COVID-19 insurance policies are increasingly joining passports and sunscreen as vacation staples, creating opportunities for insurers as more countries require mandatory coverage in case visitors fall ill from the coronavirus.
Airline bookings are on the rise in some regions, driving cautious hopes of a revival in summer traffic, but also raising fears among tourist destinations of getting hit with bills should vacationers become stranded by the virus.
More than a dozen countries from Aruba to Thailand require COVID-19 coverage for visitors, with Jordan the latest to consider such protections, organizers of an emergency services plan told Reuters.
The market for all types of COVID-19 travel coverage is estimated to be between $30 billion to $40 billion a year, according to travel insurance consultant Robyn Ingle, with companies like AXA and AIG underwriting protection.
But a surge in demand for COVID-19 coverage also means insurers could be on the hook for big payouts should another wave of infections lead to large numbers of cancellations or tourists getting sick.
“Travel insurance and protection services are taking off at pace with travel as it resumes,” said Dan Richards, chief executive for travel risk and crisis management firm Global Rescue.
COVID-19 insurance benefits typically cover treatment up to $100,000, and could include coronavirus testing costs and services like evacuation or local burial or cremation. These benefits, introduced by insurers in mid-2020, are sold either as add-ons or as separate policies with coverage for illness or quarantine.