By Allison Lampert and Noor Zainab Hussain
March 7 (Reuters) – COVID-19 insurance coverage insurance policies are more and more becoming a member of passports and sunscreen as trip staples, creating alternatives for insurers as extra international locations require obligatory protection in case guests fall unwell from the coronavirus.
Airline bookings are on the rise in some areas, driving cautious hopes of a revival in summer season site visitors, but additionally elevating fears amongst vacationer locations of getting hit with payments ought to vacationers turn out to be stranded by the virus.
Greater than a dozen international locations from Aruba to Thailand require COVID-19 protection for guests, with Jordan the most recent to contemplate such protections, organizers of an emergency providers plan instructed Reuters.
The marketplace for all sorts of COVID-19 journey protection is estimated to be between $30 billion to $40 billion a 12 months, in line with journey insurance coverage marketing consultant Robyn Ingle, with corporations like AXA and AIG underwriting safety.
However a surge in demand for COVID-19 protection additionally means insurers may very well be on the hook for large payouts ought to one other wave of infections result in massive numbers of cancellations or vacationers getting sick.
“Journey insurance coverage and safety providers are taking off at tempo with journey because it resumes, stated Dan Richards, chief govt for journey danger and disaster administration agency International Rescue.
COVID-19 insurance coverage advantages usually cowl remedy as much as $100,000, and will embrace coronavirus testing prices and providers like evacuation or native burial or cremation. These advantages, launched by insurers in mid-2020, are offered both as add-ons or as separate insurance policies with protection for sickness or quarantine.
Jeremy Murchland, president of Indiana-based journey insurance coverage firm Seven Corners, stated vacationers at the moment are “extra more likely to insure their journeys,” as extra international locations require COVID-19 protection.
A journey insurance coverage plan that features journey safety, medical expense protection for COVID-19 and safety for bags and private results usually prices 4% to eight% of the greenback worth of the journey, Murchland stated.
Whereas the pandemic has battered journey, demand for protection has created alternative for the hard-hit insurance coverage trade and a distinct segment to develop new merchandise, corporations stated.
For instance in June, Seven Corners launched an elective medical journey plan with protection for coronavirus bills, Murchland stated. By 12 months’s finish, the product with coronavirus protection generated about 80% of whole medical journey plan gross sales.
Seven Corners additionally noticed a 20% rise in vacationers shopping for extremely priced “cancel for any cause” insurance policies in 2020. The insurance policies cowl cancellation prices associated to the virus.
Some international locations have mandated journey insurance coverage for incoming guests – both by together with it of their entry or visa charges or by requiring proof of protection, stated insurer World Nomads.
Jordan is evaluating whether or not to require a compulsory flat charge for guests as a part of a program from International Rescue and the International Journey and Tourism Resilience Council, stated council co-chair Taleb Rifai. This system, which prices as much as $100 per particular person, covers sure disasters and diseases like COVID-19.
Jordan’s Tourism Bureau was not out there for remark.
It’s not clear how protection demand will evolve as many extra individuals turn out to be inoculated in opposition to the coronavirus with vaccines.
Frank Comito, a particular advisor to the Caribbean Resort and Tourism Affiliation, stated some funds vacationers have complained about obligatory protection. And a few international locations may discontinue or chill out the requirement as “we transfer away from the pandemic.”
Rifai, former secretary common of the UN’s World Tourism Group, stated he expects international locations will proceed requiring protection because the vaccines “will take years” to roll out globally. (Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bangaluru; Modifying by Denny Thomas and Invoice Berkrot)