I get asked to do a lot of interviews, either by the media outlets or conference organizers, and one of the most popular questions I’ve gotten since the pandemic began is, “Should I buy travel insurance and is COVID-19 covered?”
It’s such a popular topic that, according to a recent AAA Travel survey, “more than half (55%) of American adults are planning a vacation of at least one overnight stay before the end of next year, and those travelers are increasingly turning to travel insurance to protect their vacation investments. One-third (31%) of U.S.. travelers say they are more likely to purchase travel insurance for their trips planned between now and the end of 2022, specifically due to the pandemic.”
There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Americans’ travel plans. And that’s an understatement because almost everything has changed from planning to protecting. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would check hospitalization levels and how many people are sick at a destination before getting on a plane (BTW: Here’s how to check). But it’s the new normal for many.
Paula Twidale, the senior vice president of AAA Travel said, “Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive for the large amount of peace of mind it affords, and that’s more valuable than ever in light of the pandemic.” She went on to say, “Americans have seen how important travel insurance is to protect their vacation investment and are prioritizing this purchase at the start, now more than ever.”
She’s right. I have friends who never even thought about buying travel insurance and now they’re calling me up before taking a trip and asking which policy to get. Full disclosure: Ever since I spoke at a travel insurance conference over a decade ago, I’ve been a firm believer in travel insurance and shortly afterwards, became a brand ambassador for two insurance companies, InsureMyTrip.com and Allianz Travel Insurance.
By far the most frequently cited benefit of travel insurance is the ability to cancel a trip and get a refund. In the survey, 69% of travelers said this is most important to them when considering travel insurance for an upcoming trip.. “AAA advises these travelers to look into travel insurance policies that include a “cancel at any time” component, which could offer more flexibility and protection in the event a traveler needs to cancel their trip.”. This type insurance also costs a lot more.
AAA explains, “while travel insurance policies have historically not covered epidemics or pandemics, in response to shifting consumer expectations, some providers have started to introduce plans that cover some losses due to COVID-19 or other epidemic diseases.”.
AAA’s advice is for travelers to consult the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent to help plan their trips and evaluate the various travel insurance options available on the market. I agree with this. Last month, I wrote a post titled, Travel Insurance and COVID-19: Allianz’s New Epidemic Coverage Endorsement Explained. Each travel insurance company and plan is different so you really have to read the fine print to see what’s covered. I know, I know, no one wants to read any fine print, especially travel insurance. I totally get it. If you don’t want to read it, then call the company directly and ask for an agent to explain all the benefits to you.
Choosing the right policy is important, and travelers want policies that protect against commonly covered reasons for trip cancellations and interruptions, as well as other travel-related incidents including change fees, delays or lost/damaged luggage, to name a few. What’s also important is that some international destinations require visitors to carry travel insurance so always find out in advance.
AAA Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted August 13–15, 2021, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,126 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 2.9% at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error for U.S. travelers is 3.9% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.