Travel insurer Seven Corners has started two new products tailored to vacations in the age of coronavirus: one policy specifically covers medical expenses incurred due to Covid-19 infection while traveling overseas, and another helps motorists as road trips replace flights and cruises as the preferred means of summer and fall travel.
“Travel trends, in general, have changed,” said Jeremy Murchland, president of the Indianapolis-based company, which sells both comprehensive travel insurance policies and medical coverage-only plans.
“A lot of people are electing to take road trips for the summer as opposed to air travel,” he added. “We also took the opportunity [of the pandemic] to develop a ‘plus’ line of travel insurance that provides a specific coverage for Covid-19.”
When pandemic lockdowns brought worldwide travel largely to a halt this spring, many travelers who had purchased trip insurance — whether itinerary cancellation coverage, a medical plan or a policy including both — found themselves unable get paid on Covid-19 claims.
“Some people bought insurance thinking they knew what it was, but then went to file a claim and realized they don’t have coverage,” said Murchland.
In fact, online trip insurance marketplace Squaremouth.com found that many providers stopped covering coronavirus-related losses as early as Jan. 21, when the Centers for Disease Control issued its first alert, according to spokesperson Kasara Barto. (Squaremouth.com offers policies from 31 providers, including Seven Corners.)
Seven Corners, for its part, continued to sell medical coverage plans for overseas travel and comprehensive trip-cancellation insurance policies, the latter with some restrictions, as the pandemic unfolded. In fact, a total of seven providers on Squaremouth.com still offer at least some medical benefits for Covid-19 on new travel policies purchased, according to Barto.
Seven Corners’ new Liaison Travel Plus plan, however, is the only policy specifically designed to protect travelers from coronavirus-related issues, according to Murchland.
“We’re the only ones out there I’ve seen, to this point, that have ‘named’ Covid-19 coverage,” he said, noting that competitors may hedge by, for example, including or not specifically excluding coronavirus-related coverage — except when national, state or local governments issue a travel warning.
That, in effect, Murchland said, means such claims are not covered right now.
“That can confuse consumers,” he said. “We’re doing our best to put something in front of consumers that’s simple to understand and very specific, and I believe we’re the first to market with that.”
Barto at Squaremouth.com said that she, too, is “not aware of any other providers that offer medical plans specific to Covid-19.”
Read More: Travel insurer launches overseas Covid-19, domestic road trip coverage