Travel insurance can protect travelers from a big variety of issues. Most of the time, vacations run smoothly, and travelers return home with memories of a lifetime. But having the safety net of travel insurance provides peace of mind and vital support on the off-chance that something does go wrong.
Of course, the big concern on everyone’s mind these days is COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). And now that the World Health Organization has officially declared the novel virus a pandemic, and the US has banned foreign travel, travelers have to be more cautious than ever.
Currently, what is the best type of coverage plan for travelers concerned about Coronavirus? Most travel companies recommend that you choose a Cancel For Any Reason policy. This type of policy is more expensive and it only reimburses around 60 to 75% of your money. You also have a short window of time to purchase the protection after your deposit is made. However, during this time of Coronavirus, this plan is the only one that allows you to cancel a trip out of fear of traveling due to the virus and still be covered.
What if you’ve already booked a trip and you’re now fearful of traveling? Many people who purchased travel insurance may be surprised to learn that it might not cover claims arising from the Coronavirus. Travel protection policies don’t cover fear of traveling. Most have an exclusion for pandemics, so now that the World Health Organization has declared that the Coronavirus is a pandemic, coverage will become more restrictive to anyone who bought their policy after the known date of the virus (Jan. 21, 2020). You may not be covered even if you contract the virus yourself. Right now, most insurance companies will only cover Coronavirus if the policy was purchased before January 21st. That’s because most policies have a clause that says you won’t get coverage for an illness once it’s declared an epidemic or pandemic. However, if you can’t go on your trip because you’re quarantined-and can provide documentation of it-you might have coverage, depending on the policy.
To be sure, the first call should be to your travel advisor, who will help you understand all of your options. If you booked a “do it yourself vacation,” you should speak to all the suppliers of your trip (airlines, cruise/tour operators, hotels, etc.). Right now, most suppliers are being more flexible with their cancellation and change policies.
We are all navigating in new territory and there is a lot we still don’t know. But one thing is for certain, we should now be convinced that traveling without the right protection is a big risk.