The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added 16 destinations to its "Level 4: Very High" COVID-19 risk level, including three popular travel destinations for Americans -- Greece, Ireland, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Those countries join other frequent international destinations like the United Kingdom, Spain, and The Netherlands. Destinations that fall into the "very high" risk category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
The agency emphatically stated that everyone should “avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”
"Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants," the agency said.
How will this affect people with travel plans?
The CDC’s new advice will certainly get the attention of anyone who plans on flying -- or cruising -- anytime soon. In particular, cruisers need to be aware that a number of stops on European and Mediterranean itineraries are impacted: Portugal, Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands, Greece, and Gibraltar.
There are also several “Level 3” countries that could affect stopovers if the virus continues to spread. Those include Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy, and Estonia in Europe, as well as most of the Caribbean nations.
What can travelers do to protect the cost of their trip?
The pandemic continues to create unique, troubling, and shifting scenarios that travelers have to face. Besides local restrictions and mandates that cruise lines and airlines might put into place, there is a slew of travelers who have made reservations and paid for vacations.
Is there anything a traveler can do to protect their investment? ConsumerAffairs reached out to insurance expert Michael Giusti of InsuranceQuotes.com to get his advice.
“Make sure to book your insurance policy early,” Giusti said. “Once you pay your deposits, the clock starts ticking. Many companies won’t write policies if you don’t buy it within just a few days of the trip being purchased. So, if you booked your trip in April but are now worried about the Delta variant, it is likely too late for travel insurance now.”
How does that affect the new CDC guidance? Giusti said government shutdowns typically aren’t covered by standard travel insurance policies. However, there is one insurance option that travelers can take called a “Cancel For Any Reason” policy.
“These are more expensive, and they pay out a smaller percentage of your costs, but just like their name implies, they pay out for almost any reason you chose,” Giusti said. “This can be a great option if you are a timid traveler, or if you have a lot of unknown variables to consider.”
Travel insurance can really pay off
While travelers usually don’t have to file a travel insurance claim, it’s those you-never-know type of things that make travel insurance worth the investment. Corie from Nampa, Idaho, said it certainly paid off for them.
“I purchased flight protection on my flight just in case, my traveling partner ended up getting seizures and being admitted into the hospital, it was horrible we were all so stressed out and didn’t know what to do because we couldn’t go on our planned vacation,” they wrote in a review of Allianz Global Assistance. “The customer service and help that I got was awesome, it helped me so much and I definitely recommend this company for travel insurance!”
ConsumerAffairs has prepared a guide on travel insurance that might be worth reviewing if you’re planning a trip anytime soon. It’s available here.