America may be split about how to approach this year’s Thanksgiving; even so, there’s no doubt the number of people travelling is dramatically down due to fears about the pandemic. 

But those who have decided to gather with family and friends despite Covid-19 risks have created an unexpected boom in pricey insurance policies that offer coronavirus cover.

As Reuters reports, statistics from insurance comparison site Squaremouth reveals the number of US domestic travel insurance policies bought to cover the upcoming holiday are up 170% on the same time last year.

And around 40% of all Thanksgiving travellers specifically searched for coronavirus cover, which replaces previous most sought-after terms in previous years, such as disruptive weather and financial defaults.

This kind of cover comes at a cost, however. Reuters reports that any-reason-cancellation insurance, which usually allows scrapping a trip up to 48 hours before it’s due to begin and a three-quarters reimbursement, can cost up to 40% more than standard policies.

After months of lockdowns and separation from loved ones, it would seem many Americans feel it’s worth the outlay.

“It’s just gotten to a point I think people are tired of being stuck at home and they’re looking to get away and go somewhere,” Jeremy Murchland, president of US travel insurer Seven Corners, told Reuters.

The news agency reports that more than three million Americans passed through the country’s airports last weekend, despite advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to travel as coronavirus cases continue to spike, reaching new daily records.

The overall number of Americans travelling is around 60% down on the same period in 2019. Squaremouth says its data shows, however, that the number of people travelling who are looking for insurance cover is up 26% on last year. 

Insurance demand for non-domestic trips has fallen dramatically, which is unsurprising considering the number of banned destinations and quarantine requirements for others.

Insurance purchases covering trips to the Bahamas and Costa Rica are down by a little over half, and cover for Mexico by 23% compared to last year’s Thanksgiving week. But for the Turks and Caicos islands, where top-end hotels are offering Covid-secure bubble stays, demand is up more than 500%, Reuters says.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that train travel is also down steeply, at about 20% of what it was at the same time last year. The number of people taking to the road by car has fallen by just 4.3%, far less than forecast. Cars, says The Times, account for around 47.8 million travellers at this time of year, by far the majority of those who travel.

Interest in travel generally picked up following announcements of vaccine breakthroughs, says The Times.

Bookings rose by around 25% following Pfizer’s news in early November that its vaccine was 90%+ effective, it reports. 

Sourced from Reuters, The New York Times