Standard travel insurance won’t cover trip cancellation for coronavirus

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – If you have a trip planned, you are likely worried it may be impacted by the coronavirus.

As the virus outbreak spreads in the U.S., Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison business in St. Petersburg, reports a 400 percent increase in calls about insurance. The question asked most: does trip insurance cover you if you don’t want want to travel because of the outbreak? What if you become sick and can’t travel?

“Fear of travel is never a covered reason under a standard policy to cancel a trip,” said Kasara Barto, of Squaremouth.

That’s because most travel insurance policies only cover you if you cancel your trip because of a reason covered in your policy. Covered reasons vary by policy, but the most common include a significant injury, illness or death affecting you, a traveling companion or a family member. Severe weather that prevents you from reaching your destination or terrorist attack at your destination are also usually included.

But get this: if you get the flu, you can likely cancel. But that doesn’t mean it will cover you if you get sick with the coronavirus.

“Since the outbreak is considered foreseen, there’s no coverage available,” Barto said.

But there is one policy that could offer you peace of mind. It’s called, “cancel for any reason,” and it lives up to its name. Barto says these policies allow you to cancel just because you’re no longer comfortable traveling.

“Right now, that policy will allow travelers to cancel their trip up to two to three days before for any reason, so if the outbreak continues to spread and they are just too concerned or fearful to travel that will reimburse them up to 75 percent of their trip costs,” Barto said.

Consider this: standard insurance for a $10,000 trip to Italy will set you back around $219. But a “cancel for any reason” policy is $638. It’s a little more upfront, but it could save you a bundle if you can’t travel.

If you purchased your trip months ago, it’s likely too late to add this type of policy, but if you’re booking now – or in the past three weeks – Barto says this could be just the option to give you peace of mind.

Also, keep in mind that some airlines have allowed people to cancel or change flights and some cruise ship operators have reimbursed travelers. This is especially true for travelers who planned to travel to destinations where the outbreak has worsened.

Every situation and company is different, so ask questions and learn your options.

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