Coronavirus: Does your travel insurance cover you?


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UPDATED: 2020-03-16T19:14:15.465Z
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People traveling on public transportation wearing masks because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The United States has been hit with the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the past few months and the amount of cases and deaths has been increasing in the country and around the world. Travel risks have increased because of the coronavirus outbreak. If you have been traveling or will be traveling domestically or internationally, it’s important to understand what your travel insurance will and will not cover for coronavirus interruptions.

Understanding the full picture of coverage for travel insurance is critical on a global stance, as many cities throughout the world are in a state of emergency regarding lack of gloves and medical masks as well as the rising of reported cases of the virus.

UPDATE 3/16/20: COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Please be aware that some travel insurance policies may exclude coverage for pandemics. Be sure to read the fine print of your policy to know if your travel insurance covers the coronavirus. Please be advised that the information below was published on 3/2/20, before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Heed all reccommendations and restrictions from your state in regards travel.

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What will your travel insurance cover for coronavirus?

The coronavirus has touched countries around the world, so it’s important to know what your travel insurance covers. There are two parts to it: trip cancellation or interruption and medical care.

In regard to the trip cancellation or interruption part, travel insurance typically covers if you need to cancel your trip because you’ve gotten the coronavirus or an immediate family member has. If you are placed under quarantine because you have the virus, your travel insurance will most likely cover the cancellation of your trip. Additionally, if the area you are planning to travel to is placed under travel ban or restrictions, your travel insurance will likely cover the loss.

On the medical care side, most travel insurance companies will cover your medical expenses and hospital stay if you personally contract the virus while you are abroad. Travel insurance may also provide quarantine coverage as well if you are staying in a hospital. There are often certain limits and exclusions. You may also be required to pay co-pays and a deductible out of pocket.

However, there are some travel plans that will not cover your trip because of certain exclusions in your policy, so make sure to contact your travel insurance agent for the logistics. Keep in mind that if the airline carrier cancels your flight due to the coronavirus in a specific destination, the airline itself is responsible to cover the costs of the cancellation, not your travel insurance plan.

As advised above, please be sure to check with your travel insurance company for specifics on COVID-19 coverage. Many companies may not cover pandemics.

Cruises and cancellations because of coronavirus

There are specific cruise lines that have offered customers a free cancelation policy of up to 15 days before departure. Windstar Cruises, which serves areas throughout Northern Europe and Asia-Pacific, is a part of the free cancellation policy. If you are unsure if your cruise line carrier has this policy, make sure to reach out to your agent for specific details.

Conclusion: What is covered?

  • Cancellation of your trip because you got coronavirus or have been quarantined
  • Cancellation of your trip because an immediate family member got coronavirus or has passed away
  • Cancellation of your trip if your destination is under a travel ban or travel restrictions
  • Medical care abroad if you get the virus while traveling (up to your policy limits)
  • Mandatory quarantine because of coronavirus while abroad
  • Airline or cruise line is responsible for reimbursement if they cancel the trip

What will travel insurance not cover for coronavirus?

There are instances where travel insurance will not protect you. If you decide to cancel your flight and/or trip in fear of contracting the virus, your travel insurance most likely will not cover you. However, if you purchased a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) upgrade in your insurance plan, then you should be covered, but always check with your insurance agent. The only way you would likely receive your money back without the CFAR coverage is if the airline carrier itself cancels your flight due to high risk of coronavirus to the area you are traveling.

Conclusion: What is not covered?

  • If you cancel your trip last minute due to fear of coronavirus

As advised above, please be sure to check with your travel insurance company for specifics on COVID-19 coverage. Many companies may not cover pandemics.

Study Abroad and Semester at Sea: Know the facts about coronavirus

If you were studying abroad this semester in an area at high-risk for coronavirus, you were likely told to cut your study abroad trip short and head home. Thousands of students have left their study abroad program in Italy. The majority of the students, if not all, will have to continue their classes at their home university, take an online version of the class, or will have to repeat the course the following semester.

However, regarding costs, your home university most likely won't reimburse you since you will be going back to classes on campus, online, or taking the class another semester. Be sure to check with your study abroad advisor to make sure you are not missing out on a travel insurance reimbursement.

What if I contract the coronavirus while studying abroad?

This is a concern for students who are studying abroad in Italy or China. If you contract the virus or have been around individuals who may have the virus, it’s likely you will be quarantined in your dorm room or hospital for up to two weeks. After the quarantine is finished and you have confirmed that you do not have the virus, you can either choose to stay in your study abroad location or return back home.

If you do contract the virus, it’s likely you will have to stay in the country where you are currently residing to receive treatment. You are not able to travel back home if you have the virus due to the likelihood of contaminating more people.

The majority of colleges, universities, and second-party programs require you to get health insurance when you study abroad; often times you are given an insurance plan, but you must cover the payment for it. Regarding the coronavirus, if you do happen to get it, you will be covered by the health insurance plan provided by your school or other party. Be sure to check on your insurance plan so you can be prepared.

Does your credit card cover trip interruption from coronavirus?

Some credit card companies offer reimbursements due to flight cancelation or trip interruption. However, every credit card carrier has different rules, policies, and exceptions, so be sure to reach out to customer service for explicit details.

Credit card companies such as Chase Sapphire, American Express, and Delta SkyMiles are a few that have cancellation exceptions, however, there are limits. Be sure to reach out to the company to understand what is and what is not covered. Additionally, not all premium or gold credit cards have coverage for trip cancellation, so make sure to check with your provider.

If you have the virus or were traveling to a place where the coronavirus has travel restrictions, then it’s very likely that you will receive coverage from your credit card. However, there are a multitude of cards that do not cover flight cancellation, so be sure to check with your provider. Additionally, for hotel cancellations if you purchase a room on your card, not every card will cover any type of cancellation, even if it is caused by the coronavirus. Ensure you do your research and contact your credit card company for clarity.

If you have been planning a trip to any of the countries with a high-level risk or threat of the coronavirus, please contact your agent for further information on reimbursement or rescheduling of trip for a later date.

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