If extended lockdowns have not been enough to make you fantasize about your next trip abroad, last week’s news that international borders will reopen in November has done the trick.
However, when international travel resumes, it will not look the same as before, and COVID-19 has brought new risks that may affect you when you fly abroad.
This is how travel insurance has changed since the international border closed.
Does the travel insurance cover COVID-19?
As with travel insurance before the pandemic, it will depend on the policy you choose.
Because most international travel from Australia has been suspended since March last year, most Australians have not been worried about what might happen to them if they get COVID-19 abroad.
When COVID-19 first closed to global travel, many Australians were not covered because most insurances rule out pandemics and epidemics.
But now some insurance companies have started offering COVID-19 travel policies.
If you get sick during a vacation and need to isolate (or worse, go to the hospital for medical care), that can have flow-through effects for accommodation, transit, and the people 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 do not cover everything, including a fairly large reason for canceled plans across Australia.
This means that policies are unlikely to cover you if your plans are canceled or postponed due to state or international border closures, which can change quickly and with little warning.
Jodi Bird of the consumer organization group CHOICE said there may be other ways you can protect your money if your trip was affected by border closures.
“The most important way to make sure you are covered due to border closures is to book flexible bookings in advance … only book for the flexible accommodation establishments,” he said, noting that it was always harder to cancel a reservation when you had locked dates.
“If you have to cancel, ask the actual provider if you can get your money back – a refund or a credit. If there is no remedy there, then the next step is essentially raising them. .. with your state consumer case. “
Travel insurance may be affected by your destination’s advisory status, classified by the Australian Government’s Smart Traveler Service.
Usually, the insurance does not cover you if you go to places listed as “do not travel” by Smartraveller.
Currently, all countries in the world except New Zealand are listed as “not traveling”, but that will change when international borders reopen from next month.
“Travel insurance will then be available with some COVID-19 related coverage to these countries,” the spokeswoman for the Australian Insurance Council said.
“Travel insurance without COVID-19 coverage is currently available from some international travel insurance companies for those traveling with exceptions to Do Not Travel countries.”
She also said insurance, even without COVID-19 coverage, remained an important consideration for international travelers.
Mr Bird said the two biggest things to look out for when getting travel insurance at the age of COVID-19 were:
- Make sure your destination is definitely covered by your policy. Most policies do not cover you if you go to a country that the government advises against visiting
- Make sure your policy explicitly covers COVID-19 because some do not
Do you have to pay more for travel insurance?
Mr Bird said it was difficult to predict how prices could change in the wake of COVID-19, given that the travel insurance industry had been disrupted.
“It’s hard to say how COVID is going to affect insurers’ premiums, so it’s possible you’ll have to pay more for that kind of coverage,” he said, saying in general: “The more you pay, the more will you be covered to. “
Lack of competition can also push up prices, as many providers have stopped offering travel insurance in the wake of the pandemic.
“There are far fewer travel insurance companies than there were a year and a half ago,” Bird said.
“It may actually mean that … consumers may have to pay more.”
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