Should you take out travel insurance with the Spreading Omicron variant?

SALT LAKE CITY – This week, when thousands of flights have been canceled, we’ve seen how COVID can really still wreak havoc on travel plans. Travel can be expensive, so travel insurance helps protect your vacation pay – especially since the pandemic leaves everyone in the dark.

But it turns out that in December fewer people say they buy travel insurance than in December 2020. Is the insurance worth the cost?

When the pandemic first broke out, travel insurance rarely covered cancellations due to COVID-19. But times have changed, according to InsureMyTrip.com’s travel insurance expert Kathy Kimmel.

“The industry has recognized that COVID-19 is viewed as unforeseen and so are covering it as an unforeseen disease,” explained Kimmel.

Now, if you get COVID and cannot travel, travel insurance will cover your expenses, including prepaid non-refundable deposits for accommodation and transportation, and other expenses.

Statistically, however, interest in travel insurance seems to be on the wane. As of December 2020, half of all travelers took out insurance, according to consumer website ValuePenguin. That number dropped to 29% in December. Kimmel says this is likely because travelers still have travel insurance that was covered by canceled trips.

“What we found from 2020 to 2021, people in 2020 whose trips were canceled maybe two or three times moved to this year,” she said.

Kimmel said typical travel policies cover healthcare costs when you are out of the reach of your insurance network. The travel delay can reimburse you for additional room and board if you need to be quarantined during a trip. And if you’re stranded at the airport after a canceled flight, you can get refunds for a hotel, meals, and even transportation.

“The first thing you always have to do is go to the check-in counter and get some sort of document that shows why you are late,” she advised. “Because it (the cover) stops your flight time from then on.”

However, you should know that if you are planning to cancel your trip because you are concerned that you may contract COVID, it will not be a refundable claim unless you add “cancel for any reason” coverage.

“If you cancel two or more days before departure, you get up to 75% (your travel expenses covered.) So you are right, at least it would be something,” said Kimmel.

Kimmel said that typical travel insurance is around 6% of your travel expenses, but it can be 10% if you take out the additional “cancel for any reason” insurance. You can always purchase insurance before your trip, but she recommended having it in hand no later than 21 days before departure. With COVID putting your travel plans aside, you must have illness insurance to make a claim.

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