“The court imposed the penalties after finding Allianz and AWP engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct when selling travel insurance by failing to correctly state how premiums were calculated and by allowing insurance to be sold to ineligible customers,” said the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in a press release. (Photo: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg)

On Sep. 7, an Australian court fined two units of German insurer Allianz SE for A$1.5 million (US$1.12 million) for selling travel insurance to ineligible customers and not disclosing how premiums were calculated, Reuters reported.

The fine concludes a nearly year-long civil lawsuit that was filed on Sep. 30, 2020, by Australia’s corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The lawsuit alleged that two of Allianz’s units, Allianz Australia and AWP Australia, engaged in misleading and deceptive practices when selling travel insurance by not providing consumers with correct information on how premiums were calculated and failing to prevent the sale of travel insurance on Expedia to consumers illegible to make claims under policies.

According to the ASIC, Allianz’s travel insurance policies sold through Expedia were sold upon the purchase of travel, such as a flight, and presented as “add-on insurance” where consumers could add travel insurance to their travel product purchase.

The ASIC also claimed the Allianz units misused a quote from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the importance of purchasing travel insurance.

“ASIC is committed to improving the outcomes for Australian consumers who purchase insurance. The insurance industry needs to be transparent and accurate when selling and promoting their products,” said ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court in a release, adding: “The community expects that the insurance industry will promote and sell products in a transparent way. People take out travel insurance for peace of mind and to protect their families. The value of an insurance policy is in the promise — that a consumer can feel confident and secure that they will be looked after if something goes wrong. ASIC remains committed to ensuring that consumers’ experience matches that expectation.”

In October 2020, ASIC secured A$10 million (US$7.37 million) from Allianz to compensate approximately 31,500 consumers who were missold travel insurance through Allianz’s website or through distributions patterns, such as Expedia.

The courts considered the early remediation efforts from Allianz when determining its fine, the ASIC said.

Related: 

Two all-inclusive resorts in St. Lucia are offering complimentary travel insurance to all international guests who stay at their properties for 5 nights or more. The travel insurance covers medical and quarantine expenses if COVID-19 disrupts guests’ stay.

Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa and next-door adults-only Serenity at Coconut Bay are providing travel insurance underwritten by Grace Kennedy Insurance for the duration of guests’ visits. Coverage starts with arrival day at the resort and continues until departure day from the resort. It does not continue if guests stay elsewhere in St. Lucia following their stay at a Coconut Bay property.

The travel insurance covers $100,000 in overseas medical and dental expenses for guests up to age 70. Guests who are 71 and over are covered up to $10,000 in medical and dental expenses.

Some pre-existing conditions are covered. Read more details about pre-existing medical conditions here.

Medical quarantine is covered at $200 a day for up to 14 days.

Trip interruption coverage is up to $2,000 per person. The trip interruption coverage comes into play if there are events that disrupt your vacation once you’ve arrived at one of the St. Lucia resorts. Trip cancellation insurance is not included in the free insurance coverage. 

Loss, theft, or damage to luggage is covered up to $1,500. You’ll also be compensated up to $1,500 if your luggage is delayed. 

Guests who are staying at either resort for fewer than 5 days can purchase the travel insurance for $39 a day.

See the full schedule of benefits for the travel insurance here (PDF).

The resorts are offering this travel insurance to international guests who book before October 31, 2021, for travel through June 30, 2022.

St. Lucia Resorts Offer Additional COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Both Coconut Bay resorts already offer a free “return home” COVID-19 antigen test for guests who stay 5 nights or more. A negative COVID-19 antigen test is accepted for return to the United States and the United Kingdom. Canada requires a negative PCR test, and the resorts have arranged for tests at a subsidized cost.

The resorts require guests to have temperature checks on arrival and daily throughout their stay.

St. Lucia requires all arriving international travelers aged 18 and up to fill out a travel registration form. All international travelers aged 5 and up must have a negative PCR test within 5 days of arrival.

You do not need to be fully vaccinated to visit St. Lucia, however, unvaccinated travelers must remain on property at a COVID-19 certified property for 14 days (or fewer, if your vacation is shorter) and may only leave the property to dine at certified restaurants or participate in certified tours and excursions.

Full current entry requirements to St. Lucia are found here.

Nationwide Building Society is discontinuing its free European travel insurance deal for its FlexAccount customers.

The company informed its FlexAccount customers via letter and email that the free travel insurance benefit will be removed from December 31, 2021. Any member who takes a trip anywhere to Europe this year will still benefit from the full travel insurance coverage, before the benefit is dropped.

Nationwide also gave assurances that for FlexAccount members who have a trip booked that was cancelled before the free travel insurance cover ends later this year, their trip will still be covered. Those who have also booked a trip leaving in 2021 and returning in 2022 will still be covered during their entire trip, it said.

Only FlexAccount members who opened their account with Nationwide before December 15, 2016, may enjoy the free European travel insurance benefit. It has not been made available to new customers since Nationwide stopped offering the perk in 2016.

“We have kept our free European travel insurance in place for longstanding FlexAccount members for five years after removing it for new members in 2016,” a spokesperson for Nationwide told The Guardian, adding that the perk is being dropped because only a quarter of FlexAccount customers were actually using the coverage.

As compensation, Nationwide is offering a 30% discount on Direct Line travel insurance for customers affected.

We got a look at the new normal when the Centers for Disease Control extended its mask mandate for mass transit. Until at least January, you’ll need to wear a face-covering when you fly, ride a bus, or take a train – no matter what happens with all the covid surges and other uncertainty. 

But what else?

“Just as travel changed after 9/11 with increased security and stricter carry-on restrictions, we can absolutely expect travel post-pandemic to be permanently changed,” says Alexis Bowen, a founder of the travel planning platform Elsewhere.

In other words, travelers are realizing that the new normal means adapting to an ever-growing set of new policies and procedures, covering everything from COVID testing to sanitation protocols. If you haven’t traveled since the pandemic started, you’ll need to catch up.

Interestingly, many travelers seem unfazed. A new survey of Allianz Partners U.S. customers reveals two-thirds of its customers plan to take a trip between now and November. A majority feel confident in resuming pre-COVID activity levels for travel, including a return to cruising by the end of the year. Allianz says the number of customers planning trips in 2021 tripled in July as compared to the number in February.

So what does the new normal in travel look like? Masks, of course. Vaccination passports, too. Lots of travel insurance. And also, where and when you go may never be the same.

► Travel insurance and COVID:  What it covers – and what it doesn’t

Bring your mask – and a backup or two

For a brief moment this summer, it looked as if we could leave our face masks at home. And then the delta variant struck. In my travels, I’ve watched the mask requirements go from strict to optional to nonexistent – and back. It’s enough to give you whiplash. 

Here’s the thing: You never know when you’ll need a mask. Even if your hotel, airline and cruise line all give you the OK to take off your face covering, you could still wander into a gift shop somewhere along the road that insists you wear a mask. I recommend you pack one and bring a backup or two. (You never know when your strap will break.)

“Wearing masks – especially on planes – should be second nature by now,” says Debbie Pham, founder of the travel agency Live Travel.

Yes, you’ll need a vaccination passport

It’s really just a question of when you’ll need show evidence that you’ve had your shots. Europe and Israel already have vaccination passports for their citizens. Even if the United States never formally adopts one, you’ll still have to show you’ve gotten your shots. This summer, when I checked into the Latchis Hotel in Brattleboro, Vermont, a receptionist asked for my CDC vaccination record. My advice: Take a picture of your card on your phone for safety. Carry the real one with you wherever you travel.

► Need to share proof

Nationwide is axing free European travel insurance for the last of its FlexAccount customers who were entitled to the cover via their current account.

The member-owned building society has been contacting customers this week to announce the change, and warning them that they will have to buy alternative cover for any trip they take from 31 December 2021.

For many years the free European travel insurance was a major reason to have one of the society’s Flex current accounts.

Nationwide stopped offering the perk to new customers of its basic FlexAccount in December 2016 but those who had signed up prior to that were able to keep their free European travel cover provided they paid at least £750 a month into the account and filled in an annual declaration disclosing any medical conditions.

From the end of the year, they, too, will lose the cover. Nationwide said it “understood that members may be disappointed by this decision” but that only a quarter of its FlexAccount customers were benefiting from the product.

“We have kept our free European travel insurance in place for longstanding FlexAccount members for five years after removing it for new members in 2016,” a spokesperson said.

“However, with a relatively small proportion of members now meeting the eligibility criteria, we have taken the decision to simplify our proposition and align terms for all FlexAccount members. In light of low usage and the cost of this cover, we will now be removing this insurance at the end of the year.”

While most customers will lose their cover at the end of the year, those who have paid for an upgrade, such as to keep the insurance after their 70th birthday or to cover a medical condition, will still be protected until that expires.

Nationwide is offering a 30% discount on Direct Line travel insurance for its FlexAccount customers affected by the change. However, this may not be the cheapest option for travellers, who should shop around and compare policies and premiums.

Alternatively, customers have the option to upgrade to Nationwide’s FlexPlus account, which offers worldwide travel insurance for the whole family – plus other benefits – but costs £13 a month, or £156 a year.

Those who do shop around for another policy will not find Axa on the list of providers after it announced it will no longer sell its own brand overseas and UK travel insurance policies to new customers.

The insurer said this week that customers who had already bought annual and single-trip policies would not be affected and cover would continue as planned until expiry. But once your cover ends you will no longer be able to renew it.

Axa has taken the decision to “simplify its travel offering”. However, it will continue to underwrite policies provided by third-party partners, including the AA, Abta, Coverwise and the Halifax packaged account.

Axa says it will contact all affected customers and will advise them to visit the British Insurance Brokers’ Association website, where a broker

Rawpixel / Shutterstock

Rawpixel / Shutterstock

With the holiday season quickly approaching, many people are making their travel plans now. But there’s always a chance you may have to cancel, especially with the threat of the ongoing pandemic. While travel insurance often comes to mind as a solution for protecting your trip plans, not just any policy will do.

Read: How To Budget and Plan for a Vacation in 2021
Get Ready: Travel Prep: 10 Financial To-Dos Before Going on a Trip

“Sometimes, people don’t understand that not all travel insurances are the same,” said Jess C., founder of Easy American Travel. “Just because you bought travel insurance doesn’t mean that it will cover everything related to your trip, including your health. Travel insurance companies don’t offer everything in one product, and they slip this into two to three products.”

Here’s everything you need to know to ensure you get the right kind of travel insurance in case of a COVID-19-related trip cancellation.

Where To Purchase COVID-19 Travel Insurance

When it comes to COVID-19 travel insurance, the best option for purchasing is through a travel insurance company. Avoid buying travel insurance policies or vacation waivers that are offered as an add-on by travel agencies or booking sites because they are likely to have more exclusions and less chance of covering COVID-19 cancellations.

Options for COVID-19 Travel Insurance Cancellation

There are a couple of options that can cover you if you have to cancel your trip for reasons due to COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know.

Learn More: 40 Pandemic Airport Secrets Only Insiders Know

Cancel for Any Reason Travel Insurance (CFAR)

CFAR coverage is just what it sounds like: With it, you can cancel your trip for any reason, including fear of COVID-19.

“If you’re looking to book a trip for the upcoming holidays, look into buying Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) Travel Insurance,” recommended Amanda Hand, head of marketing and communications at G1G Travel Insurance. “It’s the best way to protect yourself against unexpected cancellations due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, unexpected border closures and a general fear of travel — all things not covered by standard travel insurance plans.”

To get a CFAR insurance plan, you’ll have to purchase a standard travel insurance plan and add the CFAR coverage.

CFAR typically covers 50%-75% of your lost, prepaid travel expenses as long as you purchase it within 14-21 days of your first trip payment and cancel your trip by the specified deadline, which is typically 48 hours before your scheduled departure.

Be advised that the window of time to purchase CFAR may vary by company and not all travel insurance companies offer it. Make sure to read the fine print of the CFAR policy to double-check cancellation deadlines.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

If you are only concerned about contracting the virus and not being able to proceed with your travel plans, trip cancellation insurance may be the way to go.

“Now, if you don’t want to opt

Since the pandemic hit in the beginning of 2020, we’ve spent a lot of time booking, changing and rebooking travel accommodations for many of our clients. For some reason, there are still clients who seem to think that they’ll always get a refund on their travels when changes need to be made. Even if they don’t purchase travel insurance, they’re still expecting some form of reimbursement.

We recently had two huge custom FIT reservations that wanted to cancel their preplanned trips. Since it was less than 30 days before their departure, they would have lost a lot of money if they just outright canceled the trip. Fortunately, I was able to secure all of their funds so they didn’t lose any money by my moving the dates over for them vs. outright canceling. I did this without charging them any additional fees. I also did this without charging them the potentially higher rates for their new travel dates.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

Every time I do this for a client I always think – why should my team and I be doing all of this work over and over again without charging any new fees when it was the client’s decision not to travel due to COVID? This is especially frustrating when there aren’t any restrictions where they’re traveling to and they’ve already been fully vaccinated.

When we do offer our travel insurance options to clients, I would say about 90 percent immediately decline the insurance. The top reasons are 1. they think it’s a waste of money, 2. it’s not cheap to purchase, and 3. they feel nothing will happen to them before or during their travels. While it can be expensive depending on the amount of their trip, their age, which policy they choose, etc., clients must realize the importance of purchasing travel insurance. Especially these days!

Everyone has to pay for car insurance because you never know what will happen. Other examples of common insurance types people regularly purchase include home insurance, health insurance, renters insurance and even pet insurance. So why not purchase travel insurance to cover the unexpected, too?

We recently decided it would be beneficial to simply offer more insurance coverage options to our list of services to fully accommodate our variety of clients. We always do our best to offer our clients a wide range of coverages to protect them when they’re traveling, and since there are new travel insurance options now available, we’ve added these new options to our services.

Travel Insured is our preferred partner as they offer insurance benefits, like covering bed rest for quarantine. As a travel agent, you should understand how to choose the best policy and options for your clients. This is especially important due to all of the pandemic-related problems that are still happening as of today.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A company based in the Short North says it’s the first to offer travel insurance to ordinary people who want to go to space.

Space travel is projected to grow by $1 trillion by 2040, says Sasha Gainullin, the CEO of battleface. At the moment, the space travel plan covers accidental death and disablement.

“What we are starting out with,” Gainullin explained, “is benefit for accidental death and disablement.

“I would think the travel insurance industry will evolve along side with the space tourism. And that depends on the types of trips that are going to be taking place over the next five to ten years, and alongside with that, the benefits will continue to increase.”

The new product was launched last week, underwritten by Lloyds of London. Although they haven’t had anyone sign up for it yet, Gainullin says that one person from Columbus has shown interest already.

“Surprisingly enough, we’ll se a lot of people coming out of Ohio.”

Gainullin says the policies will also help people travelling to remote areas to catch their flights to space.

“[Space travel] is just an additional experience that many travelers are going to be embarking on.

“Certainly nobody knows is it in 10 years or 50 years that space travel is going to be more affordable, but just as air travel and travel in general has evolved over time…yes, I see that it’s an industry that’s going to be affordable to many,” he said.

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Capital One unveiled the details of their brand new travel booking portal — Capital One Travel. It’s a unique platform to book travel using your Capital One credit card, whether you are booking with miles or cash.

This news comes as the bank recently announced upgraded travel benefits, including new transfer partners for Capital One miles and opening three Capital One airport lounges.

Now, Capital One is delivering an all-in-one travel portal where consumers can book flights, hotels and car rentals — and also access several exciting features to save money on travel and make booking a hassle-free experience.

Capital One Travel’s new features

The newly debuted Capital One Travel portal that cardholders will interact with starting Wednesday.

Courtesy of: Capital One

The Capital One Travel portal price prediction technology estimates to have 95% accuracy, giving consumers great confidence to know when to purchase a flight.

Courtesy of: Capital One

  • Price drop protection: If a flight price is found lower than the one you paid, Capital One will offer a refund for the difference. This can be a huge money saver for consumers who regularly travel, and the best part is that it’s automatically refunded.
  • Price match guarantee: If you find a better price for a flight, hotel or rental car on another site within 24 hours of booking, Capital One Travel will refund the difference.

Later this year Capital One will add these benefits to its travel portal:

Lastly, sustainable travel has become a priority for many who are hitting the road. Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report revealed that 61% of travelers stated the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably. In response, Capital One is launching a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Eden Reforestation to plant four trees for every flight, hotel, or rental car booking in order to help with forest restoration.

Compared to other bank’s travel portals, Capital One Travel will provide a very unique and potentially valuable tool. The other

As part of their ongoing Paradise Protection Protocols initiative, St. Lucia’s Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa and the adjacent couples-only Serenity at Coconut Bay have reintroduced their offer of free travel insurance included with stays of five or more nights.

The insurance program covers medical and quarantine expenses as well as travel protection and is free for arriving guests and bookings of five nights or more through Oct. 31 for travel through June 30.

Guest staying fewer than five nights have the option to purchase the insurance within 24 hours of arrival at the resorts, for $39 per person.

Medical coverage of up to $100,000 includes assistance and expenses for Covid-19 diagnosis and illnesses as well as pre-existing conditions, along with quarantine expenses and medical evacuation. The policy’s travel protection covers trip interruption coverage of up
to $2,000 per person and trip delay and lost baggage compensation.

As part of the same initiative, the resorts reported that staff
vaccination rates at both properties have topped 80% and their Return
Home Antigen Testing program continues to administer free Covid-19 tests
on site for guests prior to departure. 

All-inclusive rates at Serenity at Coconut Bay start at $874 per couple, per night for travel through Sept. 30, a savings of up to 60%. Rates include private airport transfers, taxes and tips.

Coconut Bay rates start at $308 per room, per night, double.