The seemingly endless nationwide pandemic barrier has led to great demand for pent-up travel.
As the second major long vacation weekend of summer begins, people who want to celebrate Independence Day are getting into their cars and RVs for road trips – considered by many to be safer than air or cruise travel.
"After weeks of home, many Americans want a change of scene," said Giorgos Zacharia, chief technology officer of the travel website Kayak.com. "With international travel restrictions still in place and safety taken into account, road travel is currently the most enticing for U.S. travelers." Kayak found that the search for rental cars for the weekend on July 4th has increased by 20% compared to the previous year.
Brittney Castro, corporate certified financial planner for Mint.com's personal finance management website, said most people haven't spent much money traveling this year so far.
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"Most of them have a monthly travel budget and I think they are now rethinking their travel destinations and savings and saying we should use this money for a road trip now," she said.
While AAA released no projections for travel on July 4, it was said that the Americans will make a total of 700 million trips this summer, and 97% of them will travel. (In the meantime, only 15 million people will be flying, up from 58 million a year ago.) The American Hotel & Lodging Association found that 72% of people who are planning a trip will be spending a night by car in the next five years become months. Of these, 75% expect to drive two or more hours.
All of these hours on the road can mean a lot of wear and tear – for vehicles, schedules, and travel temperatures – and insurance companies are taking note of this by introducing new travel plans that are specifically geared to road drivers, or reminding RV and car owners of the practical aspects of the dangers of Car insurance. Here you can see what's on offer.
Peace of mind on the street
Domestic travel today accounts for the majority of all insured travel on the online travel insurance market Squaremouth.com, according to spokeswoman Kasara Barto of only 12.3% in 2019. "The more people travel domestically, the more popular road trips become," said she. "We definitely see a top."
Customers visiting the website, which offers policies from 31 travel insurers, have increasingly asked about road trip insurance coverage. In the past, vacation travel – unlike air travel or cruises – was not insured, said Barto.
The competing InsureMyTrip.com website also predicts that more travel insurers will offer some kind of road trip coverage "as the pandemic adapts to travel restrictions and health considerations," said spokeswoman Julie Loffredi.
Two travel insurers recently unveiled plans tailored to road drivers. Indianapolis-based Seven Corners has launched ARMOR, suitable for road trips up to 30 days more than 100 miles from a policyholder's home in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The plan provides for emergency medical evacuation from remote destinations such as national parks. The other big advantage is the return of passengers, pets and / or vehicles home in the event of a driver injury. An online search for an August trip within the United States by a single driver aged 45 resulted in a premium of USD 50.
Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection has meanwhile launched its first domestic insurance plan, ExactCare Lite, designed to travel at least 100 miles from policyholder homes and available in 40 states.
We always recommend travelers to understand what the policy covers – and what not – before buying.
Product manager at InsureMyTrip.com
"We expect domestic coverage plans to be the trend this summer and fall when travelers explore the open road again," said Dean Sivley, president of Stevens Point, BHTP, Wisconsin. "While travelers stay cautious, BHTP's new ExactCare Lite road trip product provides security for non-refundable deposits such as hotels and attraction tickets, medical emergency costs and more."
By the numbers
An online search for an August trip within the United States by a single driver aged 45 resulted in a premium of USD 19. ExactCare Lite coverage includes:
Travel cancellation, including for professional reasons, up to $ 500 per person, interruption of the trip, including a traffic accident, up to $ 750 per person, up to $ 100,000 for medical evacuation, up to $ 10,000 for both emergency medical insurance and up to at $ 10,000 accidental death and dismemberment; 24/7 telephone or email travel assistance for travel and medical emergencies worldwide; and coverage for a child aged 17 or less per insured adult.
Road drivers should carefully weigh the pros and cons before buying, warned Meghan Walch, product manager at InsureMyTrip.com. "While low-cost travel insurance tailored specifically for a domestic road trip is an attractive option, we always recommend travelers to understand what the policy covers – and what isn't – before they buy," she said.
If a trip is very expensive, involves heavy cancellation fees, or travelers are afraid of Covid-19 or weather events, consider a traditional "cancellation for any reason" plan instead, Walch added.
Insure the motorhome
Barto of Squaremouth.com also warns that people who stack up – rented or owned – in a motorhome or luxury car for their road trip should also check the fine print of their new road trip policy.
"Liability insurance is often not included in travel insurance, and most travel insurance excludes RVs or exotic cars like Lamborghinis," she said.
According to Paul Bender, CEO of American Adventure Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California, RV and RV sales are skyrocketing. "It is difficult to keep inventory on the property," he said. "I think people think I can create social distance in my RV, motorbike or boat as long as I'm careful." It's big business. "
Mint.com's Castro, based in Los Angeles, said it saw an increase in RV rentals among customers and acquaintances. "I have never met anyone who wants to buy a motorhome," she said. "But I know people who actually rent a motorhome and drive the Pacific Coastal Highway."
Bender emphasizes that it is important that camper owners buy the right type of insurance. It is not advisable to simply tie an RV driver to a regular car policy, although this may be cheap. A good RV-specific policy from a provider like Progressive Corp. or Foremost Insurance Group includes total loss compensation, unlimited towing and so-called full timer coverage, "which is actually the homeowner's cover that travels with you," he said, covering liability for injuries to guests and passengers.
In this pinching time when you want to be more conservative with your expenses, getting a ticket is simply not worth it.
licensed insurance agent at TheZebra.com
Policies purchased through American Adventure Insurance offer many of the same benefits as travel insurers' new road trip plans. This includes covering emergency costs, covering animal injuries and liability at the campsite.
"I am not an expert on these other (road trip) guidelines, but if they charge a premium for special cover for a 12 or 30 day trip and your motorhome or trailer is only insured under your (auto) policy , go ahead and pay this premium, "said Bender. "But you can switch your RV policy to Progressive or Foremost and pay a lot less all year round and always have the same coverage whenever you set off."
Watch your driving
Regardless of the coverage you buy, keep an eye on the road and watch this speedometer on vacation, said Nicole Beck, a licensed insurance agent and communications director on TheZebra.com insurance comparison website.
Every twelfth US driver commits a traffic violation every year, and half of them get tickets. Failure to do so can result in an increase in auto insurance rates from an average of 4.4% to 78.3% (or $ 68 to $ 1,212) a year – typically for up to three years, but sometimes for a decade. You could return home from vacation to get higher car premiums.
"At this time of penny pinching, when you want to be more conservative with your spending, it's just not worth getting a ticket," said Beck. "Of course, the first solution is to drive safely."
A frequent mistake by road drivers is the cell phone injury. "It's probably a big deal if you don't know where you're going," she said. "You play with your smartphone GPS." According to The Zebra, this could result in a 23% increase in your insurance premium.
When a policeman notices that your seat belt has been loosened too? "If you're not buckled up, you'll pay around $ 138 more a year," said Beck.