How Travel Insurance Helps When You’re Sick and Stuck Abroad

See our COVID-19 Travel Insurance Guide

COVID may be in retreat, but it’s not eradicated, and the fear of getting sick when traveling overseas may be with us for some time.

Getting sick abroad with something like COVID-19 is a multifaceted fear. There’s the sickness itself, which can be life-threatening, but then there’s everything you have to do and spend to deal with the disease, and finally, the financial impact on your travels.

Let’s look at these various aspects of dealing with COVID-19 or another disease while traveling, and what it might cost you – with and without travel insurance. We’ll also see how Travel Assistance Services, that are included with our plans, can come to your aid when you need it most.

Actually, we’ll do that in just a moment. First, let’s review how travel insurance treats COVID-19 and other sickness.

According to our COVID-19 FAQs, “If you, a family member or a traveling companion are diagnosed with COVID-19 before or during your trip, and meet the requirements for coverage due to sickness, you can be covered for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Travel Delay, Medical & Dental, and Emergency Assistance & Transportation, in addition to our 24-Hour Emergency Assistance services. You can also be covered for additional lodging expenses and extension of your travel insurance plan if you are required to isolate at your destination and your return is delayed.”

First, we’ll look at what happens…

If You’re Hospitalized

The amount you spend on medical expenses to treat COVID-19 while you’re traveling can vary tremendously based on where you get sick and how sick you get.

Also, if you get sick in a remote location or have to be transported to a different medical facility, the cost of that transfer can hit six figures. Fortunately, all of our travel insurance plans can provide reimbursement for emergency medical and evacuation expenses -- up to $1,000,000 with our Premium plan.

If a traveler is insured and needs to be hospitalized, here’s what you can expect:

Evaluate Care

Our team of medical experts will collect medical information, establish a point of contact with the treating medical facility, speak with the traveler and analyze the quality of care that the patient is receiving.

Covered Expenses: The plan can provide coverage for medical costs that are not covered by the traveler’s primary health insurance.

Assess Treating Facility

Depending on the quality of care, severity of the condition and other factors, our medical experts will determine if medical evacuation or repatriation is necessary to properly care for the traveler’s condition.

Covered Expenses: With Emergency Assistance and Transportation coverage, the plan can provide coverage for the traveler’s medical evacuation or repatriation costs.


If necessary, the patient is transported to an appropriate medical facility. Our medical experts will monitor the traveler’s hospitalization until they are released and follows national travel guidelines to arrange the traveler’s return trip home.

Also read: How Travel Insurance Works if a Family Member is Hospitalized


Whether or not you need to be hospitalized, if you or a traveling companion tested positive for COVID-19 you may need to isolate before returning home. The costs of isolation can vary greatly depending on the country and facility where you’re isolating.

As Lonely Planet reports, “In many cases, your hotel will allow you to extend your stay and quarantine on premises. Some hotels will move guests into government-mandated quarantine sites, which can vary from five-star accommodations to bare-bones barracks. Although a handful of these facilities, like those in Greece, are paid for by the government, you will often foot the bill.”

Nerdwallet recommends that you budget at least $100 a night just for the lodging component of your quarantine, with a 10-night minimum – and remember, meals and tests are extra.

Fortunately, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or another sickness and are insured, you can be reimbursed for certain additional unexpected expenses on your trip, such as lodging if the plan terms are met.

This really comes in handy in a scenario like the following: It’s the last day of your vacation, you’re being tested prior to departure, and someone in your traveling party tests positive.

It’s a not-uncommon scenario, unfortunately, but the good news is that travel insurance can help. If a self-isolation period is necessary before the traveler can return home, we will arrange local accommodations.

Covered Expenses: Travel Delay coverage can reimburse you for additional costs, such as accommodations and food. This also applies if your traveling companion is diagnosed with COVID-19, and you are not, but you still have to pay for additional lodging at your destination.

We will also check in with you throughout the self-isolation period to ensure that your condition is stable and if you require medical treatment.

Extension of Coverage

Your travel insurance doesn’t just end if your trip is unexpectedly extended beyond your scheduled return date. The insurance coverages will be extended if your entire trip is covered by the plan and your return is delayed by unavoidable circumstances beyond your control. If coverage is extended, coverage will end either on the date you reach your originally scheduled return destination or seven days after your scheduled return date, whichever comes first.

Return Home

If COVID-19 forces you to extend your stay and you have to rebook flights, you could be at the airlines’ mercy. A last-minute flight could cost you a lot more than you paid for your ticket originally.

Luckily, with one of our plans, we can help arrange the traveler’s return trip home.

Covered Expenses: With Trip Interruption coverage, you can be reimbursed unused, non-refundable, pre-paid trip costs and additional transportation costs to return home or rejoin your group.

Considering all that can happen if you’re sick and stuck abroad these days it’s clear that travel insurance can be valuable when you get sick abroad – and with COVID-19 raising the odds of that possibility, it’s more valuable than ever.

If you have questions on how our travel insurance plans can provide coverage for COVID-19, read the FAQsread a policy, and start a chat or call if you still have questions.

If you’re satisfied with the answers, get a travel insurance quote. It’s fast and free.


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