodation canceling reservations due to COVID-19, are not covered by a standard policy.” Again, contact your agent or travel advisor about a “cancel for any reason” policy.
Expert tips for getting the best travel insurance for your vacation vacation
It took a while travel insurance companies to find out how to handle COVID. Some temporarily changed their policies to deal with pandemic-related claims. Specifically, they added temporary accommodation to cover cancellations, interruptions, and medical emergencies for customers who become ill with COVID-19, either before or during their trip.
Others now offer COVID-19 add-ons that cost extra, but cover some of the costs associated with a coronavirus diagnosis.
“If you’re traveling now, it can save you money in the long run,” said Rayleen Silva, who writes for Covered travelers blog. “Anyone traveling within the United States should know how expensive our health care system is. So buying travel insurance can save you hundreds, if not thousands, in the long run.”
Somehow, experts say, you need to make sure your next travel insurance policy covers a possible coronavirus outbreak.
Make travelers a lot of mistakes when planning a vacation vacation trip. One of them does not know the limits of their travel insurance.
“Keep in mind that there are usually item and maximum distribution amounts for personal belongings,” said Lisa Cheng, a spokeswoman for World Nomads. “Depreciation – the decrease in the value of an item over time – is taken into account when calculating damages. There may also be exclusions, such as jewelry and antiques.”
Travel insurers focus on safety
Travel insurers are doubling their safety this fall. For example, Allianz Partners has been this week TravelSmart mobile app to allay some of the concerns of post-pandemic travelers.
Allianz has added a new Alert Center, which provides location-specific travel alerts. They are designed to keep travelers one step ahead of developments that may affect their travel. The Alert Center provides updates on situations such as transportation interruptions, weather warnings and holiday closures, as well as health and safety risks. In addition, it contains expert advice on how to deal with local disturbances.
The insurance company’s customers have ranked safety and security alerts as the second most important service. It’s only surpassed by the ability to file and track a claim. (With TravelSmart you can already handle claims on the app.)
AIG’s Travel Assistance App came out at the end of last year was upgraded with a new hyper-local safety awareness functionality for more than 65,000 cities and neighborhoods. The feature, available through a partnership with the security platform GeoSure, was intended for business travelers.
But do you really need all that insurance?
Reality Check: Need expensive travel insurance if you’re just driving to Grandma for Thanksgiving? Probably not. The best travel insurance for your vacation trip may not be insurance.
This policy and new apps are for long-distance travelers. They also pay for airline tickets, car rentals and hotel costs. Travel insurance does not cover “free” items. Travel insurance does not cover accommodation with mom and dad or an award ticket booked with points. So even if you have insurance, you will not be reimbursed for those losses.
And before purchasing insurance, be sure to check your existing insurance coverage. Chances are, your auto, home, medical, or renter insurance will cover parts of your trip.
You may also have coverage through that travel credit card. You know, the one with the ridiculous annual fee that earns crappy frequent kite miles with every purchase. Yes that one.
Even if you’ve considered all of your existing coverage, you may still need it travel insurance. Because if the first nine months are any indication, the rest of 2020 will be an interesting year for travelers.