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What Would a COVID-19 Vaccine Mean for International Travel Insurance in 2021?

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In the last month, we’ve seen many positive news stories about COVID-19 vaccines. First, Pfizer and Moderna announced that their vaccines, developed separately, appeared to be between 94.5% and 95% effective against the coronavirus.

Most recently, British regulators announced to great fanfare that they had quickly approved the Pfizer vaccine, making them the first to take steps towards a nation-wide roll-out. This set off a small flurry of barbs between American and British health officials as to which country has a better regulatory process, in an exchange that many people termed ‘vaccine nationalism’.

With these positive steps being made and an effective vaccine on the horizon, many individuals are wondering what this means for international travel, especially with regards to international travel insurance in North America.

Today, we’ll discuss how the travel and international travel insurance industry may handle these developments, and when we can expect to be traveling freely again.

How Will a COVID-19 Vaccine Change Travel?

One of the questions that’s still up in the air about both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is whether they’re able to stop people from spreading COVID-19. Right now, they can prevent people from getting ill, but as we know, asymptomatic people can still infect others.

This means that many of the precautions that are in place today will need to continue into 2021 and beyond. These precautions have been taken by individual countries, as well as airlines and other private companies.

Some countries require proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken a maximum of 72 hours before departure. To facilitate this, several airlines and airports have begun offering rapid antigen testing: a less reliable test, but one that can be performed quickly. In the future, airports may start to offer full COVID-19 tests, to make it easier for travelers to get tested.

Tracking Vaccines

Another way that travel may change is with the introduction of passports or other tracking tools to identify whether an individual has taken the COVID-19 vaccine. This would allow vaccination information to be shared between airlines, governments, and other official entities.

This technology is still being developed, but the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is in the process of rolling out the IATA Travel Pass, which will “manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travelers,” says the organization.

How Will These Changes Affect Travel Insurance Abroad?

Insurance is one of the most important aspects of traveling internationally, and it has already adapted and changed in light of COVID-19. One of the most important changes that many insurance companies made was removing their exclusions about pandemics, which allowed people affected by COVID-19 to claim costs associated with canceling or delaying their trip or receiving vital medical coverage.

With the introduction of the vaccine, many insurance underwriters may amend their policies to exclude people who have intentionally chosen to forgo an available vaccine. This should not include anyone with explicit medical exemptions but will instead target otherwise-healthy individuals who declined the vaccine.

This type of exclusion is already in place for those who choose not to get vaccinated for tropical diseases like yellow fever or malaria and travel to affected areas anyway.

Individuals may also need to show proof of vaccination status to be eligible for certain types of travel abroad insurance.

Stay Up to Date on International Insurance News at Visitor Guard®

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the travel industry as we know it. To stay protected, you need to be informed.

At Visitor Guard®, you can find all the latest news on travel insurance, COVID-19, and other travel tips to keep you safe. Our staff are dedicated to bringing you the best possible travel insurance available today. Our website makes it easy to search through insurance policies by criteria including age, length of trip, and more, then find the best policy that meets all your needs. Shop online today to find the best match.


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