In 2020, when the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, unexpectedly spread throughout the world, it brought new challenges as far as traveling with growing medical safety concerns. With trips being canceled, including the pause in cruising, what would be covered and not be covered by travel insurance policies?
As the pandemic continues, what updates and enhancements with travel insurance products have been introduced?
At the recent ASTA Global Conference, I met with Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications, Allianz Partners, a leading travel insurance and assistance company. In our meeting, he talked about the company’s products and new enhancements that have been rolled out.
Travel insurance is really the best way to protect a trip from the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. The enhancements that Allianz Partners has added to its travel insurance products provide more coverage.
Epidemic Enhancements from Allianz Partners
In March 2020, Allianz Partners put into place some temporary accommodations to assist travelers who had been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, then introduced some enhancements in March 2021. These were epidemic enhancements for its per-trip travel product, which is insurance coverage for one trip.
Durazo said, “The enhancement epidemic coverage that we formalized in March of 2021 includes emergency medical coverage and emergency transportation coverage for customers who become ill with COVID-19 or any serious illness. Specifically, the enhancements add epidemic-related illness as a covered reason to cancel or interrupt a trip or seek reimbursement for emergency medical care, emergency medical transportation, change fees and loyalty points redeposit fees.”
He explained, “The product enhancements also allow insured customers to cancel or interrupt their trip if they or their traveling companion have been individually ordered to quarantine, regardless of whether they are ill or have tested positive for a disease. The trip interruption and travel delay benefits on certain plans will also provide coverage if a customer or their traveling companion is denied boarding by their travel carrier due to suspicion of illness. These epidemic enhancements are currently available on certain Allianz Partners travel insurance products offered through retail partners and directly to consumers in most states.”
Following the March 2021 roll-out of epidemic enhancements to its retail per-trip products, Allianz Partners on August 3, 2021, added coverage for epidemic-related cancellations, interruptions, delays and medical emergencies to some of its annual products. Annual products are ones that people can purchase to cover multiple trips taken within a year. These are available from travel advisors and directly through allianztravelinsurance.com.
More on Medical Insurance Policy Component
Durazo then discussed coverage for customers who might become ill with COVID-19 and then need to be quarantined. He explained, “Many of our products include coverage for customers who become ill with COVID-19 or a future pandemic, are individually ordered to quarantine or are denied boarding due to a suspected illness. Responding to requirements at certain destinations that travelers have coverage for quarantine-related accommodations, Allianz’s product enhancements provide trip interruption coverage if an insured customer or their traveling companion is individually ordered to quarantine while on their trip.”
He said, “Under these benefits, insured customers may be eligible for reimbursement of the cost of additional food, lodging and transportation while quarantined. Additionally, as a temporary accommodation, customers who become ill with COVID-19 while on their trip will not be subject to the trip interruption benefit’s five-day maximum limit for additional accommodation and transportation expenses. The maximum daily limit for such expenses and the maximum trip interruption benefit limit still apply.”
Durazo shared this site with more information: https://www.allianztravelinsurance.com/coverage-alerts/2019-novel-coronavirus.htm
Allianz Partners’ Emergency Physician and Medical Consultant
Allianz Partners’ Assistance Team provides round-the-clock care when a customer needs medical assistance. The team manages emergency medical evacuations and provides referrals to local medical providers, payment guarantees and medical monitoring.
Dr. Eugene (Gene) Delaune, MD, is Allianz’s senior medical consultant. The “Travel Doctor,” an experienced emergency physician, is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians (FACEP) and a former Air Force flight surgeon. As a consultant to Allianz Partners, Dr. Delaune provides medical direction for the care of patients who have been seriously injured or who have become ill while traveling away from home. He determines the need for, and the means of, medical evacuation, including by air ambulance.
Allianz Partners’ TravelSmart™ App
Allianz Partners created a special TravelSmart™ App, which has been designed to help people travel safely, keep organized and get help when needed. It’s a free app, and people don’t have to be an Allianz Partners policy holder to use it. The TravelSmart™ app includes the following:
- Policy Details – On the home screen, a person can access their travel insurance plan under “Policies.” From the actual policy number and the plan’s effective coverage dates, a person can view their coverage details.
- Real Time Flight Status Tracking – The app lets people search their upcoming flights, on-time status and even gate information for flights departing within three days.
- Emergency Contact – The orange ‘Contact’ button on the home screen takes the user to local emergency numbers, including ambulance, fire, police and embassy contacts. Also, the user can call Allianz’s 24/7 medical assistance and customer service from anywhere in the world.
- File and Track Claims – A person can file and track claims as well as start the claims process.
- Around Me – This special feature uses geolocation that helps a person find the nearest hospitals, doctors, U.S. embassies and police stations.
- Medical Translator – This feature is a medication dictionary and allows a user to find universal pharmaceutical names for hundreds of different medicines. It helps with getting prescriptions refilled and provides translations for over 60 illnesses, injuries and first aid needs.
- Alerts Center and Real Time Notifications – The TravelSmart™ Alerts feature timely location-based advisories about events that could potentially impact a trip.
Purchasing Allianz Travel Insurance
Allianz products are available from travel advisors and from leading travel suppliers – cruise lines, airlines, tour operators and others. Travelers also can purchase products directly at allianztravelinsurance.com.
Keeping Updated on Travel Insurance
Keeping on top of the latest updates and enhancements in travel insurance options is even more critical today as you plan your next group trip. Using professional resources like Allianz Partners is now even more important.
By Cindy Bertram
Cindy Bertram has 15+ years of cruise industry expertise in marketing, content creation, sales and training as well as social media. Her MBA from Loyola University Chicago complements her high creative edge and liberal arts BA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.