FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — With the holiday season just two months away, experts are urging travelers to consider buying insurance for their upcoming trips.
“Especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic with the variants, and just sort of the uncertainty of the travel landscape, the uncertainty of what the pandemic may continue to bring, how that may impact travel restrictions,” said Ragina Ali, AAA’s manager of public and government affairs. “Particularly if you’re booking a trip where you’re spending, you know, a decent amount of money, you want to protect that investment.”
A new AAA travel survey found that 55 percent of American adults are planning a vacation of at least one overnight stay before the end of next year. About one third of them say they are more likely to purchase travel insurance for those trips because of COVID-19, according to the study.
Ali said this increased interest in vacationers purchasing travel insurance is something AAA has observed over the last several months.
“We believe obviously that’s to give them some flexibility, as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 landscape, and to give them some flexibility with the travel plans due to the unpredictability of the pandemic basically,” said Ali.
According to a study of more than 50 travel insurance policies, the average cost of travel insurance in the U.S. is $148. However, not all insurance policies are the same. The study also found the cost of a comprehensive travel insurance policy was 56% more, on average, than a basic travel insurance policy.
“Travel insurance can be a great way to get that additional peace of mind, but travelers should know that there are many different types of plans that vary in terms of the coverage you’re getting,” said Christie Hudson, Expedia North America’s senior PR manager. “It’s really important to read the fine print and terms of the policy beforehand… COVID-19 related concerns may not be covered, unless you’re purchasing a more comprehensive ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policy.”
Ali added that AAA has seen insurance companies being “a little more flexible” with some policies and fee changes throughout the course of the pandemic.
AAA has also observed many travelers losing money on their trips because of “significant delays” in passport processing.
“What we’ve seen and it’s been terrible is people who have booked a trip, and now they’re unable to take the trip because their passports were either set to expire, or it was their first time getting a passport and they had not received the new one yet, making it impossible for them to leave the country,” said Ali.
She recommends anyone planning on travelling outside the country order their passports at least six months prior to their trip.
Ali said it’s hard to determine how many Americans are expected to travel this holiday season because of the pandemic, but if travel is anything like it was for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, we will likely see a “robust travel period.”