If the extended closures weren’t enough to make you fantasize about your next trip overseas, maybe last week’s news that international borders will start to reopen in November did the trick.
But when international travel resumes, it won’t look like it used to be, and COVID-19 has brought new risks that could affect you when you fly overseas.
Here’s how travel insurance has changed since the international border closed.
Will Travel Insurance Cover COVID-19?
As with pre-pandemic travel insurance, it will depend on which policy you choose.
Since most international travel from Australia has been on hold since March of last year, most Australians have not had to worry about what might happen to them if they contract COVID-19 from abroad.
When COVID-19 first closed world travel, many Australians were not covered because most insurance policies exclude pandemics and epidemics.
But now some insurers have started offering COVID-19 travel policies.
If you fall ill while on vacation and need to self-isolate (or worse, go to the hospital for medical treatment), it could impact accommodation, transit and who you travel with, not to mention potential hospital bills.
COVID-19 coverage aims to provide a level of protection for these circumstances, but these policies will not cover everything, including a pretty big reason for plans being canceled across Australia.
This means that policies are unlikely to cover you if your plans are canceled or postponed due to closed national or international borders, which can change quickly and with little warning.
Jodi Bird of consumer advocacy group CHOICE said there may be other ways for you to protect your money if your travel is affected by the border closures.
âThe main way to make sure you are covered due to border closures is to make sure up front that you book flexible bookingsâ¦ only book for these flexible accommodations,â he said. , noting that it was always more difficult to cancel a reservation. once you have locked the dates.
“If you need to cancel, ask the actual supplier if you can get your money back – a refund or a credit. If there is no recourse, then the next step is basically to increase it … from your public body responsible for consumption. “
Travel insurance may be affected by your destination’s consultative status, as classified by the Australian Government’s Smartaveller service.
Usually, the insurance will not cover you if you go to places listed as “do not travel” by Smartaveller.
Currently, all countries in the world except New Zealand are listed as ‘do not travel’, but that will change when international borders reopen from next month.
“Travel insurance will then be available with some coverage related to COVID-19 in those countries,” the Australian Insurance Council spokesperson said.
âTravel insurance without COVID-19 coverage is currently available from some insurers for international travel for those traveling with exemptions for Do Not Travel countries. “
She also said insurance, even without COVID-19 coverage, remains an important consideration for international travelers.
Mr Bird said the two biggest things to look out for when getting travel insurance in the COVID-19 era were:
- Make sure your destination is covered by your policy. Most policies will not cover you if you travel to a country the government advises against visiting
- Make sure your policy explicitly covers COVID-19, as some don’t
Will you have to pay more for travel insurance?
Mr Bird said it was difficult to predict how prices might change in the wake of COVID-19, given the travel insurance industry has been disrupted.
âIt’s hard to say how COVID is going to affect insurers’ premiums, so it is possible that you will have to pay more for this type of coverage,â he said, generally saying, âThe more you pay, the more you will be covered. for.”
A lack of competition could also drive up prices, as many providers have stopped offering travel insurance in the wake of the pandemic.
“There are a lot less travel insurers than a year and a half ago,” Bird said.
“It could actually mean thatâ¦ consumers could have to pay more.”
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