What to know about travel insurance amid virus outbreak

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Travelers who have spent months planning and thousands of dollars on once-in-a-lifetime trips are finding insurance may not cover cancellations connected to the coronavirus.

“If you’re just afraid to travel somewhere, it’s not going to cover somebody for fear of traveling to a destination,” John Lovell, owner of Breton Travel, told News 8. “The one insurance you can get that would cover you right now is ‘cancel for any reason’ and that tends to be a little more expensive.”

The agency hasn’t seen a big impact due to the coronavirus yet, but it doesn’t typically book many trips to Asia and the surrounding area.

“Obviously cruises in the Far East and Asia right now are kind of a non-starter. I don’t know many people would consider doing that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the cruise lines pull out of Asia (and move) to other parts of the world,” he explained.

Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that “all travelers reconsider cruise ship voyages into or within the East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region”. 

Although it would be reasonable to assume an ongoing global public health emergency should justify a cancellation, the fine print on travel insurance might say otherwise.

“It’s not going to cover, I guess I would say, a theoretical problem that may or may not happen unless the State Department has made a declaration of something,” Lovell said. “It would cover you if you bought the trip and were here and then got sick and couldn’t travel. It would cover you if you bought the medical portions of travel insurance, traveled somewhere and got sick there, but it’s not going to cover you if, ‘Well gosh I hear there’s a lot of sickness there, whatever kind it is and I’m afraid to travel there.'”

He said it’s important to read up on what you’re purchasing, which the Better Business Bureau also recommends.

“Look at the CDC website or the World Health Organization or the State Department with travel advisories, things like that, to make sure you know what your plans are and whether there will be any kind of impacts or not,” Lovell added.

Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to make the decision. Some are more adventurous than others would want to be extra cautious.

“They want to look at what their cancellation penalties are, what their obligations will be,” Lovell said. “They really want to decide what their comfort level is to travel but be aware of what the financial decisions are going to be and what those timelines are. The further out that you decide to make a change, usually the lower the penalties are going to be.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links