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!

If you are on my Private Members Newsletter list you will already have a comprehensive breakdown of everything in your inbox. If you are not on the list you can join HERE

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.

RELATED POST: SHOULD YOU BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE?

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.

RELATED POST: HOW TO AVOID GETTING SICK WHEN YOU FLY THIS WINTER

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.

RELATED POST: 15 FABULOUS BOOKS SET IN ITALY

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.


728x90 Get Quote

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.


728x90 Get Quote

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.

RELATED POST: HOW TO PACK A SUITCASE LIKE A PRO

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.)

If you could fly anywhere in the world for free where would you go? Learn how to get flights to anywhere in the world for free

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.

RELATED POST: 7 ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ACCESSORIES

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.

RELATED POST: HOW TO FLY AROUND THE WORLD FOR FREE

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.

RELATED POST: HOW TO SLEEP ON A PLANE

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


728x90 Get Quote

Vacation Travel ~ What You Need To Know About Airport Layovers

Chances are you will fly somewhere this summer. Hopefully it’s for fun and you’re going somewhere fabulous! Regardless of why you’re flying or where you are going, there is a decent chance that you will have a longer layover than expected, or that you will experience airport delays. Weather, more people flying, Murphy’s law all play into it.

A few summers ago I got stuck in Chicago O’Hare airport for hours because United Airlines didn’t bother to send the plane! (I have never flown United since.) While on the subject of United Airlines, if you will be flying with musical instruments or pets, just choose another airline. Google it to find out more…

I buy travel insurance for all my international travels, and sometimes for domestic travel. I base it on how much I stand to lose if my flight gets cancelled or my bags get lost. Normally my domestic flights are either for work or I’m going to see friends, so I don’t need insurance. If I were going to a vacation somewhere here in the USA I would buy travel insurance, because a missed or delayed flight will still have accommodation costs, rental car excess fees – all kids of extra expenses.

I use Allianz for all my travel insurance needs, and have done for years and years. They periodically email me blog posts with travel tips, and I thought this one would be helpful to most of my travel readers.

 

 

How to Feel Right at Home During Airport Layovers

Allianz - feel at home during airport layovers

Most of us don’t plan for extended airport layovers. Instead, what was supposed to be a quick 20 minutes of downtime in between two flights grows into a lengthy travel time-out caused by inclement weather, engine trouble or some other undisclosed minor emergency.

But there are globetrotting, budget-minded travelers who purposely take extended breaks in airport terminals and lounges during layovers. They know how to stay safe, maintain a semi-healthy diet and even rest comfortably when the odds and airport security are stacked against them.

So whether you’re hoping for brief layovers or counting on long ones, here are some travel tips and advice to make sure your extended stay manageable – and even enjoyable.

My New Book is Out! Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy is available here at Amazon.com

Protecting Yourself (And Your Bags) From Theft

Safety and security should be your chief concern during long airport layovers.

If you’re a savvy traveler, you already know the basic rules: keep your bags close by, keep your money and valuables even closer – “traveler’s money pouch” sounds much better than “fanny pouch” – and be wary of suspicious folks and even friendly strangers, especially when you’re tired or spending a lot of time at the bar. (Note: If you choose to drink on your layover, balance out the alcohol with water to stay hydrated).

One potential threat you may not expect comes from airport personnel. In recent years, there have been a number of luggage thefts committed by everyone from baggage handlers to TSA agents. There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from this threat within, including securing your bags with TSA-approved locks, heading directly to the baggage claim after your final flight, and even choosing brightly colored bags, which have proven to be a theft deterrent.1

Protecting yourself and your property during long layovers is more about common sense than sophisticated security protocol. But this becomes more difficult when you’re travel weary – and almost impossible when you’re sleeping in a stiff terminal chair.

Travel Protection For Unforeseen Situations That May Occur Worldwide from Allianz Global Assistance. Get a Quote Now.

Finding Comfort and Zzzs During Long Layovers

Airports circling the globe have done a better job of meeting the needs of today’s tech-savvy travelers. Phone charging stations and Wi-Fi access are the rule more than the exception.

But airports are incredibly inconsistent when it comes to acknowledging and providing for travelers with onsite accommodations for a cat nap or a comfy overnight slumber. Some roll out the cots, and others roll out security personnel to ensure fliers aren’t closing their eyes in a reclined position. No joke.

SleepingInAirports.net is a site dedicated to the global community of travelers who intentionally make slumbering in airport terminals part of their travel plans. They offer well informed advice: a bit of Vick’s Vapor Rub under the nose can cover up smelly terminals, sunglasses are important for airports that ban napping travelers, and disinfectant wipes are critical for clearing off your space before stretching out. The site also ranks the best and worst airports at accommodating sleeping fliers. Singapore Changi airport wins top honors for the 17th straight year with specially designed relaxation zones featuring cushioned and reclined seating, a movie theater, 24-hour massage and spa facilities, and even warm showers to help prep the body for extended rest.

And the worst? Italy’s Bergamo Orio al Serio is notorious for being cold, overcrowded and booting sleeping travelers when the cleaning crew arrives in the middle of the night.2

Here is one more tip: If you can’t find a safe and comfortable place to rest or even sleep, look for a chapel, which most airports have. Also, unbeknownst to many fliers, many airline clubs offer one-day passes that give you access to comfortable seating, showers, food, drink and Wi-Fi.3

7 Reasons You Need Family Travel Insurance – Vacation Insurance for the Entire Family.

Don’t Leave Your Diet Up In the Air

Airports make it easy to grab a bite when all you care about is getting something quick and easy. But when your layover, planned or otherwise, takes place over the course of several meal times, fast food and salty snacks can play havoc with your body.

The good news is that 76 percent of restaurants at the nation’s 18 busiest airports offer at least one healthy, plant-based meal, according to The Physicians Committee’s 13th annual Airport Food Review. This is up dramatically over the past decade plus; only 57-percent of airports offered this healthy option in 2001. Denver is ranked as the top airport offering healthy dining options, while Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport ranks last and Las Vegas McCarran International airport took a dive from second to 12th.4

Once you hone in on the best options, don’t be afraid to ask for some extra veggies for that sandwich and try to eat several small meals rather than a few big, dense meals.5

With the right planning and solid on-the-fly decision-making, you can make extended airport layovers safe, comfortable and healthy. After all, you don’t just want to simply arrive safely at your final destination; you want to arrive well rested and rejuvenated, satiated and with everything you began the flight with.


AllianzTravelInsurance.com

Join The Corinna B's World Newsletter!
Special Information For My Private Group Only

Join this private group to get special information about travel in Italy that doesn't get posted on the blog.

Private Group members receive newsletters telling them the secret stuff, from the restaurants I love to my favorite secret towns in Italy and much more!