What if another pandemic happens while you’re on vacation?

What if another pandemic happens while you're on vacation

What if another pandemic happens while you’re on vacation? What if coronavirus resurges this summer, just as you’re leaving for a little R&R? Or during the winter holidays?

Travelers are looking for ways to protect their next trip from another wave of the pandemic. One of them is Baron Hanson, who takes frequent trips between Washington, D.C., and Palm Beach, Fla.

“We’re traveling by car,” says Hanson, a consultant who lives in McLean, Va. “We’ll wear gloves and disinfect surfaces ourselves with wipes.”

There are lots of ways to protect your vacation from an unwanted sequel to the current health crisis. They include meticulous planning, steering clear of potentially dangerous destinations and selecting the right travel insurance policy. Smart travelers will be thinking about a second outbreak long before they start planning their trip.

“Health and safety have always been a concern for people while traveling,” says John Gobbels, the chief operating officer of Medjet, a membership program that provides air transport in medical emergencies and travel security. “But coming out of this global crisis, I think there’s just a greater awareness of how vulnerable we all are.”

Your credit card might protect you, but read the fine print

Your credit card may offer some protection, but read your card member agreement before you book your trip, experts say.

“Certain credit cards, like the American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer emergency medical transportation coverage,” says Sean Messier, a credit industry analyst at Credit Card Insider. “But bear in mind that you must require medical assistance to actually use these evacuation services, and even then, they’re only designed to get you to medical care, not home.”

It’s not just how you travel but where. Initial booking data suggests more travelers will choose domestic destinations over international ones. Michael Heflin, senior vice president of hotel relations at Travel Leaders Group, says clients are showing interest in driving out west and to destinations in less-populated areas. “Places like Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada, as well as Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, are great options for post confinement,” Heflin says.

What if another pandemic happens while you’re on vacation? Get with the STEP

Those who do opt to travel internationally will want to sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. It’s a free service that provides essential information from the U.S. Embassy in your destination country on safety conditions there.

“Enrolling in STEP will also help the embassy contact you in the event of an emergency,” says Michael O’Rourke, chief executive of Advanced Operational Concepts, a security consulting firm.

If something goes sideways on your international trip, the U.S. Embassy will help you get back. But O’Rourke says you shouldn’t rely exclusively on information from the State Department when making decisions about how to come home. You should also consult local news sources, other governments and contacts on the ground.

To a certain extent, travel companies have already helped to make vacations less vulnerable to a pandemic. They’re offering “no risk” bookings that you can cancel without having to pay any fees. Even airlines, for which change fees and cancellation fees are a major source of revenue, are waiving them in the wake of the covid-19 outbreak.

You can also find help and resources on my consumer advocacy site.

Consider travel insurance

Insurance can help, too. But its usefulness is limited, as many travelers have discovered during the current pandemic.

“All travel insurance policies have a list of exclusions,” says Terry Boynton, president of Yonder Travel Insurance, a travel insurance comparison site. “The reason for these exclusions, like a global pandemic, is that insurance companies must be able to assess the risk for a covered event to determine the pricing of the product. In cases like pandemics, the risk is extremely difficult to calculate because of its unpredictability.”

Travel insurance still covers a cancellation if you get sick and are quarantined. “There is also cancellation coverage for the financial repercussions of the pandemic, such as a customer’s job layoff or if a travel supplier goes insolvent,” says Kasara Barto, a spokeswoman for Squaremouth.com, a travel insurance site.

Cancel for any reason insurance can help

However, most standard travel insurance policies exclude pandemics. For coverage that doesn’t, you’ll need a more expensive “cancel for any reason” policy. They cost 10 to 12 percent of the price of your vacation and refund part of your vacation costs if you decide to cancel.

Jonathan Breeze, CEO of AardvarkCompare, a travel insurance site, says cancel-for-any-reason policies now account for half his site’s sales. Before the pandemic, those policies represented just 5 percent of sales. Note that such policies are time-sensitive: They must be booked within two to three weeks of the first trip payment, Breeze says.

Pay close attention to the terms. Travel insurance companies have been changing them because of the pandemic, reducing the refunded amount or providing vouchers instead of cash. Some companies have stopped selling the policies altogether.

But for many travelers, protecting a trip in case a pandemic happens while you’re on vacation means careful planning. David Kazarian, a pharmacist from Tampa, still has plans to take a river cruise in Europe in late June. He’s planning to bring plenty of disinfectant and disinfectant wipes. And he’ll be treating all the surfaces in his berth after boarding. But he doesn’t intend to let the threat of the coronavirus sink his vacation.

“If the trip isn’t canceled by the cruise line, I’m going,” he says.

What if another pandemic happens while you’re on vacation? There’s only so much you can do

When it comes to protecting your vacation from a pandemic, there’s only so much you can do.

“The coronavirus outbreak, at this point, is unpredictable,” says Roland Rust, a business professor at the University of Maryland. “That means that travel plans may end up being canceled. Consumers should maintain as much flexibility as possible.”

In the end, that may be the best way to protect your vacation: Have a Plan B — and C — just in case there’s a covid-19 sequel.

Posted in The Navigator Tagged , , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Global Rescue

Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

%d bloggers like this: