When you’re finally able to get back on the slopes in an overseas country, you want to be able to focus on the fun stuff – like how much snow is falling during your stay, and where the best après is.
And while there’s nothing sexy about travel insurance, it’s more important than ever in COVID-19 times. The last thing you want is to be forking out big bucks for a hospital stay during a pandemic, especially in countries such as the US, where the medical doesn’t come cheap.
Of course, there are currently limited options when it comes to international travel insurance – and information changes all the time, so take the below with the fluidity with which it is delivered, and read the fine print carefully. You may have to pay extra for COVID-19 insurance, the same as paying extra for skiing insurance options, but the peace of mind alone will be worth it.
We’ve done your homework for you on what IS possible right now, so that you can travel in peace – or at least feeling slightly more informed.
Yes! You can get insurance… to an extent.
Word on the street – or at least in our Facebook groups – is that Covermore is the best option. If you have to cancel your trip due to being diagnosed with COVID-19 ahead of departure, you can look at claiming back cancellation fees; and while on the trip, you can look at claiming back some costs if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to extend your stay, go into quarantine or seek medical treatment.
The trickiest part here, however, is the government travel warnings and changing nature of circumstances in a pandemic. Covermore won’t cover costs in the above circumstances if the Smart Traveller website deems your destination as “do not travel” – even if it was not under that restriction when you booked.
At this point in time – and as of late October, 2021 – the USA, Canada and Japan and most European ski destinations are all advised to “exercise a high degree of caution” (level two) rather than “do not travel” (level four), but it’s impossible to say what might happen next.
Covermore also won’t cover you if your country of destination has their entry requirements change and you are denied entry, so it’s worth carefully reading up on your country of choice and seeing if it’s likely that they might shut the borders to where you’re travelling from.
And of course, you aren’t covered if you are unable to travel due to a lockdown; so you’ll need to keep your fingers crossed that your own city isn’t impacted around the time of your travel plans.
Read more about Covermore and their extensive FAQs here. You can also find more information on their ski insurance options, including the possibility to upgrade to insurance that covers off-piste such as heli and backcountry.
On their International Comprehensive plan, NIB also cover overseas medical expenses if you get sick with coronavirus on your trip; they will also include medical evacuation and repatriation if medically necessary, and cover for several coronavirus-related events, such as cover for quarantine expenses and trip cancellation if you are diagnosed with coronavirus.
However, they will only pay up to $2500 worth of costs per primary traveller – which may very well not be enough to cover your hospital bills. They also caveat that travel must only be to regions without a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning; cover won’t be extended if there is a travel ban; and they warn against knowingly travelling into a COVID hotspot.
Your NIB cover may also be impacted if you aren’t vaccinated, although they may take special consideration for those who have medical exemptions.
They don’t have specific snow travel insurance information, but you can click here to find out more about their COVID-19 policy.
Southern Cross also offers some cover, but only for fully vaccinated travellers; and, as with the above options, it doesn’t apply in the case of government restrictions, lockdowns, or any pause to quarantine-free travel.
If your trip does go ahead, and if it’s to a Level 1 or Level 2-classified destination on Smart Traveller, they’ll cover COVID-19 related medical expenses (no limited mentioned) and some cancellation costs.
Some companies (such as Travel Insurance Direct) are taking a break from international travel policies altogether right now, so they can gear up completely when it’s back to business as usual.
Other big names such as Allianz are careful to caveat that they don’t cover claims that arise from, or are related to, an epidemic or pandemic; however, you might be covered under selected benefits if you are diagnosed with suffering from a sickness such as COVID-19 (confusing, we know).
Other things to consider
Be sure to check if your destination of choice requires proof that you’re insured for COVID-19 medical expenses; Singapore, for example, requires a minimum coverage of SGD $30,000. And while you won’t be skiing in Singapore, you may have a stopover there – be sure to check all destinations along your journey, even if you’re not there for long.
If you’re skiing in Italy, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden or Slovenia, it’s worth keeping in mind that Australia has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with these countries (along with others such as New Zealand, Ireland the UK). Aussie travellers can access medically necessary health services in an emergency, although you may still have to pay some fees.
The bottom line
If only we had a crystal ball… travelling is still risky business, and there’s no telling what will continue to happen with changing travel advice and lockdowns.
It all depends on how keen you are to get overseas and back to the slopes; however, your best bet is to have some cash squirreled away in the bank in case of emergency should you not be covered by insurance but still need a hospital visit.
We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for safe travels for all, and that you are duly rewarded with bluebird powder days on the other side.