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Intro Travel Assistance Covid

Travel Insurance vs. Travel Assistance During COVID-19 

The pandemic has changed just about everything when it comes to travel, especially our considerations for travel safety. Pre-COVID, the process of booking a trip was mostly optimistic as travelers planned for sight-seeing excursions, hotel stays, restaurants and leisure activities. Now, booking travel includes those plans in addition to many “what-if” emergency scenarios.

The US Travel Insurance Association reports that people are more likely to buy travel insurance plans when there are more factors out of their control. In 2020, a study commissioned by NerdWallet reported that “only 1 in 5 Americans (20%) purchased travel insurance for leisure trips before COVID-19, but 45% say they’re likely to purchase travel insurance for future leisure trips after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As people start planning a trip and wonder about what kinds of problems they could face while away, it’s essential to understand the travel protection plans and coverage options that will help you in unexpected dilemmas or emergencies.

Every traveler wants reassurance that the investment they make in their travel plans won't go to waste. 

Here's what you should know about travel assistance and travel insurance in the wake of COVID-19 and how to select the right protection for your trip.



Travel Assistance Covid - COVID Specific travel concerns

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COVID-specific travel concerns


Safety has always been a top concern for travelers when choosing destinations, but personal safety takes on new meaning during a pandemic. Health concerns are now feeling intertwined with safety concerns, as health risks while abroad could lead to an inability to travel back home for undetermined periods. 

The U.S. State Department frequently updates travelers on the top security and health issues worldwide. Sign up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for the latest information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offers advice and information for domestic travel vs. international travel, including destination-specific travel health notices, quarantine rules, United States reentry requirements and more. Travelers can find destination-specific entry requirements or restrictions through the destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Of course, beyond all of the country- or destination-specific rules and regulations, travelers also have to consider health care access, whether their health insurance will cover health care emergencies while traveling, and what the options are should a health emergency arise. 


Travel Assistance Covids - Knowledge is power

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Knowledge is power


Every traveler has to assess his or her personal risk before traveling during a pandemic. From vaccines to preexisting conditions to individual comfort level, every person will have a unique set of circumstances that influences their decision to travel. Unfortunately, trying to track down every piece of information you need to know for your specific circumstances can be an overwhelming endeavor. 

“At-risk travelers have a higher likelihood of requiring some type of medical assistance overseas. Receiving care from an unknown foreign medical provider already provides a level of anxiety, which is now further complicated with the stress on the local medical infrastructure dealing with COVID-19,” says Ryan DeStefano, VP of Global Assistance at On Call International.

“On top of that is the level of complexity required to move a patient back home with all the pandemic restrictions. For these reasons and more, having a company help a member through all of this with effective travel assistance is more important than ever.”

An Emergency Assistance Plus® (EA+®) travel assistance membership provides its members with access to its experienced and knowledgeable Global Response Center, which is up to date on travel risks, including health infrastructure, COVID-19 trends, travel restrictions, alerts, and warnings, and testing/quarantine requirements. So rather than spending weeks researching every last detail before your vacation, a travel assistance membership can do the heavy lifting for you.

“Safety is never guaranteed. Considering the changes that the world has gone through during the COVID-19 pandemic, this saying has more meaning than ever. While navigating through a foreign health care system could have been overwhelming pre-pandemic, new regulations and safety measures can make it formidable,” says Kristin Toth, Senior Director of Operations at On Call International.

“Whether you’re being seen for a simple injury or illness or seeking treatment for a more serious condition, it’s important to be in touch with your assistance company. If you are hospitalized and unable to complete your trip, something as simple as booking plane tickets to return home can be complicated post-pandemic. The earlier that the assistance company becomes involved in your medical or travel emergency, the more prepared we will be to help get you or your traveling companion back home safely.”


Travel Assistance Covid - What is travel assistance


What is Travel Assistance?


Travel assistance is a different type of service. It’s more appropriate to think of it as a protection rather than coverage. It includes access to advice and expertise, providing guidance on medical concerns, travel information, and security concerns. It also provides medical transport services that are rarely, if ever, covered by your medical insurance.

“It is a one-stop-shop to everything related to travel to not only help you when you are seriously ill, but also to give you peace of mind while traveling,” says Thomas Davidson, President of On Call International.

DeStefano describes travel assistance as a real-time guide that lends essential knowledge and expertise to its members during critical times.

“Traveling internationally with the promise of receiving assistance from an organization who spends every day problem solving international travel issues and all of their ambiguity — as well as guiding hundreds of people through pop-up crises all over the world, both big and small — provides the comfort necessary to focus on enjoying the trip by knowing that you have experts traveling virtually with you ready to assist you at any time with any issue,” says DeStefano.

Features and services of travel assistance include:

  • Destination intelligence. Know essential information before you leave, such as weather, travel restrictions, and special events at your intended destination. Get real-time updates on political and social situations, too.
  • Alternative arrangements. If you need to leave due to political unrest, health hazards, or other reasons, a membership like EA+ will help you obtain visas and make alternative flight arrangements.
  • Smooth travel perks. Lost luggage assistance, cash advance assistance, language interpretation assistance and more help ensure your trip goes smoothly without the little things getting in the way.
  • Document replacement assistance. If you lose an important document, like your passport, your travel assistance membership will help you replace it promptly to avoid interruptions during your trip.
  • Medical assistance. Transfer your insurance information, replace your prescriptions, and access a 24/7 locator service to help match you with specialists in your area, wherever you may be.
  • Medical evacuation. In an emergency, your medical care will be monitored to ensure you're getting appropriate care while services like air or ambulance evacuation, including a nurse escort when necessary, ensure your safety during a crisis.
  • Expensive, unexpected services. Transportation to join a hospitalized member, return of minors, transportation after stabilization, return of remains, return of traveling companion, RV return, etc. 

While some EA+ services fall under the assistance-only category — meaning the member benefits include assistance with planning, coordination or bookings but don’t cover additional fees — there are also many areas in which EA+ does pay for associated costs.

EA+ Paid Services Include:

  • Emergency Medical Evacuation to a more appropriate facility if your current facility can't properly treat the medical condition.
  • Assistance for Companions like airline tickets to bring a loved one to their bedside if they are traveling alone, airfare home for children or grandchildren if they are left alone because the member cannot care for them due to the medical emergency, and airline for a travel companion to either the more appropriate facility or home once the member is well enough to travel home.
  • Transportation home via one-way airline ticket once the member is medically stable to fly home.
  • Providing a Nurse Escort for transportation home to monitor the member if deemed medically necessary.
  • Return of Deceased Remains to bring the member's body home if they pass away while traveling.
  • Vehicle Return, which is sending a professional driver, or flying our a family member/friend to drive the member's vehicle back home if their medical emergency doesn't allow the member to drive it themselves.

Travel Assistance Covid - What is travel insurance

What is Travel Insurance?


When booking your trip, you’ll likely come across various options for travel insurance, also known as trip insurance. This is the coverage that will help you mitigate financial risks associated with canceling flights, hotels, and other plans. Travel insurance can also protect you if you experience a trip interruption, whether it's due to pandemic-related reasons like a shelter-in-place order during your trip or a delayed flight.

Some of the features and benefits of travel insurance:

  • Protect your investment. It's easy to spend thousands of dollars on vacation, and that's a significant investment that most people can't afford to lose. Travel insurance offers reimbursement (pending approval of your claim) should you need to cancel, change, or cut your trip short.
  • Unforeseen costs. If a flight is delayed or you arrive at your hotel to find them over-booked, travel insurance can cover the expenses of re-booking. This helps your trip go smoother and ensures you don't rack up unforeseen costs or end up canceling plans.
  • Medical reimbursement. Getting medical care overseas is expensive and can easily lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs. Travel insurance can reimburse you for medical expenses, pending approval of your claim.

Travel Assistance Covid - Understanding your coverage needs

Understanding Your Coverage Needs


As more of the global population gets vaccinated, governments reduce border restrictions and consumers gain increased confidence in the feasibility of travel, we will see the number of travelers increase. Those early adopters that are out there now and those soon to take flight in the coming weeks and months still need to be prepared for “normal” travel risks.

All travelers should know what they can do to better mitigate risks and prepare for contingencies. While there are undoubtedly several variables at play when considering vaccination timelines and the emergence of new strains of COVID-19, countries have shown that travel can resume with the right travel precautions in place


Travel Assistance Covid - travel with confidence and peace of mind

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Travel with Confidence and Peace of Mind


Travel assistance programs such as EA+ deliver peace of mind when traveling away from home. In a medical emergency, complexities such as appropriate hospital care, medical transportation or evacuation, and travel arrangements can be taken care of with minimal effort.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for additional trip and travel protections that minimize travelers’ worries, and provide essential services during emergencies.

Do not assume that a standard traveler's policy covers all emergency medical evacuations. Whether you’re concerned about choosing the safest destination, having access to the best medical care, or your ability to evacuate, EA+’s travel assistance services stand poised and steady in your corner.

Although challenges could always arise, knowing there’s a service that manages the stress for you is an invaluable weight that’s lifted.

EA+ protection includes:

  • Safe and secure emergency medical evacuation from an inappropriate facility to an appropriate one.
  • Reliable transportation after stabilization. Ensures you get home safely.
  • Professional nurse escort. If you need further care, a trained nurse will assist you on the journey back home.
  • Return travel support for your traveling companion. Going the extra step to ease tension during a trying time, EA+ will also get your spouse or companion home.

Travel Assistance Covid EA+ w Disclaimer

About Emergency Assistance Plus


EA+ is a travel assistance product that protects members whenever they are traveling away from home and become hospitalized due to injury or illness. EA+ delivers more than 20 services to help members in this time of need.

EA+ is a membership program, not an insurance plan. Once members pay the annual fee, they do not have to pay for any of the provided services. EA+ makes all arrangements and covers all of the costs for the services on the members’ behalf, so they never have to worry about submitting claims for reimbursement. Member’s have to call EA+ during their emergency to be eligible for services.

For more information about rates and membership benefits, click here.

The information provided herein is only an outline of the plan’s features. Hospitalization (admitted as an inpatient) is a requirement to be eligible for some services. All services must be arranged and provided by EA+. Please read your Member Guide carefully to understand all the services available to you, as well as any rules and regulations. Click here to view a sample of the EA+ Plan details. EA+ is only available to U.S. residents at this time. Washington state residents must be traveling more than 100 miles away from home to be eligible for EA+ services.