The coronavirus is continuing to spread, multiple states are reporting new cases daily. The US has recently reported two deaths in Washington State. Given the warnings from the CDC, many are canceling travel plans. However, late cancellations can have a direct affect on one’s wallet. Does travel insurance cover any loss when canceling due to COVID-19?
Unfortunately, the chances of any sort of coverage are quite slim.
Typically, travel insurance has four main categories for reimbursement. Trip interruption, trip cancellation, medical evacuation, and emergency medical costs (costs your current health insurance would not cover). To get your lost money back, you’d need to qualify for one of the above categories. Anxiety about contracting an illness during travel is not covered. Even when that so called virus is an epidemic.
However there is one caveat, if you do upgrade to CFAR, the cancel for any reason policy, you’d be able to cancel for almost any issue. You would need to qualify, all based on that said policy. This type of upgrade needs to be purchased within a certain time frame of your first payment of deposit. This time frame is typically 24 hours to 21 days. You also must insure 100% of your travel costs if you want to be reimbursed for the full amount. Given the fact that you can select the amount you would like to reimbursed is a plus. Say your flight is flexible and you’re able to change or cancel with no fee, there would be no need to include that into the CFAR policy.
In theory, this is a great idea. However, the cost of these polices are steep. Running you anywhere from 30-60% of the total trip price.
If you contract the coronavirus while traveling, your travel insurance should cover the medical expenses incurred while abroad or on your trip. This should be more of a consideration while traveling outside the US. Many times health insurance will not extend to other countries.
In the end, it is all up to the travel insurance. Most insurance companies include epidemics and pandemics as an exclusion in the policy. This means that any claims arising from epidemics would not be covered. In fact, insurance companies stopped covering anything related to the swine flu in 2009, and the ebola virus in 2014.
Now, if your flight is canceled due to the coronavirus, that said airline should be able to help. JetBlue is allowing costumers to change travel plans free of charge on bookings until March 11, 2020. Only time will tell if other airlines follow JetBlue’s lead.
You may also want to consider contacting your credit company in the event of a cancellation or emergency abroad. Some credit cards offer travel insurance.