Now that we know we will soon be able to cruise again, the question is how can we do it safely? For my part, I am trusting the science and the vaccines. Each day the news about the vaccines brings more optimism: In nations where vaccinations are being ramped up, Covid-19 cases and deaths are plunging. Life is returning to normal.
There was more encouraging news this morning. The New York Times reported that “immunity lasts at least a year, possibly a lifetime, improving over time especially after vaccination, according to two new studies.” While the article underscores the efficacy of the vaccines, it goes on to say that vaccinated people who have not had Covid will likely need a booster shot. I’ve not had Covid, but still, the studies reassure me that I am getting good protection from the vaccine.
While I now feel safe to travel to Europe (and other destinations again), two questions remain: How can I protect my travel investment from expenses I may incur should I cancel my trip? And what happens should I become ill – or test positive for Covid-19 – while abroad? The latter, as you probably know, requires quarantining for a number of days.
Most cruise companies will have their own policies and assurances designed to provide peace of mind. Such assurances are needed. Again, we turn to The New York Times, which reports flights may be in flux for a few months and there may be some hiccups with hotel refunds if needed.
That’s where trip insurance comes in. Trip insurance can protect against cancellations and travel interruptions. For answers to those questions, I turned to Meghan Walch, product manager for InsureMyTrip. Meghan tells me that her company’s data shows that 16 percent of those buying travel insurance through InsureMyTrip are now opting for maximum trip cancellation flexibility known as CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason).
“CFAR gives the insured the flexibility to cancel their trip for any reason at least two days prior to departure and be reimbursed a percentage of their prepaid, non-refundable trip cost (as long as all other eligibility requirements are met),” she says. “This could include the insured canceling their trip because they don’t feel comfortable traveling to a country that is still under an elevated CDC warning.”
While CFAR coverage does tend to cost more than a traditional travel insurance policy, having such a policy can provide peace of mind, and we recommend that at the least, you look at the coverage and costs to decide if it’s right for you.
For Americans and possibly other nationalities, what if you’re finishing up your cruise abroad and fail the CDC requirement to test negative for Covid-19 36 hours before boarding your flight back to the United States? You’ll find the CDC’s guidance here.
Meghan tells us that there may be some coverage if someone has to quarantine before returning to the United States. We should point out that InsureMyTrip is a travel insurance comparison site, representing many travel insurance companies, and policies, of course, vary by company.
She says that broadly speaking, there are several things to keep in mind about travel insurance and a positive Covid test abroad.
- The cost of the covid test required to get back to the United States most likely won’t be covered.
- If the test comes back positive, that alone typically doesn’t trigger coverage. A physician would most likely have to determine that the illness is preventing you from continuing your trip. Also, a physician would have to order the quarantine (be sure to know how your policy defines “quarantine”).
- In the event a physician does order you to physically quarantine, there may be coverage under trip interruption for the unused portion of your trip and/or travel delay for additional expenses, such as lodging and food, that you may incur.
- It’s important to review the travel delay benefit coverage wording and limits as they can differ by plan and are typically shown with a per-day limit as well as a total maximum limit.
- Emergency medical benefits may be available if you have to seek medical attention during your trip due to Covid-related illness.
- Some companies may extend coverage for a set number of days after the original scheduled return date. It’s important to read the policy documentation to see how your plan might work.
The bottom line? Read the fine print. “We’ve seen most providers adapt their plans to cover Covid-related illness as they would any other covered illness,” Meghan says. “It’s important for customers to read their policy documents to see how the provider defines an illness and quarantine so that they know what requirements may need to be satisfied in the event of a claim.”