Yet another sector of the travel industry has signalled that it could mandate vaccination against coronavirus to provide services to travellers, according to a report that notes insurers may demand to see proof of vaccination before covering those wishing to go on holiday.
The international Travel and Health Insurance Journal reports that “If the EU obliges travellers to vaccinate, travel insurance providers may refuse to cover those who decline to have the vaccination.”
The report notes that the European Union has previously indicated that travellers and anyone applying for a visa could be mandated to get the vaccine in order to enter and move between EU countries.
“If EU makes vaccines mandatory, travel insurers will likely follow suit,” the journal emphasises.
Elvio Chilelli at insurer Europ Assistance commented that while vaccination is currently not a requirement, if the EU does mandate it then the insurer will adopt the same policy.
AXA insurance also plans to make COVID vaccination a compulsory requirement if the EU does so.
“It is likely that countries are going to require people to have had the vaccine to enter. Therefore, if customers haven’t been inoculated, they will not be covered,” the company stated.
“If there is no requirement from the entering country, we cannot enforce that people have had the vaccine – as customers may not have had the opportunity to get one,” a Axa spokesperson said.
EU news website Schengenvisainfo also reported on the likely move by insurers, pointing out that anti-vaxxers will likely be specifically targeted by the mandates.
“Even if anti-vax travellers find a loophole in the requirement and manage to enter any of the Member States, travel insurance providers may refuse to cover them,” the report states.
It continues, “With the high volume of fake news and conspiracy theories that have been going on for months now on the pandemic and vaccination, the real challenge for the EU will not be to purchase the necessary vaccine doses, but rather to convince people to be vaccinated.”
The report adds that “Conspiracy theorists, in Europe and further in the world, have targeted Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is known as a supporter of vaccination, claiming he is responsible for the Coronavirus pandemic.”
Some responded to the likely move by insurers, questioning what happens if people choose not to be vaccinated for medical reasons, or cannot get vaccinated:
What about travellers who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons? That can't equate to being banned/ underinsured for people not able to be vaccinated. Publishing such info when the fact & excemptions to it aren't clear causes more stress. #LoveIsNotTourism— Solange 🇨🇭❤🇨🇴 (@Solange54138238) December 23, 2020
I worry for rights of people not able to get it (younger than 16, pregnant, allergic, whatever other reason). How can their exclusion be ethical? Where is the data proving that such a measure is reasonable and necessary? Are they collateral damage too?— Solange 🇨🇭❤🇨🇴 (@Solange54138238) December 23, 2020
I wish @EU_Commission would be more vocal about such concerns. They just have "vaccine is safe" on repeat. #HumanRights have been violated so heavily in 2020 (often wo any supportive data on the actual benefits) in democratic countries, that people have legit reason to question.— polipoly (@polipoly5) December 23, 2020
Even those who are willing to get vaccinated may not be able to do so for some time. Are they also to be refused basic travel freedoms?
What about all EU citizens like myself that happily will take the vaccine but probably has to wait most of 2021 for it ? I’m Danish and it seems very long before we even have covered the old,sick and frontline workers and I’m neither of them. I need to travel to see my boyfriend— karen (@karen26277540) December 23, 2020
Surveys have indicated that around half the people in the world are not willing to take the vaccine at this stage.
The news about insurance companies potentially mandating vaccination follows indications from scores of airline executives and travel industry officials that proof of vaccination, through ‘COVID passports’, will become mandatory in order to fly.
In addition, hotels have also indicated they will do the same.
The head of one of the world’s most prominent tourism lobby groups has warned that if governments embrace “no jab, no fly” polices, it will kill the travel industry.
Gloria Guevara, head of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said recently “I don’t think governments will require vaccination next year,” warning that “If they do that they will kill their sector.”
As we reported last month, the IATA, the world’s largest air transport lobby group, expects its COVID travel pass app to be fully rolled out in the first months of 2021.
Another ‘COVID passport’ type system known as the CommonPass, sponsored by the World Economic Forum, is also under development.
A further ‘COVID passport’ app called the AOKpass from travel security firm International SOS is currently undergoing trials between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan.
UK based human rights group Privacy International has warned that if “immunity” passports are issued by some governments, it could signal a creep toward “digital identity schemes” and other mandatory ID schemes.
“Once you have multiple uses (e.g. access to services) in multiple domains (i.e. public sector, private sector), in multiple countries (i.e. travel), then we are approaching a global identity document needed to live your life,” the group warned.
Sweden based human rights group The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) warned last week that 61 per cent of countries have used COVID restrictions “that were concerning from a democracy and human rights perspective.”