Don’t travel abroad without Covid insurance! Travel agencies no longer offer it and you might end up regretting your choices
For many of us, travel insurance is associated with those olden times, when our parents would force us to take out insurance whenever we went for a vacation. As soon as we were old enough to make our own decisions, most of us started ignoring insurance because we didn’t think it necessary. However, now that we’re dealing with a pandemic, travel insurance has acquired a new purpose. Let’s summarize what you can do if you have insurance and your travel agency cancels the trip if you fall ill with covid abroad or choose to visit a country where travel is not recommended at your own risk.
Sources: MFA CR, TV Nova, eXpres, Týden.cz, various travel agencies
Due to the spread of the delta mutation, travel conditions are slowly changing again. Some of these changes are valid starting today and the measures are being tightened up once more, just a few weeks after they have been lifted.
We’d only had a few days to enjoy our newly acquired freedom of travel before the government decided to tighten the rules again, mainly those related to travel, after a few cases of new virus mutations had been detected last week. At first, travel to some countries had been banned altogether, but once legal experts let themselves be heard that issuing the ban wasn’t in fact an option, “banned” was switched for "highly discouraged". Travel agencies reacted in a predictable manner - they canceled flights to "black" or high-risk countries on the black list, only to change their decision later.
Both the people and the travel agencies are upset
People are slowly giving up on holidays abroad; they are confused and have no idea what problems they might encounter. The most affected are those who intended to travel to one of the black countries, because they’d have to spend several days in quarantine, self-isolation and, of course, get tested.
"My friend and I wanted to go to Tunisia, because we’ve been vacationing there regularly. But now we don't know what to do, because we don't like the constant changes,"
complains forty-two-year-old Jaroslava from Prague.
"We have a lot of friends over there and they tell us that the situation isn’t that bad, on the contrary, they suffer from a lack of tourists."
Last-minute holidays are the most popular
Travel agencies are also beginning to feel at their wits’ end, as they have to react flexibly to every change. As a result, they mainly see interest in last-minute holidays. With this type of vacation, clients believe that the rules won’t change so drastically over such a short time period, or at least not to such an extent that their trip would be completely cancelled or radically changed where destination or travel conditions are concerned.
Tunisia - don't be afraid to ask
"No one has consulted with us on the forthcoming solution with regard to Tunisia, nor has our initiative in the form of proposals been taken into account, and we must now come up with an alternative solution,"
Ilona Topolová, a spokeswoman for the Blue Style office, complained to the daily Extra, adding:
"We could not cancel the existing flights to mainland Tunisia and to the island of Djerba before 5 July, as the safeguard measure in question will take effect on 5 July 2021."
The Blue Style travel agency will offer their clients a change of destination or a refund without a cancellation fee. CK Fischer and Exim Tours offered clients who had already purchased a vacation an alternative holiday in Bulgaria.
"If people aren’t interested in this alternative, we'll give them their money back,"
Petr Kostka, the spokesman for the Exim Tour travel agency, told LP-Life.
According to ČTK, many Czechs who wanted to go on holiday abroad are now considering leaving from one of our neighbouring countries where these restrictions do not apply.
Týden.cz stated that the Blue Style travel agency plans to find out the clients' interest in travelling to Tunisia, and if Czech clients seem to want to fly to this destination despite the discouragement, they will be able to satisfy the demand.
Travell insurance pays off
All these sudden and very fast changes cause discomfort not only to travel agencies, but also to the people who have already booked their vacation or planned to visit one of these destinations. Tunisia, which is an attractive and close holiday destination, has been most affected by being put on the list of countries with an extreme risk of coronavirus infection as of today.
Travel agencies weren’t prepared for the sudden ban - or “high discouragement”.
And that's where travel insurance comes into play.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as travel agencies warn against travelling without covid insurance. In case you get sick abroad, in an exotic destination, an unwanted prolonged stay could cost you a lot of money.
Custom Covid-19 insurance
Of course, it depends on where you wish to go.
If you’re travelling to a country marked in green or light orange, i.e. with only a low risk of covid, the journey is covered by ordinary travel insurance. However, if you’re headed to a red or crimson country, you will have to choose an insurance company that factors covid risk in its insurance plan. Claims payment differs between individual insurance companies, but the amounts are comparable.
Kooperativa's spokesman, Milan Káňa, says that Kooperativa covers 80% of all these costs - for food, accommodation and the return journey.
“Provided that evidence of the expenditure is produced, we will cover the costs of accommodation up to 30,000 crowns,"
Eva Svobodová, Uniq's spokeswoman, said for TV Nova.
"The coverage limit is 15,000 for accommodation and 15,000 crowns for a return journey to the Czech Republic,"
says Marie Petrovová, spokeswoman for Allianz.
"If you are travelling to a country to which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic does not recommend travelling due to Covid-19, or recommends postponing the trip, we offer the Excelent insurance option, which covers medical expenses related to Covid-19 in the amount of 25 million crowns,
says sales representative of the insurance company Axa, Ema Davidová.
"For other countries, we offer different options, but the Excelent insurance has the highest coverage and limits and is valid anywhere in the world."
The Axa insurance company also ensures that, if you’re staying in a country where complications related to Covid-19 are covered and you have taken out the right kind of insurance, the costs of accommodation and meals within the ordered preventive quarantine as well as the return journey will also be covered. In cases connected with preventive quarantine, the client has an agreed-upon co-participation of 20% of the insurance indemnity limit.
A family can save hundreds of thousands
For a family of four, weekly Covid-19 insurance costs about 2,000 crowns. But it can help you save tens of thousands. Quarantine in the United Arab Emirates, for example, costs about 4,500 crowns per day, and a new plane ticket can cost as much as 15,000 - a total of 60,000 per person!
Jan Papež, the vice-chairman of the Association of Travel Agencies, recommended on TV Nova that people take out insurance, because it makes all possible complications the insurance company's problem.
"Repatriations are no longer a thing, that ended in April last year,"
Eva Davidová, the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said for TV Nova.
"Now it's up to individual tourists to inform themselves about the conditions."
Don't try to save on insurance, it won't pay off
All insurance companies offer different variants of Covid-19 insurance policies when travelling abroad. All you have to do is choose the country you are travelling to, the number of people and the type of insurance you are interested in. Travel agencies no longer routinely include supplementary Covid insurance in the price of the trip, even though they recommend their clients to get it. The price of insurance is typically about 5% of the price of the trip.
However, if you want to travel to a foreign country, it is always better to take out a specific type of insurance according to your chosen destination and the situation there. It is also a good idea to find out your insurance company's assistance service number, so you have someone to turn to in case of complications.