Ask Laura Heidt if travel insurance is getting better, and her response is: And how!
Heidt, the insurance desk manager for Brownell Travel, follows the ins and outs of travel insurance for her clients. And she says this summer has been a big one for insurance.
“Many travel insurance policies now cover grandparents wanting to attend the birth of a grandchild,” she says. “They cover normal pregnancies — there do not have to be complications. And school extensions are also covered if the proposed last day is changed.”
Some travel insurance is also getting more generous.
For example, Travelex Insurance has increased the cancellation recoup amounts on its “cancel for any reason” policies from 50% to 75%. That means if you file a claim, Travelex will cover 75% of your prepaid nonrefundable costs.
“Most other travel insurance companies are still at 50%,” she adds.
Good-news stories are few and far between in travel, and that’s especially true for travel insurance. But this one’s legit. Travel insurance went through some difficult years during the pandemic. This summer, the major American insurance companies have upgraded their products to cover more events and sometimes even provide a higher reimbursement rate.
New travel insurance options make people feel “more secure”
Shannon Lofdahl, CEO, of Travelex, says travelers have been especially excited about its new “cancel for any reason” upgrade, which it announced at the beginning of the summer.
“It’s a benefit more and more travelers are interested in, considering the recent pandemic and the pilot and labor shortage airlines are still experiencing,” she says. “For some travelers, cancel for any reason coverage has helped them feel more secure in planning future travel. They feel like they can go ahead and book that honeymoon or dream vacation if they have a good cancel for any reason option that will protect them if they do cancel.
The upgrades are part of a bigger trend in travel insurance, which is to allow travelers to personalize their policies.
“Insurance companies will continue to add more customizable policies to their portfolios,” Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage, an insurance marketplace.
It’s good timing, he adds.
“Travelers planning fall and winter trips in November and December should book early and be prepared for trip disruptions resulting from a record-breaking surge in holiday travelers,” he says.
What are some of this summer’s major travel insurance improvements?
Some travel insurance providers got a jump on this trend by introducing their upgrades earlier in the year. For example, World Nomads added a feature called FootprintID, an app that allows travelers to securely store their medical records including allergies, medications and emergency contact information, which they can then easily share with first responders, healthcare providers and family in an emergency.
Here are some of the most significant enhancements to travel insurance:
Allianz Travel Insurance adds covered events
Also early to this trend is Allianz Travel Insurance, which earlier this year added new 12 covered events for trip cancellation and trip interruption. They include first responder call to duty, school year extension, veterinary emergency, denied boarding due to a medical reason, and inability to receive a vaccination. Allianz also added significant extensions on maximum trip length and maximum policy length.
“The product enhancements also included higher benefit limits in response to increased travel costs, as well as higher benefit limits for medical emergencies,” says Daniel Durazo, a spokesman for Allianz Travel Insurance. “For the first time, the rescheduling of a special event would now trigger loyalty program and redeposit fee benefits, adding flexibility for consumers booking trips using points or miles.”
Faye Travel Insurance adds telemedicine benefit
Faye Travel Insurance has also added a new telemedicine option for policyholders.
“It gives our travelers the ability to access near-instant voice and video consultations with a network of 20,000 doctors for consultations in 21 languages,” says Elad Schaffer, Faye’s CEO. “The best part is that we automatically cover travelers’ appointments at no additional cost.”
The telemedicine feature works with Faye’s app. It allows travelers to chat with the support team and then choose a video chat with a doctor. Faye allows you to browse and select a doctor by specialty, location and language.
Redpoint includes new benefits to its protection plans
Redpoint Travel Protection has made two important changes to its policies this summer. It now includes pet coverage in response to demand from travelers who want to take their dog or cat with them.
Also, Redpoint added cancellation coverage for business reasons, catering to professionals who need flexibility in their travel plans because of work-related obligations
“Alongside legacy benefits like comprehensive medical coverage, trip cancellation and interruption, and medical evacuation, Redpoint has several enhanced benefits that make their plans stand out,” says Deanna Caffrey, a director for Redpoint Resolutions.
No need to insure the total trip cost
One of the most vexing insurance problems travelers have faced is having to insure their total trip cost at the outset, when they buy their policy, in order to qualify for cancel-for-any-reason coverage or pre-existing conditions coverage. But Dan Skilken, president of TripInsurance.com, says that has changed recently.
“United States Fire Insurance Company has modified many of its plans to remove this requirement,” he says. “This is a big benefit because now travelers can insure their trip costs as they make their deposits and modify that trip cost as they make additional travel plans or additional trip deposits, rather than paying all the insurance costs upfront for a trip that is far in the future.”
Even non-insurance companies are upgrading this summer
Even some non-insurance companies are getting in on the act. Medjet, an air medical transport and security response program for travelers, has upgraded its offering this summer, too.
Since travel requirements were constantly shifting during the Covid pandemic, so Medjet added new resources for customers such as Sherpa, which details entry requirements for countries.
“Now, with the European Travel Information and Authorisation System looming, even European travel will get a bit more complicated,” adds Michael Hallman, CEO of Medjet. “Our members have lots of questions, and now seek much higher levels of service, so we’ve recently beefed up our membership services team.”
Travel insurance is better than ever, but …
The latest policies are more flexible, comprehensive and generous than they’ve been in the past. Despite these policy improvements, travelers still have to do their homework before buying a policy. (My complete guide to travel insurance will help.)
But overall, the latest upgrades in travel insurance are good news for travelers. As you plan your upcoming holiday trips, you may find an extra benefit or two. Consider it an early holiday gift from the travel insurance industry.