DOT eyes enhanced travel, medical insurance coverage

Published July 8, 2020, 7:58 PM

by Hanah Tabios

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing an enhanced travel and medical insurance coverage for Filipinos, especially now that the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has announced the lifting of travel restriction for outbound non-essential travel.

In most cases, the said insurance is not mandatory even when exiting the country. But with the ongoing global health crisis, the IATF Resolution No. 52 will now be requiring outbound Filipino travelers to avail of an adequate travel and health insurance to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses if stranded in a foreign country, as well as to cover the hospitalization in case of infection.

 “In fact, one of the discussions [in the technical working group] is aside from the travel duration, you might need to get insurance for extra two weeks or 15 days so that in case you will be quarantined in a foreign county or you will be hospitalized, you are covered [by the insurance,” Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., also the DOT spokesperson, said in Pilipino in a radio interview over DZRH.

Bengzon also said that guidelines might be released next week.

Meanwhile, a text message, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) President Ritchie Tuano said the lifting of the travel restriction will still not guarantee an immediate revenue for travel agents since he said this would still depend on Filipinos’ willingness to travel even without a proven vaccine, as well as the spike of of COVID-19 cases.

“The other challenges or concern would be the priority of essential expenses over leisure or holiday trips and the increased cost of travel with the mandatory safety health protocols, including but not limited to mandatory travel and health insurance,” he said.

Aside from the travel and health insurance, the IATF will also require outbound Filipino travelers to submit a confirmed round-trip ticket especially for those traveling with a tourist visas, and a signed document acknowledging the risks involved in traveling, including the risk of delay in their return trip.

Most importantly, the IATF said exiting travelers should also know whether or not they will be allowed entry by their destination country in accordance with their travel, health and quarantine restrictions.