“Of paramount importance,” says one expert as the outages continue

Travel insurance has become a more critical part of plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with many travel restrictions lifted, travel cancellation and interruption insurance coverage is still more important than ever, especially with the number of the flight delays and cancellations we have I see.

“What has come out of this pandemic … is the popularity of two new insurance products that have always been there but not necessarily of interest to many, and that is now cancellation and trip interruption,” said Martin Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc. Yahoo Canada. “The reason is because of all the problems that are going on there with flight delays and canceled flights and lost luggage and all that stuff.”

“Insurance plays a key role here, at least you know you have a policy, you have a claim number and you can claim the insurance company for expenses incurred, a lost bag … You’re allowed up to $900 per person for essentials and things like that … People now realize that you can’t rely on the airline to compensate you or give you your money back, so insurance takes on a whole new perspective.”

How are COVID-19 issues addressed through travel insurance?

While travelers used to have to worry about a COVID-19 rider or cost cap related to COVID-19, that’s no longer the case, with insurers treating it like “any other unexpected medical emergency,” according to Firestone.

“You have to know that they don’t see the risk that they once saw, … way back when we were talking about COVID, you ended up in the emergency room, in the hospital, on a ventilator and in some cases in the U.S., that could be half a million dollars built up very quickly,” he said. “Hence the reason they said if you want protection against COVID, you have to buy an additional policy that covers you.”

But there are still a few things to keep in mind regarding what is actually an acceptable claim related to COVID-19.

“Covid is a known cause when it comes to cancellation insurance, which means you can cancel your trip if you get COVID within 14 days before it, so that’s an acceptable reason to make a claim, I have COVID, no I can go,” Firestone explained. “However, nothing else will be covered regarding COVID.”

“You won’t be able to file a claim and say the country I’m going to has a new wave and it’s so bad I don’t want to go, not an answer. The country we’re going to has closed the border, I can’t get there, it’s not covered. Our country, Canada, has issued a level 3 or 4 alert for COVID, which is not covered. So it’s very important … to understand that the only covered reason for a travel cancellation claim related to COVID is if you actually got it.”

Once a passenger leaves for their trips, it no longer falls under the cancellation part of the policy, it falls under the termination.

“If you become ill with COVID during this trip, … the disruption will cover accommodation, expenses and a new plane ticket back home if you missed your flight,” Firestone said.

What should travelers look for in a travel insurance policy?

Firestone emphasizes that when travelers are looking for travel insurance, it is extremely important to really understand the specifics of the policy, including getting information from professional brokers, as unforeseen travel issues are paramount.

“They just have to be very informed, there’s a lot of fine print, there’s a lot of things they need to understand when they buy it,” Firestone said. “It’s not as simple as clicking a button now on the Expedias of the world and saying, I’ll take the insurance… I think you have to understand what you’re getting and what’s covered and what’s not covered. “

“If you just wait to ask for time and then get a nice letter back from [the insurer] that’s assuming that’s not covered, then you’re going to be disappointed.”

Firestone also stresses that cancellations and interruptions to what is often a package trip are “paramount” to travel planning, which is intensifying as we continue to hear horror stories of travelers stranded without a flight home.

“You never know if the flight is delayed, you never know if you’re going to miss it, and the problem with airlines, as we all know now, is that compensation is a bit of a joke,” Firestone said. “They’re just arguing that it’s a safety and personnel issue and therefore not their responsibility, therefore they shouldn’t have to pay the claim.”

“With the cancellation … you declare the amount that you will be able to present during the claim that shows 100 percent, non-refundable amounts that you paid that the end user said, if you can’t get here, you will go be responsible or we won’t give you your money back, that’s the key… I think in the new world, when people travel now, they’re looking not only for emergency medical care, but also for cancellation and disruption, and baggage for that as well.”

Travel Week is on Yahoo Canada! From travel and luggage essentials to last-minute long weekend deals, see all our travel coverage here.

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