News: COVID-19 travel insurance becoming a vacation staple.
(Reuters) – COVID-19 insurance policies increasingly combine passports and sunscreen as vacation staples, offering insurers options as more countries require mandatory coverage in the event that visitors contract the coronavirus.
Airline bookings are on the rise in some regions, raising cautious hopes for a resurgence in summer traffic, but also raising fears of tourist destinations that they will be hit by bills if vacationers are stranded by the virus.
More than a dozen countries from Aruba to Thailand are requiring COVID-19 coverage for visitors, with Jordan considering such protective measures at the latest, the organizers of an ambulance plan told Reuters.
According to Robyn Ingle, travel insurance consultant, the market for all types of COVID-19 travel cover is estimated at $ 30 billion to $ 40 billion annually. Companies like AXA and AIG are characterized by insurance coverage.
However, a surge in demand for COVID-19 coverage also means that insurers could be at stake for large payouts if another wave of infections leads to large numbers of cancellations or tourists fall ill.
“Travel insurance and protection services are growing rapidly with the resumption of travel,” said Dan Richards, general manager of travel risk and crisis management company Global Rescue.
COVID-19 insurance benefits typically cover treatments up to $ 100,000 and may include costs for coronavirus testing and services such as evacuation or local burial or cremation. These benefits, introduced by insurers in mid-2020, are sold either as add-on benefits or as separate policies with coverage for sickness or quarantine.
Jeremy Murchland, president of Indiana-based travel insurance company Seven Corners, said travelers are now “more willing to insure their trips” as more countries need COVID-19 coverage.
A travel insurance plan that includes travel coverage, coverage for medical expenses for COVID-19, and protection for luggage and personal items typically costs 4% to 8% of the dollar value of the trip, Murchland said.
While travel has been hit by the pandemic, demand for insurance coverage has given the hardest-hit insurance industry the opportunity to develop new products, the companies said.
For example, Seven Corners launched an optional medical itinerary in June that covers coronavirus costs, Murchland said. By the end of the year, the product with coronavirus coverage generated approximately 80% of total medical travel plan sales.
Seven Corners saw a 20% increase in the number of travelers buying high-priced “cancel for any reason” policies in 2020. The guidelines cover the cost of cancellation related to the virus.
Some countries have mandated travel insurance for incoming visitors – either by including them in their immigration or visa fees, or by requiring proof of insurance, insurer World Nomads said.
Jordan is currently considering a mandatory flat fee for visitors as part of a program run by Global Rescue and the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, said Taleb Rifai, council co-chair. The program, which costs up to $ 100 per person, covers certain disasters and diseases such as COVID-19.
The Jordanian Tourism Office was unavailable for comment.
It is not clear how the demand for coverage will evolve as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Frank Comito, a special adviser to the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, said some budget travelers have complained about mandatory coverage. And some countries could stop or relax the demand when “we move away from the pandemic”.
Rifai, former secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, expects countries to continue to require coverage as vaccines “will take years” to roll out globally.
Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bangaluru; Adaptation by Denny Thomas and Bill Berkrot
Original Source © Reuters