Coronavirus and Travel Insurance – What You Need To Know

If you have booked a trip for this spring or summer and now are not sure whether to go or not, or how to interpret your travel insurance, this post will hopefully be of help to you!

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Coronavirus

Some of the information about Coronavirus here in America is very misleading. I never thought there would be a day when I would advise against listening to anything an American president says about an epidemic, but here we are.

coronavirus and travel insurance
image via CDC

I suggest sourcing your information from more than one place, ideally looking to international news as well as domestic. You will see the entire world says one thing and the US president says something quite different.

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Quick Facts

Coronavirus COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that attacks the upper respiratory system. Approximately 80% of the people who contract it will be somewhere between asymptomatic and having cold/flu symptoms. 20% will get very sick, 5% critically ill and for around 2% it will be fatal.

These figures may be skewed due to not enough people being tested. Here in the U.S we have no idea how many people are already infected.

It disproportionately impacts those with underlying conditions, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly. You can read more about it on the CDC Website but be advised they aren’t allowed to tell us everything they normally would have up there. They had to take down posted figures on the number of people tested in the USA.

coronavirus and travel
Coronavirus image via CDC.gov

The USA is ridiculously behind the rest of the developed countries in testing. South Korea has tested more than 110,000 people. Italy has tested more than 25,000 people. The U,K more than 13,500. The list goes on and on, but the USA as of today is still limping along at the 500 mark.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

There are multiple factors to look at with your travel insurance policy. You can normally find it all in the fine print.

Some policies have no cover for events such as epidemics, pandemics.

Foreseen/Unforeseen Events

Travel Insurance policies will normally have an exit clause for Foreseen events. For example if you insure your trip today and then the weather service announces a hurricane advisory next week, you will be covered because you bought your policy before the advisory, so it was Unforeseen.

If you purchased insurance after the weather service announced there could be a hurricane next week, even if you hadn’t heard about it yet, that would be a Foreseen event and you would not be covered.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 was declared an epidemic on January 21st 2020. If you bought your policy before this date you should be covered. If you purchased it after this date you will not be covered for Coronavirus related problems.

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Cancel For Any Reason

If you bought an additional CFAR or Cancel For Any Reason with your policy before January 21st 2020 you should be able to get a 100% refund. If you purchased CFAR after January 21st 2020 you may not be covered, or the extent of your coverage is in the hands of the insurance company.

Non Essential Travel Advisory and Travel Ban

The State Department or Foreign Service for your country allocates a variety of threat levels for international travel. Two that you need to watch out for are an all out Travel Ban and a Non Essential Travel advisory. At the time of writing this post the U.S State Department has issued Non Essential Travel advisories for several countries. If you travel to one of these countries during the advisory your travel insurance policy doesn’t have to cover you for anything.

This is what Consumer Reports says about Travel and Coronavirus. Also here is an example of how travel insurance companies are dealing with it. My travel insurance is through Travelex, so I am using them as an example: Travelex Insurance and Coronavirus

Should You Cancel Your Trip?

This depends entirely upon where you are traveling and when.

I am going ahead with travel to Italy and Europe for the summer. There is every likelihood the virus will calm down over the summer months if it follows the behavior of its fellow viruses SARS and MERS. Obviously I will be watching and evaluating what is happening over the next weeks. My expectation is that we will see the worst of it in March and that from April forward the virus will start disappearing as the warmer weather comes.

I had planned to travel to Europe in December but for now temporarily have those plans on hold. I’m expecting to see the virus get worse again over the cold/flu season.

Obviously I’m not a doctor/microbiologist/epidemiologist and have no scientific background to support that theory. If I am wrong with my predictions then in December you will find me shopping in the Christmas markets in Europe.

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Trips To Re-Evaluate

There are two types of trip I think you should re-evaluate and that I would opt out of:

Theme Parks/Water Parks

Although the hot weather may reduce or possibly even eliminate the risk of spreading the virus, theme parks are the perfect places for contagions to spread quickly. You may want to really rethink trips to theme parks for the next few months, at least until the virus is under control

Cruises

I am very outspoken in my aversion to cruises and freely admit to being very biased. Cruise ships are floating incubators for viruses. They are incredibly difficult to sanitize, which has made them a paradise for a variety of ailments including Norovirus. I have known several people who contracted Norovirus on cruises and who were very ill for months and as long as a year.

We are seeing cruise ships around the world banned from docking due to Coronavirus. As I write this a Princess cruise has been denied entry to San Francisco due to Coronavirus. A passenger from a previous trip on this particular ship (February) died from Coronavirus in California yesterday.

The Grand Princess leaving San Francisco

The CDC is helicoptering test kits to 100 passengers who have been identified as “at risk” due to flu-like symptoms and upper respiratory illness. There are 2500 passengers on the ship.

You have to ask yourself is it really worth the risk? But don’t take my word for it. Here is an article from Tara C Smith, professor of epidemiology at Kent State about the dangers of contracting viruses on cruise ships: CRUISE SHIP NIGHTMARE

I hope this post has been helpful to you. If you have additional advice or information for travelers please leave a comment below. If you are a virologist/epidemiologist/microbiologist etc and can refute or add to anything here please do so in the comments below, and if possible link any articles that corroborate your position. I will happily add them to the body of this post. The more facts that can be given (vs my personal opinions) the more helpful this will ultimately be to travelers.


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Plane Gorgeous ~ How To Look Fabulous When You Land

Stand at the arrivals gate watching international travelers pushing their luggage carts through and you will notice most people look hungover after a long flight.

Their skin is grey, hair is all over the place, clothes are crumpled and they look well worse for wear.

But you don’t need to. After an entire lifetime of flying around the world, half the time having to bounce off the plane and straight in to a business meeting, a shoot or a dinner party, I’ve learned some tricks to help you look lovely after a long flight.

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy available in paperback and digital on Amazon.com. Bestseller Italy travel guide

Hydrate During Your Flight

That grey skinned, beat up look that most flyers get comes from dehydration. Every hour you are flying the friendly skies you are losing an extra glass of water, so the trick is to keep hydrating before, during and after your flight.

It doesn’t hurt to add in some electrolytes from a hydration packet or an EmergenceC either.

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This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase anything through these links a (very) small commission will be paid to this blog to help offset the hosting costs.

Fly Makeup Free

Maybe you don’t want to cavort through the airport with a bare face, but either arrive with no makeup on or remove your makeup with some facial wipes once you take off. Wipes are notoriously destructive to the area around the eyes, so go easy on mascara that morning or don’t wear any. If you do have eye makeup on you do need to remove it gently.

Don’t fly overnight with mascara on. Even if you don’t sleep you will probably snooze a bit/go into twilight sleep, and those long luscious lashes you boarded with will look like morning after drunk girl lashes.

Facial Spray

makeup artist favorite Caudalie Beauty Elixir spray in travel size
Makeup Artists and customers alike have turned Caudalie Beauty Elixir into a cult favorite

Invest in a travel sized facial spray and spritz your skin throughout the flight. It feels nice, and helps your skin stay hydrated. Recommended product Caudalie Beauty Elixir is available in travel size at Sephora.com

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Complexion Superfood

Apply a supersonic moisturizer either before your flight or after takeoff (depending on whether you board with makeup on). Weleda Skin Food is one of the most amazing deep moisturizers ever. Even after a 12 hour flight you will deplane with a glowy complexion.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask is perfect for travelers
Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask is the perfect travel companion.

Another option is Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. It wears like an intense moisturizer while you fly and leaves your skin beautifully prepped when you land. All three Summer Fridays Masks are available at Sephora.com

Keep Your Under Eyes Hydrated

The skin under your eyes dries out faster than any other skin on your body, so needs some extra loving if you are going to arrive looking fabulous. My latest favorite under eye product when I fly is this Cooling Water stick by Milk. It comes in a travel size and not only hydrates but has a very cooling effect as well.

Milk Makeup Cooling Water is the perfect undereye product when you travel. Hydrating and cooling it is ideal for long flights
Milk Makeup Cooling Water is the perfect travel companion. It both hydrates and cools tired under eyes, leaving your skin fresh and nourished. Available at Sephora.com

Allowing for the fact that every surface on a plane is a germ-fest I love that this particular product comes as a wind up stick, so your fingers don’t have to pollute your jar of expensive eye cream. It is the perfect travel companion.

Keep Your Lips Luscious

Another sign of dehydration is grey, cracky lips. Avoid this my using a good hydrating lip balm. I love the little round EOS lip balms. They travel well, don’t dry out and make your lips more cracked, aren’t too waxy, and if you apply a couple of times during your flight you will arrive with soft, lipstick ready lips.

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Before You Land/When You Land

Either before you land or in the space between de-boarding the plane and your bags arriving into baggage claim, do a quick tidy up. Quick as in under 5 minutes.

1. Brush Your Teeth

Trust me, your breath stinks after a long flight. A fresh, minty mouth makes you feel better, and shiny, clean teeth look 1000 times better than mossy, dirty teeth!

2. Avoid Foundation And Powder

Instead of applying base or powder gently use a facial wipe to clear away any remnants of the flight, give your skin another spritz and some moisturizer. It will love you for it. If you really do need some color support use a lightweight BB or CC cream

3. Groom Your Brows

Your eyebrows are one of the most important features on your face. Give them a quick tidy up and pencil in a little color. This draws the viewer’s eye up and away from your under eyes, and makes you look polished.

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4. Luminize Your Under Eye

Apply a little luminizing color correction under the eye to neutralize dark rings and pop a little light off. My favorites are YSL Touche Eclat and recently ColoreScience Total Eye. Either of these will hydrate, color correct and brighten, leaving you looking fresh faced and lovely

5. Show Your Lashes Some Love

Lancome definicils mascara
Lancome Definicils mascara has been around for a while. It is a tried and trusted mascara that will probably be around forever..

If you feel so inclined add a couple of coats of a lash defining mascara. Nothing goopy or thick, just something to make the lashes look defined, lush and shiny. I have been using Lancome Definicils for the past year and love it.

6. A Bright, Bold Lip

The best trick to wake up your skin and look fresh and fabulous is to apply a bright lipstick. Reds will highlight the blue/grey in your skin and unless you are JLo will make you look more haggard and beaten up, so I avoid them when flying. My favorites are fuchsias. They are bright but don’t fight with your skin tone. Even if you just wear a hint of it.

I also avoid matte formulas when I’ve been flying as they can make already dry skin and lips look dead. I prefer a sateen or very low gloss.

7. Put Your Hair Up

Sometimes something as simple as a fluffed up high ponytail can add layers of glam to your look. If there is absolutely no redeeming my hair I will backcomb it a little and put it into a high pony. This at least looks fresh.

8. Palazzo Pants

Heads up ladies, palazzo pants or pants with a little movement in the lower leg are God’s gift to frequent fliers! For the past 10 years or so I have been flying in simple black palazzo pants. They are comfortable to wear, especially in cramped seating, but even better, they swish when you walk.

Miranda Kerr walking through airport in Palazzo pants

Have a look at your fellow flyers. Their clothes look bunched, wrinkled, and slept in. On the other hand a palazzo in a travel friendly fabric that swishes a little as you walk makes you look fresh and fabulous.

If you have read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) then you will already know about my FREE RESOURCES for travelers. These are downloadable PDFs that help you with everything from planning your trip to pre-travel checklists that help you to travel stress-free! You can download your FREE RESOURCES TRAVEL PDFs HERE


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8 Crucial Things You Need To Know About Travel Insurance

Are you planning a big trip or getting ready to travel? If so you may be thinking about travel insurance and whether or not you need to purchase a policy. Is it money wasted or is it an investment in your trip?

This post contains affiliate links

1. When Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Personally, I buy travel insurance for every international trip I take. From luggage going missing to flights being delayed to something going wrong before the trip and forcing me to miss it, there are so many things that can happen.

summer travel image conde nast traveler 8 crucial things you need to know about travel insurance

Overseas travel normally involves a substantial financial investment and I want to make sure that A) I don’t lose that investment and B) the trip doesn’t get ruined by me not having clothes when I get there.

For domestic travel I don’t normally buy a travel insurance policy unless I have significant expenses attached. If I’m just flying to the opposite coast for a few days it is an expense I will do without, but if I’m flying to Hawaii for a vacation I will insure the trip.

You need to weigh out how drastic your financial loss will be if something major happens.


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2. When Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

I have my Glam Italia Tour travelers purchase travel insurance as soon as they have paid their deposit and booked their flights. You need to get covered as quickly as possible.

Most of us buy the less expensive airfares that have zero allowance for cancellation or changes to be made. (Read the fine print on your airline ticket) This can leave you with no recourse if something happens between buying the ticket and flying out. As with many boutique travel services, deposits and payments on my tours are non-refundable, which could add up to a significant amount of money lost should something go wrong prior to leaving.

Many travel insurance policies don’t cover you until 14 days after purchase, so you want to purchase your policy as quickly as possible.

In life, anything can happen. You could break your leg, have a heart attack, lose your job – the list is endless. Of course we hope none of these things do happen, but should something major go wrong you want to be past that 14 day window and be able to get some financial relief.

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3. Should You Buy Travel Insurance From Your Airline?

Do your homework on this one.

When you are purchasing your airfare the airline will offer you an insurance policy. I have never bought one of these so can’t speak to their value. Make sure you do your due diligence before clicking that purchase button. My feeling is that the policy probably will serve the airline better than it will serve you. (I could be wrong though.)

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Your insurance policy needs to cover more things than just the airfare and lost bags though, so really read up on that policy as well as any you may consider buying. It seems to me they don’t want you to spend time making comparisons as you will see a timer clicking away, warning you that you only have minutes before you lose the price on your airfare. I always buy a separate, freestanding policy.

Three years ago on a flight from Charlotte to Rome I sat next to a couple who were supposed to fly from San Francisco to Rome two days prior, to go on a cruise. The airline had cancelled their flight while they were at the airport. They were stuck in San Francisco (along with everyone else from their flight) for 2 full days before American re-routed them to Charlotte and from there onto Rome, costing them not only 2 nights in a hotel in a very expensive city, but the first 3+ days of their cruise as well.

4. Does Your Credit Card Offer Travel Insurance Coverage?

Depending on the credit card you used and whether you charged your entire trip to it or not your credit card may offer international travel insurance as part of your membership.

I had a situation a couple of years ago where my son and I were flying back from New Zealand with United (I seriously do not recommend flying United) The tickets had been purchased months prior, but shortly before our trip United decided to cancel our Los Angeles-Phoenix flight, leaving us stranded at LAX overnight. United being United basically just said “sucks to be you”.

Our flights had been purchased through American Express who said “no problem” and put us in a nice hotel overnight and paid for dinner. The moral of that story is that AmEx is good and United is bad.

Before booking your trip find out what type of travel insurance your credit card offers, if it does offer travel insurance.

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5. Read The Fine Print and Trip Cancellation Policy

Before buying a travel insurance policy be sure to read all the fine print, including the trip cancellation policy. You will only get your money back if the reason for cancellation falls within the reasons listed on the policy.

euros paper money

Reading the fine print is really important as you need to know ahead of time about any exclusions and what documentation you need to have to make a claim. For example, your stolen handbag may require a police report, your medical claim may require additional documentation, your asthma attack may not be covered.

Also an act of terror, an act of God like a hurricane or earthquake, or the outbreak of war may not be covered. Obviously we aren’t planning for any of these things to happen, but you need to know what to do, and what is covered in the event that something goes way off the rails.

Protect your travel investment with Travelex Insurance!

6. Should You Buy Evacuation Coverage?

Medical transport coverage is in my opinion one of the most important thing to consider when purchasing travel insurance. Should something catastrophic happen – you get hit by a car, have a heart attack or aneurysm or stroke, break a leg or break your back, you need a travel insurance policy that will bring you home on the appropriate type of plane, with a nurse.

Of course the chances of something like that happening are incredibly slim, and of course you would be stabilized and treated in hospital wherever you are, but the getting back home factor could potentially be a huge deal. How would your family get you back home if you were incapacitated?

tourist being evauated by helicopter

I recently read a post from a travel blogger whose friend slipped and broke 2 vertebrae somewhere down in South America while they were hiking. They not only had a travel insurance policy that provided medical escort home, but also had an evacuation policy. This covered being heli-vac’d out of the rain forest. I have never purchased evacuation cover but I don’t do any trips that involve hiking or high danger sports. The most dangerous sport I engage in is drinking a spritz while looking over the Grand Canal in Venice.

Evacuation policies normally only cover heli-vac to the nearest hospital, not to the hospital of your choice. They also don’t cover getting you from that hospital to the next, or back home. A helivac is incredibly expensive, and can run more than $100,000 depending on where you are.

Always make sure you have a travel insurance policy that gives you between $50,000 and $100,000 medical travel home.

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7. Pre-Existing Conditions

Before purchasing a travel insurance policy be sure to find out what their policy is on pre-existing conditions and if your pre-existing is covered or not. You may have coverage from your medical insurance policy at home, but be sure to check first as most medical insurance policies are not likely to cover you overseas.

8. Check The Travel Insurance Help Options

Before purchasing a travel insurance policy check to see what help the company will give you should something happen while you are out of the country. Some companies have international help lines or toll free help lines, others have nothing.

I got sick while traveling overseas 2 years ago. My travel insurance company was able to not only find me English speaking doctors in the places I was traveling, but also facilitate the appointments. They were incredibly helpful.

Another time one of my travelers’ luggage didn’t make it to Italy with her. The airline was about as much help as a bar of soap, but the insurance company got on it and chased after the suitcase as it made its way around the world. It saved my client hours of being on hold with the airline (at international calling fees) and also meant she didn’t have to waste vacation time trying to chase her bag down. The bag didn’t get to us until day 8 of an 11 day tour, but in the meantime the travel insurance company covered the purchase of new clothes, shoes and toiletries.

Ideally you want to use a multinational travel insurance company that offers you proper help when you need it.

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Have you read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) ? In it I talk about my Free Resources, a set of PDF’s including trip planning guides and pre-travel checklists that you can use over and over. Download your Free Resources HERE


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