What Happens If You Contract COVID-19 Before Your Trip?
Testing positive before your trip is a nightmare, yet with the transmissibility of Omicron and the U.S. topping 1 million cases today, it’s not unlikely.
Most countries still require a 24 to 72 hour PCR test in order for tourists to enter, so many American travelers are likely to face sudden cancellations if they test positive for COVID-19 before a trip.
Although it’s not ideal, there are ways you can prevent financial loss and reduce your disappointment.
Have A Suitable Travel Insurance Policy
Our top recommendation is getting travel insurance and, most importantly, travel insurance covering COVID-19. Many travel insurance policies—as you might expect—don’t cover COVID-19 expenses or cancellations.
Travel insurance is something every traveler should have, regardless of whether there’s a global pandemic. Many travelers, however, will avoid buying travel insurance to save money, etc.
As travel writers and regular international travelers, we’ve seen our fair share of travel insurance policies. It’s safe to say: some are better than others. HeyMondo is a travel insurance company that we’ve used during the pandemic. Their travel insurance policies have great all-around coverage for COVID-19 related issues.
Here’s what HeyMondo covers:
1. Medical Care Coverage
Every traveler should ensure their coverage includes medical care if they contract COVID-19 abroad. Sometimes, Thailand being a prime example, the nation will require proof of travel insurance covering COVID-19-related medical expenses.
Many other countries don’t require proof of travel insurance covering COVID-19-related medical expenses. Therefore, it’s up to individual travelers to insure themselves. HeyMondo covers you for medical expenses and includes a 24/7 doctor chat on the app. That’s something that could cost you a fortune without travel insurance.
2. Accommodation Costs Coverage
Furthermore, travelers should ensure their travel insurance covers accommodation costs if they have to quarantine. Travelers may test positive on arrival in a country. Unfortunately, that forces travelers into quarantine (often at a traveler’s own expense.) Some nations have strict quarantine policies, whereby you have to quarantine at expensive government hotels if you test positive on arrival. HeyMondo will cover these costs.
3. Trip Interruption Coverage
Third, travelers must have travel insurance covering trip interruption if they become sick before their trip even starts. Make sure your insurance policy covers you for contracting COVID-19 before your trip starts. Unsurprisingly, some travel insurance policies will cover you if you become sick, but not if you become sick from COVID-19. HeyMondo will cover you if you contract COVID-19 before your trip.
4. PCR Test Coverage
Sometimes, a local doctor will medically prescribe you a PCR test when you’re overseas. PCR tests can cost between $100 to $300 each. If you’re traveling with a large family or group of friends, you may all need to take a PCR test if one member tests positive. HeyMondo will cover you for PCR test expenses.
But What If You Didn’t Have Travel Insurance?
You certainly wouldn’t be on your own if you didn’t purchase a travel insurance policy before traveling. If you’ve tested positive before your trip, don’t worry too much.
Here’s what you can do:
- Make a list of all your bookings, including hotels, flights, tours, etc. Start with the most important/expensive. Then work your way down the list of contacting each company to see what your options are.
- Check which companies will allow you to cancel without a fee. Sometimes, the company may offer a full refund, whereas other times they will charge you a fee for canceling.
- If the refund isn’t possible or cancellation fees are too costly, check if you can change the date. Many travel companies are happy to do this. However, at the start of the pandemic, some companies in the travel industry—especially airlines—were difficult about changes.
- Many companies have had flexible booking policies since early 2020. Before you book, you can check their flexible booking policy. But if you aren’t sure, check their FAQ page on the website, or better still, call them and get the answer directly. You can reach out to many travel companies via social media for answers if their toll-free numbers have long wait times.
Understandably, you’re probably freaking out if you’ve had to cancel a trip and you didn’t buy travel insurance. It’s not all that bad though. In the future, consider purchasing a travel insurance policy—which doesn’t have to be expensive—that covers you for this type of event.
Travel companies are certainly more accommodating than usual. Although you may still lose money (or maybe not), you can still work around it with the tips above.
Other Things To Consider
- The CDC recently changed the days of isolation if you’re asymptomatic to 5 days instead of 10. Some airlines aren’t on board with this, and they still require you to wait ten days before they’ll allow you to fly if you test positive before your trip. Check your specific airline before rebooking.
- Some travelers are booking through travel agents at the moment because of uncertainty. If you don’t normally book through travel agents—which goes for many young travelers—considering booking through a travel agent with expert knowledge on the current restrictions might be a good idea. They can find companies with flexible booking policies in case something goes wrong because of COVID-19.
- You should always check the company’s flexible booking policy before booking. Some airlines have become very relaxed on short-notice cancellations. Other airlines still owe travelers money from 2020. A little research before booking will make your life easier.
Testing is likely to stay in 2022 for international travel. Until the world decides to live with the virus, travelers will face these issues regularly. That’s why a good travel insurance policy is truly a godsend at the moment.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories