Travel Insurance & Coronavirus
Last updated on 09/03/2021
Table of Contents
Does Travel Insurance Cover the Coronavirus Pandemic?
On January 21, 2020, the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) became a named event, which affects the travel insurance coverage available for new policies purchased.
For those purchasing travel insurance AFTER 1/21/2020 (exceptions may apply if traveling to a country with a Travel Health Notice issued by the CDC) benefits included in comprehensive coverage may apply in the following unforeseen scenarios:
- Emergency Medical Coverage: a sick traveler must see a doctor and/or go to the hospital during a trip.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation Coverage: in rare cases, a sick traveler requires an emergency medical evacuation to the nearest appropriate hospital or back home for recuperation.
- Trip Interruption: an extremely sick traveler cannot continue with a trip and must return home.
- Cancel For Any Reason: Currently, if you are looking for trip cancellation coverage because you are concerned about the coronavirus, you will now need to purchase a plan that includes Cancel For Any Reason since the travel warnings are now foreseen. This benefit is time-sensitive and has other eligibility requirements, so not all travelers will qualify.
InsureMyTrip has introduced a new recommendation tool that to make it easier for travelers interested in policies that may offer coverage for COVID-19 related issues. This new tool guides travelers towards plans best suited to guard against COVID-19-related travel concerns as part of the quote process.
Some plans may exclude epidemics/pandemics and may not provide coverage for related issues. Please be sure to read the plan details carefully before purchasing.
Remember that travel insurance helps to cover unexpected events. Similar to a weather event, once an event becomes a "known" event, it may not be a covered reason for cancellation if a traveler purchases insurance after that date.
For travelers who purchased a policy BEFORE 1/21/20 and need to make a claim or have questions about how your existing policy will cover you, please reach out to your insurance provider. Travelers can read further on how to file a travel insurance claim here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does Travel Insurance Cover for COVID-19?
For those purchasing travel insurance for future travel, benefits included in comprehensive coverage may apply in the following unforeseen scenarios:
- Emergency Medical Coverage
- Emergency Medical Evacuation Coverage
- Trip Interruption
- Cancel For Any Reason (optional, time-sensitive benefit)
Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, many traditional travel insurance companies have expanded or adapted their existing coverage for travelers. In addition to the coverages above, examples of these may include:
- Reimbursement for covered medical treatment during a trip due to a COVID-19 illness
- Get sick with COVID-19 and must cancel a trip by physician’s order
- Physician orders a quarantine before trip
- Lost a job during the coronavirus pandemic by no-fault of your own
For travelers concerned with cancellation, Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) offers the most trip cancellation flexibility and is the only option available to cover fear of travel. CFAR is an optional, time-sensitive benefit with eligibility requirements, so not all travelers will qualify. Full terms of coverage will be listed in state-specific policy. If eligibility requirements are met, reimbursement is up to 50%-70%of the insured pre-paid non-refundable trip cost.
If purchasing a plan specifically for COVID-19 related concerns, we remind travelers to carefully review their policy to understand their coverage. InsureMyTrip’s new COVID-19 recommendation tool is now part of the quote process and can be selected to help guide travelers toward the plans best suited for these coronavirus-related travel concerns. Our licensed representatives are also available 365 days a year to read the fine print for travelers and explain the exclusions.
What Travel Insurance Can Help Cover the Costs in the Event I Must Cancel a Trip?
If you're concerned about government travel restrictions, Cancel For Any Reason coverage is the best option for potentially getting a portion of your expenses back. Also, check with travel suppliers if they offer any refund or travel vouchers.
For more information on the latest travel policies, which include new mask mandates and quarantine requirements, please refer to the Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel.
If I Get Sick with COVID-19 During a Trip, Does Emergency Medical Coverage Cover Me?
It may. Some travel insurance plans do offer emergency medical benefits in the event a traveler gets ill during a trip and must visit a doctor or hospital.
InsureMyTrip’s new recommendation tool simplifies the search for travel insurance plans that may offer coverage for COVID-19 related issues. This new tool guides travelers towards plans best suited to guard against COVID-19-related travel concerns as part of the quote process.
Medical plans and coverage to consider include:
- Travel Medical Insurance is offered either as part of comprehensive travel insurance plans or can be purchased as a stand-alone plan. These plans only offer coverage while traveling outside of your home country. Before purchasing emergency medical coverage, we strongly recommend that you first contact your regular health insurance provider to inquire about global benefits and how your benefits apply when you are outside of your home country.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation Coverage provides transport assistance in the event that you become seriously ill or injured while traveling. Generally, these plans provide emergency medical evacuation to the nearest appropriate care facility if the assistance company and the physician feel you’d be better suited at a different facility. For those who want to ensure transport to the hospital of their choice, travelers may want to consider also purchasing an air medical transport membership. If hospitalized during your trip, this membership may provide transport to a hospital of your choice, often closer to home, without it being determined as "medically necessary" as required on typical travel insurance plans. (For medical transport memberships, some destination restrictions may apply for evacuations related to COVID-19.)
- Trip Interruption Coverage is included in travel insurance comprehensive plans. It’s a benefit that offers travelers reimbursement of their pre-paid, non-refundable expenses should they unexpectedly need to cut their travels short. However, there are exclusions for this, so be sure to review your policy carefully.
Travelers with specific questions about coverage should contact our Customer Care team at 800-487-4722 for assistance in finding the right coverage for their unique travel plans.
In the Event a Traveler Does Not Obtain a COVID Test in Time, are Additional Expenses Covered While They Await Negative Test Results?
In this case there would be no coverage for lost days or flights and the policy would not automatically extend.
Travelers seeking coverage for future trips can use the "COVID-19 recommendation tool" to see plans best suited to cover COVID-19-related travel concerns.
Does Travel Insurance Cover the CDC’s New Testing Requirements for Air Passengers Entering the United States?
No, travel insurance will not cover the cost of a general COVID-19 test that may be required for travel.
However, some medical plans may cover testing in the event a policyholder becomes ill during a trip and a test is ordered by a physician.
For travelers looking for more information on this order, please refer to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The order was issued on January 12, 2021 and requires all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs. Proof of a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 will be required before boarding the flight. This order went into effect on January 26, 2021.
My Trip was Canceled by My Travel Supplier. Can My Travel Insurance be Refunded?
Unfortunately, travel insurance is non-refundable after the review period listed on the policy (usually 10-14 days from the purchase of the plan). In typical situations, however, many insurance providers will offer to transfer your policy to a future trip. You can use this Policy Change Request Form to request a transfer of your policy.
As the COVID-19 situation is continuing to evolve, some travel insurance companies are considering refunds for customers who can prove that their trip was canceled by their travel supplier. If your trip was canceled by your travel supplier, you can use this Cancellation/Refund Request Form to request a refund of your premium. Our Customer Care team will then reach out to your provider to see if they will allow it.
What If My Travel Supplier Goes Out of Business?
The impact of the coronavirus goes beyond medical as concern grows over the long-term financial impact on the travel industry. Travelers may consider seeking financial default coverage as a precautionary measure in the event their travel supplier becomes financially insolvent. This specific coverage is already included in many comprehensive travel insurance plans and is designed to help travelers in the event their travel supplier has stopped business operations due to financial reasons. Usually, airlines, cruise lines, and tour companies are the kind of suppliers whose financial default would be covered under your travel insurance plan. Financial default coverage reimburses in-full only if you are unable to make alternate arrangements to continue with your travel plans. If you’re able to book another flight, for example, your benefits would then be adjusted according to the specific terms of your policy. This benefit is time-sensitive and the time period varies by plan and provider. Review your policy carefully or call our Customer Care team with questions about this type of coverage.
How is Domestic Travel Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak?
For unvaccinated domestic travelers, the CDC recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
- Get tested 1-3 days before your trip, and do not travel if you are positive for COVID-19
- Wear a mask, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often while traveling
- Get tested 3-5 days after travel and quarantine a full 7 days after traveling, even if the test is negative.
For all travelers, states have different guidelines and restrictions. Be sure to refer to InsureMyTrip’s guide to Pandemic Travel Restrictions By State.
How is International Travel Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak?
In 2020, confirmed cases of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread across the world. However, 2021 has seen a significant rollout of vaccines and global travel has begun to resume.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus outbreak constitutes a pandemic. Because of this, many countries implemented travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closed borders, and prohibited non-citizens from entry with little notice in advance. For current information, please refer to this COVID-19 travel outlook map from On Call, which aggregates credible intelligence in key areas that impact the decision of when to resume travel.
In the United States, the Department of State has issued various travel advisories. Travelers are encouraged to review these advisories, and the corresponding COVID-19 Traveler Information page, before considering international travel. Due to the fluidity of the situation, these advisories and guidelines may change at any time. U.S. residents looking to travel domestically are advised to read about the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions per state before departing.
Some countries require visitors to have travel insurance. For an updated list of countries with this mandatory requirement, please see our guide outlining which countries require travel insurance for entry.
In June of 2021, the CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for cruise ship travel for unvaccinated passengers, which is still in place as of the time of publication of this article. On October 30, 2020, the CDC had released all of the necessary requirements and recommendations that cruise ship operators need to resume passenger operations under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order. The framework is a phased approach to resuming full cruise ship operations.
As of January 26, 2021, the CDC issued an order that all air passengers arriving to the United States from a foreign country must get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs. Proof of a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 will be required before boarding the flight.
How is Coronavirus Spread?
According to the CDC, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The virus (SARS-CoV-2) spreads easily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. The virus may also spread in other ways. Research is ongoing and travelers are encouraged to check the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
Why is Coronavirus Dangerous?
The coronavirus, sometimes written as "corona virus," is a highly contagious, pneumonia-causing illness that infects the respiratory system. Symptoms can include a fever and cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia, which causes shortness of breath and difficulties breathing. Symptoms of this disease may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. The situation is evolving as more information becomes available. For the latest information, refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
How Can I Prevent Contracting Coronavirus?
Being proactive is the best method of prevention - wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and avoid close contact with people who are sick. The CDC also recommends wearing a mask in public settings. If you are sick, prevent the spread of illness by staying home, avoiding contact with others, cleaning surfaces and objects with disinfectant, and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Please refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest information on prevention.
Is there a Vaccine for the Coronavirus?
Through Operation Warp Speed, the federal government has been working to make one or more COVID-19 vaccines available as soon as possible. In December of 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine were authorized and recommended by the U.S Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. In February 2021, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was added to that list. As this situation remains fluid, please refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most up to date information on vaccine development and approval.
Air Travel Information
Research has revealed air travel may be safer than some travelers assume. While there are still COVID-19 risks associated with flying, the air quality on a commercial airline is high. This is because the air inside the cabin is refreshed every 2-4 minutes, with half of it being circulated with fresh outside air and the other half sent through a high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filter.
The challenge of social distancing on an airplane is the main concern of many travelers, but wearing a mask on a plane has been proven to be an effective method of stopping virus transmission. As of January 2021, mask-wearing is mandatory when traveling through airports or on a commercial aircraft.
Many airlines are deliberately leaving their middle seats unsold, when possible, to assist with social distancing. While this many not be a long-term practice as popularity in air travel returns, many airlines have committed to informing travelers when their flights are reaching capacity. This information will allow travelers to make an informed decision about rebooking for a less crowded flight.
Airline policies are constantly changing in this fluid situation, so please check directly with your airline before traveling for the latest procedures and information.
Effective January 26. 2021, the CDC issued an order that all air passengers arriving to the United States from a foreign country must get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs. Proof of a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 will be required before boarding the flight.
For more information and the latest guidance on safe travel practices, please refer to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Cruise Information & Frequently Asked Questions
As of June 16 2021, the CDC has a Level 3 Travel Health Notice in place for cruise ship travel. This notice is specifically for travelers who are not fully vaccinated.
As it currently stands, the CDC has released all of the necessary requirements and recommendations that cruise ship operators need to resume passenger operations under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which was originally issued on October 30, 2020. The framework is a phased approach to resuming full cruise ship operations.
The Level 3 Travel Health notice means that the CDC still recommends people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, because of the elevated risk of spreading COVID-19.
However, the situation remains fluid. Passengers with cruise travel already booked should contact their travel supplier for the latest information and their position on this statement. Travelers who choose to cruise may consider travel medical insurance for their trip.
Do I Need Special Insurance for My Cruise?
Due to the unique nature of traveling by cruise ship, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel insurance is strongly recommended for all travelers. Depending on the plan, cruise travel insurance can protect against missed connections, an emergency evacuation, unexpected medical issues, baggage loss, and more.
As of July 2021, some cruise lines now recommend or require unvaccinated American passengers to show proof of valid travel insurance as a condition of boarding.
InsureMyTrip offers cruise travel insurance plans that meet and/or exceed such requirements.
Licensed travel insurance agents at InsureMyTrip are available by chat, email, or phone to answer questions regarding cruise-specific coverage. As a travel insurance marketplace, InsureMyTrip strongly encourages cruisers to compare coverage limits and get expert recommendations prior to making any travel insurance purchase.
If I get sick and quarantined on a cruise ship, does travel insurance cover me?
Possibly. Companies have different requirements for what is considered "quarantined", so it is important to read your policy or call to clarify coverage.
If I'm not sick and quarantined on a cruise ship, does travel insurance cover me?
Possibly. Like cruisers who get sick and are quarantined, those who are not sick but are still quarantined are subject to the same guidelines as defined by the provider and policy.
If I get sick with coronavirus on a cruise ship, will travel insurance help evacuate me?
It is extremely rare for travel assistance companies to arrange for evacuation off of a cruise ship. Typically, you have to be hospitalized first and the assistance company will work with the attending physician to arrange transportation to another hospital, or back home if required.
If I get sick with coronavirus on a cruise ship, who pays my medical bills?
If a traveler gets sick on a cruise ship and requires medical care, he or she may be able to file a claim with their travel insurance company to request reimbursement. It is important to keep all receipts and detailed documentation related to medical care received while on your trip.
If my cruise line cancels a cruise due to coronavirus, does travel insurance cover me?
Cancel For Any Reason selected, they may be able to be refunded a portion (typically 50-75%) of their insured pre-paid non-refundable trip cost if the cruise line cancels the cruise prior to departure and they decide to cancel their entire trip. Cancel For Any Reason is a time-sensitive benefit with some eligibility requirements, and you must cancel at least 2 days prior to departure.
What if I'm afraid to go on an upcoming cruise due to coronavirus?
Coverage is very limited, as typical travel insurance policies don't cover fear of travel. If the traveler has purchased a plan with optional Cancel For Any Reason selected, they may be able to be refunded a portion (typically 50-75%) of their insured pre-paid non-refundable trip cost if there is fear of traveling due to coronavirus prior to departure. Cancel For Any Reason is a time-sensitive benefit with some eligibility requirements, and you must cancel at least 2 days prior to departure.
PCR Tests & Traveler Requirements
One common requirement for travelers - for both domestic and international destinations - is a negative COVID-19 test result. To help you prepare for your next trip, or your return home, we recommend using the below tool to locate an available testing facility. Users can filter by turnaround time, ranging from 24 hours to over 72 hours, and type of service.
PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests have been proven to be the most reliable for identifying active COVID-19 infections and are the most widely accepted type of test. While this test generally takes around 72 hours for results, some facilities have introduced "rapid PCR tests," where results can be received in as few as 30 minutes. However, these tests are often more costly.
Before traveling, be sure to check your specific destination to see if a particular type of test is required. Some destinations - like Hawaii - will only accept PCR tests from approved testing partners. Planning ahead is also strongly recommended, particularly if you need a test before departing. If you have a tight schedule, remember that some test facilities may take slightly longer than the standard 72 hours, so considering a location with a shorter turnaround time may be advisable.
Find a COVID-19 Testing Center Near You
Additional Travel Advice for Coronavirus
Stay informed of the latest information on COVID-19 by referring to:
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article serves as a general overview of benefits and should only be used for informational purposes. Refer to your individual certificate of insurance for specific coverages, exclusions, and benefits. When in doubt, please contact one of our licensed agents for additional assistance.