The Zika virus is a serious matter, as I wrote in this tip back on January 19: Why Pregnant Women Should Consider Postponing Travel to Latin America and the Caribbean. Since then, the affected areas have expanded and people are on edge, especially pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant.
However, it looks like women aren’t the only ones who have to cancel or be extra vigilant when traveling to the affected areas because there have been cases of the virus being transmitted sexually. The question I’ve been getting a lot is: “Will my airline, cruise, hotel, or travel insurance allow me to cancel my trip?”
Most airlines, including the big three (American, Delta and United) will allow ticketed passengers to cancel or postpone their trips. Here are their official policies:
- American Airlines’ Zika virus travel policy
If you’re pregnant and traveling to a destination in Latin America that’s affected by the Zika virus, you and your travel companions can request a refund. Just provide a doctor’s note confirming your pregnancy when you request a refund.
- Delta Air Lines’ Zika virus travel policy
Customers may qualify for a change to alternate destinations, travel dates or a refund. Customers may make fee-waived changes to future reservations/tickets. However, changes need to be made by February 29, 2016.
- JetBlue’s Zika virus travel policy
Customers traveling to/from destinations reported by the CDC to be affected by the Zika virus may qualify for a refund or the option to make changes to their current travel plans to alternate destinations or travel dates. Original travel must have been booked on or before February 7, 2016, and we are currently offering changes through March 14, 2016. Please contact us by phone to request a change or refund.
- Southwest Airlines’ Zika virus travel policy
The safety of our Customers and Employees is our number one priority. We will continue to follow the established CDC guidelines for air carriers on matters such as the Zika virus. As always, our Customers can change their travel itineraries without a change fee and our non-refundable fares can be applied toward future travel as long as your reservation is cancelled 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your flight.
- United Airlines’ Zika virus travel policy
If you have a ticket for travel to a country affected by the Zika virus (as listed on the CDC website) and you are concerned about your travel, please contact the United Customer Contact Center with questions or to change your reservation. Customers who are advised to avoid the affected regions based on CDC guidance may change their destination or travel date without a change fee or may choose to receive a refund. The ticket must be refunded or changed by February 29, 2016. The new travel date must be within the validity of the ticket. Additional charges may apply if there is a difference in fare for the new itinerary.
- Virgin America’s Zika virus travel policy
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a list of affected countries that have reported transmission of the Zika virus infection. Mexico is the only destination that Virgin America serves that is included on the CDC’s list. Guests who are pregnant and travelling to Cancun International Airport (CUN), Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) or Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) can call our contact center at 877.359.8474 FREE to receive a travel waiver.
Most hotels and cruise lines are offering the same policies (just Google the name of the company and ‘Zika’ and you will find their policy. Alternatively, visit the company’s website and search for Zika or Alerts).
Most insurance policies do not cover if you cancel your trip to a country where Zika is being transmitted unless they have a “cancel for any reason” policy in place. I work very closely with Allianz Global Assistance (I’m one of their brand ambassadors and here’s why). Allianz has told me that they have received about 100 claims related to Zika and close to 300 calls from customers who are concerned about the virus. Those who want to know how travel insurance can help should know that some travel insurance companies (including Allianz) have products that do allow customers to cancel their trip if a member of their party becomes pregnant after the insurance is purchased. Customers who have questions about what their policy covers should call their travel insurance company directly for more information.
Customers who have cancelation coverage could receive a refund for the pre-paid, non-refundable travel payments that they might otherwise lose.
Also good to know is that Allianz Travel Insurance customers who become ill with the Zika virus may also be covered for emergency medical treatment. Customers who are traveling and need help should call their Travel Assistance department at the number on their certificate of insurance. They are available 24/7 to help customers locate the nearest appropriate medical facility, arrange transportation if necessary and can also guarantee payments to healthcare providers and help manage customers’ care.
Disclaimer: I work as an ambassador for Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and receive financial compensation.
For more information about Allianz Global, visit AllianzTravelInsurance.com.