When COVID-19 came to our shores in early 2020 and Australia’s border to overseas travel closed, the travel industry was stunned as bookings for overseas flights and inbound traffic were cancelled. This shone a light on the inadequacies in travel insurance products that failed to cover travellers if their trips were cancelled or they contracted COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the way we live; it’s also changed the entire travel industry. Many travellers have been caught short when their trips and flights have been cancelled due to outbreaks and their travel insurance wasn’t adequate to cover their losses. Few providers back then were willing to cover cancellations and medical expenses when the virus became a “known event”.
Travel insurance is crucial, and it’s often said that if you won’t pay for cover, you shouldn’t be travelling. And with COVID-19 outbreaks continuing to severely affect the travel industry, it’s also wise to read the fine print in your travel insurance policy before you sign up if you’re planning a future trip. Many travel agencies are still offering credits rather than refunds, but things are changing slowly.
How is Travel Insurance Changing?
Lately, travel insurance companies have scrambled to produce policies with cover against COVID-19-related issues for travel to New Zealand inside the government-authorised trans-Tasman bubble. But after a plethora of queries from Australians keen to get out and about with assurances of some financial relief for quarantine, medical or cancellation expenses, many insurers are now agreeing to certain coverage but only to areas the Australian Government has approved.
When COVID-19 first hit, most travel insurance policies excluded epidemic and pandemic amendments and cancellations, but now many include more Covid benefits in their cover. Be aware though that no travel insurance product will cover you for a destination that has been the subject of a government DO NOT TRAVEL alert. As more travel bubbles are created, insurers will no doubt update their packages.
Is Travel Insurance Really Necessary?
Absolutely! You only have to read up on the nightmare stories of travellers injured in freak accidents overseas, being robbed, assaulted, with huge medical bills and lost or stolen passports and money. Of course, you’re full of travel adrenaline and you think you’re invincible, only you’re not. You’re quite vulnerable, making your way through different cultures and languages, strange cities and regions with hazards unknown in Australia.
But adequate travel insurance can cover you for lost luggage, theft, cancelled flights and more serious things such as medical costs and flights home if needed.
If you’re embarking on an adventure trip with e.g. scuba or skydiving, skiing, or abseiling, going without travel insurance is simply courting disaster. You can recoup these costs with insurance. Note: Don’t believe the rumours that the Australian Government helps travellers to pay their overseas bills. This is definitely not true, so get travel insurance.
Now that COVID-19 is a part of our lives and will remain so until hopefully a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, travel insurance companies are accepting this fact and are offering benefits. Some policies are broken into three areas: Overseas medical expenses, cancellation or amendment costs and additional expenses cover.
So be sure to buy travel insurance with additional amendment and cancellation cover so you are insured right from the start for such things as:
- Being diagnosed with COVID-19 before you leave.
- Making changes or cancelling because a colleague or relative living in Australia or NZ is diagnosed with COVID-19.
- If someone you planned on staying within Australia or NZ is diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been directed to quarantine and you can’t stay there.
- If a COVID-19 outbreak means the accommodation you had booked has to be closed down.
So, shop around and make sure your travel policy is ready for the rest of 2021 onwards, with clear cover for cancelled flights, and whatever other COVID-19 related issues they are willing to include in their policy.
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as Avida Motorhomes, Acacia Pest Control and Biogone to help them reach their business goals.