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With governments around the world highly advising against or restricting travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, how is your travel insurance impacted? Are travel insurance providers being more lenient with cancellations? Can you cancel if you or someone you know has been infected with the coronavirus? What if you don’t want to travel because of your safety? 

travel insurance affected by coronavirus
Is your travel insurance affected by the coronavirus? Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Is Your Travel Insurance Affected By The Coronavirus?

How is your travel insurance being affected by the coronavirus? What options do you have? You may be asking yourself these questions and more.

While there are credit cards with travel insurance perks as well as insurers like Allianz (Johnny Jet is a brand ambassador), you may have to check with each to see where you stand.

Here’s what you need to know about how travel insurance is affected by the coronavirus.

1. You need to check with your individual provider. 

Just like with any insurance question, it all will eventually come down to your individual provider. However, for the most part, many travel insurance providers will not cover or will offer very limited coverage for incidences related to COVID-19. This is because, for many travelers, COVID-19 could be considered a known risk. In other words, the coronavirus was becoming an international issue in 2019. A provider could claim that any traveler who booked travel for 2020 in 2019 or later would have known that a COVID-19 outbreak was a risk.

However, this does seem admittedly a little harsh. That’s why a handful of individual providers are offering more lenient cancellation policies. There are also additional services for purchasers who might be impacted by the coronavirus. In most cases, though, standard travel insurance providers aren’t going to allow you to cancel a trip just because you’re worried about the potential of catching coronavirus in a destination. 

Regardless, you’ll want to check with your individual provider to see how you might be impacted. 

2. But what if I have coverage that allows me to cancel for any reason? Won’t I be covered?

You would think so. Unfortunately, a lot of those “cancel for any reason” travel insurance add-ons come with a few caveats. 

For example, you might not receive the full total cost of your trip back. Additionally, you might not be able to cancel a trip within a certain time frame. Many providers require that you cancel your trip at least several days before you were intended to travel. 

Don’t use that “cancel for any reason” coverage as an excuse to book travel now or retain travel reservations you’re feeling a bit wary about. If you think there’s a high chance you might not be able to make the trip, either due to COVID-19 or any other reason, forgo booking right now and consider canceling current travel plans. It’s the best way to ensure you keep your money or get the most (if any) money back from previously booked plans.

3. Can I just postpone my trip?

Many travel insurance providers are allowing travelers to postpone their trips to later dates. This may be a desirable option for you if you do actually want to take that trip to Italy in the future.

Additionally, even if your travel insurance provider does not allow you to do this through them, you could find that the airline you booked with is offering a lenient flight change policy right now, as airlines reduce international service during the pandemic. It’s entirely possible that you may just be able to postpone your trip with the airline and hotel you booked with separately. There may be no need to go through your travel insurance provider.

4. Will travel insurance (from an airline, individual provider or anyone else) cover COVID-related delays or failures to show?

The coronavirus is making life more difficult for everyone. But, unfortunately, if it’s just a minor inconvenience you’re facing (longer lines at airport security, for example), you likely won’t be covered if you miss your flight or fail to show up for another similar reservation. Give yourself extra time. Services may not be available, not just at the airport but also in getting around.

5. What if I catch COVID-19 while traveling? What will my insurance cover?

In most cases, standard travel insurance will cover you if you get sick while you’re traveling, not only from COVID-19 but any other illness. You’ll likely be able to find covered medical care, as well as covered travel if you need to come back home due to an illness. Emergency medical care and emergency medical transportation are often in basic travel insurance plans. However, as always, you’ll want to check with your individual provider to verify. 

6. The government is advising us not to travel. Don’t travel insurance providers care?

Not really. Most travel insurance providers do state that insurance policyholders are not covered even if the CDC or U.S. government advises travelers not to go to a certain country or region of the world. Additionally, many travel insurance providers state that epidemics and pandemics are not included under the valid reasons for canceling a trip. It’s often just too risky for the provider to cover. 

The Bottom Line

If you have travel booked and you’d like to cancel or amend your trip, talk to your travel insurance provider. Whether you purchased travel insurance from a third party or you have travel insurance via a travel credit card (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card), it’s still a good idea to contact them. See what they can do for you. Then, weigh the risks and rewards to make the best possible decision for you and your family. 

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