To help stimulate tourism, innovative destinations around the world are offering Covid-19 travel insurance for holidaymakers. Rose Dykins reports
Even for experienced travellers, planning a holiday right now is a minefield. Travel insurance policies that were sufficient 12 months ago suddenly feel redundant with the heightened risk of travelling during Covid-19. And, they probably are, as most of them have simply not been designed to cover the specific travel risks that coronavirus presents.
There’s the risk of contamination while travelling – and the overseas medical bills this could entail. But this is also against the backdrop of constantly changing travel restrictions and border closures, and the threat of flight cancellations that can either prevent a holiday from happening at the last minute, or prevent travellers from being able to make the journey home.
Never has there been a time when watertight, up-to-date travel insurance has been more important. In an interesting twist, destinations themselves have started to introduce Covid-19-specific travel insurance to help tourists if the virus impacts their holiday while they are away.
The insurance packages vary in cost – some are even free for all travellers – but it’s important to read the fineprint carefully to fully understand exactly what the policy covers.
Recently, the Caribbean island announced it will temporarily offer a free “travel assistance plan” for tourists until December 31, 2020. This includes emergency cover if they are exposed to coronavirus while in the Dominican Republic, and covers the the costs of Covid-19 tests, medical transfers or transfers for relatives, penalties for airfare changes and their accommodation expenses if they need to stay longer in the country. The plan only applies to tourists staying in hotels, though.
In August, Portugal launched a travel insurance scheme for international tourists, designed to “guarantee, to all who visit Portugal, that they can travel around the country, safe and with confidence”.
All medical, surgical, hospital and pharmaceutical expenses are included in the travel insurance, which is extended across the whole country, and is available to visitors from all over the world. Starting from €37.20, the insurance package gives unlimited access to medial advice, online medical consultations, information about appropriate medical facilities, shipping of medicine, hospital transfers and repatriation costs.
Also in August, Spain’s Canary Islands became the first of the country’s regions to launch free travel insurance for overseas visitors. This covers medical, quarantine and repatriation costs if travellers contract Covid-19 during their stay on the archipelago (which includes Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and La Palma).
In September, Thai insurance companies teamed up to offer incoming tourists a new kind of insurance, covering both medical treatment and repatriation costs. The price of a traveller’s policy is dependent on the level of the risk of Covid-19 in their country of origin, but those from “high risk” nations can still avail of the insurance.
Once a traveller passes through immigration in Thailand, this policies become valid. They must also have a “fit-to-fly” health certificate that shows they have tested negative for coronavirus no more than 72 hours before their inbound flight.
As part of its campaign, “Uzbekistan, Safe Travel Guaranteed”, the nation has said that if any tourists contract Covid-19 during their visit, they will receive US$3,000 towards their treatment. A list of health facilities and that foreign tourists can benefit from during the pandemic is also being compiled.
In August, Turkey launched travel insurance options to provide Covid-19 cover to international tourists. This includes healthcare costs of up to €3,000 for a premium fee of €15, €5,000 for a fee of €19 and €7,000 for a fee of €21.
The country has also launched insurance packages that cover costs resulting from an extended stay in Turkey following a positive Covid-19 test. Cover starts from €10 per day for 15 days, which covers up to €100 of accommodation costs per day.
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