Coronavirus, Travel Medicine

Will travel insurance pay if you cancel a trip because of a health epidemic?

The short answer: Probably not.

From the WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Many travel insurance policies exclude trip cancelations due to a known outbreak of a disease. In the case of the recent coronavirus outbreak, it became a known epidemic around Jan. 22, 2020.

In travel insurance terms, any travel you book or policy you buy after that time would have been during a known epidemic and therefore a related trip cancelation wouldn’t be covered.

  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China.
  • US Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

So what are your options, short of not traveling? Some companies offer “cancel for any reason” travel insurance. It typically costs at least double than standard travel insurance and uses marketing that promises to pay if you cancel a trip for any reason.

These policies may cover more cancelations than standard travel policies, and they limit reimbursement to a certain percentage of the trip — 75% is a common figure.

As with any insurance policy, read the fine print before you decide if you want to buy it. If you have questions about the policy, ask the company before you buy it.