Travel insurance mandatory for those going abroad --Duterte

Filipinos will have to shell out money for travel insurance if they plan to embark on trips abroad during the coronavirus pandemic.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with the core members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on July 7, 2020. (JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Addressing the nation early Wednesday, President Duterte recognized the need for travel insurance since falling sick or getting hospitalized abroad is quite expensive.

Having adequate travel insurance is among the conditions imposed by the government for Filipinos going on overseas trips. The government earlier lifted the suspension on the non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos and other exit travel restrictions but imposed certain conditions for their safety and health.

"Adequate travel and health insurance to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses if stranded, and hospitalization in case of infection. Medyo mabigat ito. Ewan ko how much would be added to your expenses but itong insurance mabigat ito na kung while in travel magkasakit ka (This is quite heavy. I don't know how much would be added to your expenses but the insurance is costly if you get sick while in travel)," the President said in his taped public address aired on state television Wednesday morning.

Duterte mentioned a name of an insurance firm that can provide assistance to Filipino travelers. He said Blue Cross is considered the "best" insurance firm that would "answer for anything while you are out of the country."

"You get sick and you can choose even I think the hospital that you would be checking in. This is a very expensive proposition. Tayo, hindi tayo maka-afford nito, ‘yung ano lang. (We cannot afford this, only those who can). The Blue Cross is almost like in membership," he said.

Apart from travel insurance, the President said Filipino travelers must also submit confirmed round-trip tickets for those traveling on tourist visas.

"This is not only a mandate dito sa Pilipinas. Iyong mga lugar na punta --- puntahan ninyo, interesado rin na pupunta kayo, pagkatapos aalis kayo ‘pag panahon na (The destination countries are also interested about your visit and departure when your trip is over)," he said.

Filipinos may also travel abroad if destination country allows the entry in accordance with their travel, health and quarantine restrictions.

They must also sign a declaration acknowledging the risks involved in traveling including the risk of delay in their return trip. "This is so because COVID is still rampaging," Duterte said.

The government imposed several travel restrictions on Filipino travelers back in March as precaution against the coronavirus spread. Filipino tourists were prevented from leaving the country while only overseas Filipino workers and balikbayans were allowed to travel if flights were available.