Travel Insurance & Coronavirus
Last updated on 10/16/2020
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.
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. Trip Interruption and Cancel For Any Reason are not available to non-U.S. citizens/permanent residents.
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.
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.
How is International Travel Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak?
There are confirmed cases of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) widespread across the world. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus outbreak constitutes a pandemic. Because of this, many countries are implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little notice in advance. For up-to-date information, take a look at 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.
On March 8, 2020, U.S. State Department issued a Travel Alert stating that "U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship." The CDC has issued a Level 3 - Warning, recommending that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide. All ocean-going cruise line members of the Cruise Line International Association have agreed to voluntarily suspend U.S. cruise operations until at least 31 October 2020.
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. 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. There are currently no vaccines available. Please refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest information on prevention.
What If I Get Sick While Traveling?
If concerned about contracting the coronavirus while traveling, medical coverage options are available. We are in constant communication with our providers, and have confirmed they will continue to cover travelers who need medical care due to COVID-19.
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.
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.
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.
Coronavirus & Cruises - Common Traveler Questions
On March 8, 2020, the U.S. State Department issued a Travel Alert stating that "U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship" due to the increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise environment. 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. Some cruise companies, such as Royal Caribbean, are allowing cancellation up to 48 hours before sailing. Travelers who choose to cruise may consider travel medical insurance for their trip.
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.
Additional Travel Advice for Coronavirus
Stay informed of the latest information on the Novel Coronavirus 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.