Does Travel Insurance Cover Coronavirus?By Kathleen Burns
How are travel and credit card insurance policies accommodating the Coronavirus outbreak?
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Short answer: typically, no. But really it depends on when you booked your travel, where you’re going and which type of travel insurance you purchased.
If you’re looking to book travel now (or have booked recently), you might be out of luck. In most cases, travel insurance will not cover changes or cancellations due to the coronavirus for flights booked after January 21, 2020, because the spread of COVID-19 is now considered a “foreseen event”. So, travelers are expected to be responsible for any changes they make due to concern of getting sick.
If you’re looking to change or cancel travel plans that were booked before the end of January 2020, you probably have some options — so long as you purchased travel insurance at the time of booking. Again, the level of coverage will depend on what type of travel insurance you purchased because some are more inclusive than others. If you bought “cancel for any reason” or “change of mind” coverage, you’re more likely to be covered by insurance. For any other level of travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print to understand what your provider covers during a public health emergency.
You may be wondering if the U.S. State Department's announcement on March 19 of a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory will offer additional flexibility. Unfortunately, trips canceled due to a Level 4 travel ban will still generally not be covered by insurance, unless you have purchased a policy with "cancel for any reason" coverage.
What about your credit card’s trip cancellation insurance? Again, the answer is probably no. Credit card insurance likely won’t cover fear-based cancellations, in other words cancelling your trip out of concern for catching the virus. If your credit card does have trip cancellation coverage, you could be covered if you fall seriously ill before or during travel, but not because of the potential to become sick. Most credit card and travel insurance policies will cover your trip if you become infected while traveling, but be sure to check the fine print of your credit card’s policy to fully understand what is (and isn’t) covered.
Even if you didn’t purchase travel insurance for an upcoming trip, you might be able to still save some money on changes and cancelations. Most airlines are waiving change fees due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, but again this is dependent on specific circumstances including when you bought the ticket, where your flight is to/from, and whether or not you’ll be able to use the travel credit in the next year. Find everything you need to know about airline cancellation and refund policies for coronavirus here.