Does travel insurance cover the coronavirus?

Rebound from trip interruptions caused by the coronavirus.

Updated

The globe with a virus surrounding it

Your travel policy probably won’t extend protection for coronavirus-related claims after the virus became widely recognized. Benefits that may include trip cancellation, interruption, delay and medical expenses may get covered at your insurer’s discretion. However, you have a few options to recover prepaid trip costs or to qualify for insurance coverage under special circumstances.

Is the coronavirus covered by travel insurance?

Probably not. Pandemics like the coronavirus are typically excluded under a policy’s “named perils,” which means cancellations and evacuations aren’t covered. There are only a handful of insurers that cover pandemics, such as World Nomads.

If you have Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage, you might be reimbursed for your trip if you don’t want to travel due to the coronavirus — but you’ll likely end up with a mix of cash and travel credits.

COVID-19 is an evolving situation, and travel insurance companies are updating their advisories frequently. If you have an upcoming trip, double-check the extent of your coverage with your insurer.

How does the coronavirus affect my travel benefits?

The coronavirus may or may not receive coverage depending on the policy language and the insurance company you choose. Review the effects of COVID-19 on these benefits:

  • Trip cancellation or interruption. Most insurers declared COVID-19 a known event between January 22 and 24, 2019. If you purchased a policy before this time, you may be covered if your trip is cancelled or postponed. But if you bought a policy after that time and your policy doesn’t cover pandemics, you won’t be reimbursed for any losses.
  • Cancellation for any reason (CFAR). You can recover trip costs no matter the reason with this type of policy, including canceled flights or traveling fears. However, you may need to cancel within a certain time frame, like before 48 hours from departure. Also, you may only get a portion of trip expenses back, typically up to 75%.
  • Trip delay. If you buy a travel policy today, you probably won’t get trip delay benefits for the coronavirus since it’s a known condition. However, travelers who bought insurance before the coronavirus was widely recognized can cover extra expenses for lodging, food and transportation. Coverage applies if you get the coronavirus or get quarantined as a precaution.
  • Medical care and transportation. Most policies generally exclude epidemics or pandemics like the coronavirus. However, some insurance companies have overruled this exclusion to help travelers recover and aid efforts to prevent the disease from spreading. Companies may do this on a case-by-case basis, so it’s important to call your insurer if you have questions about your situation.

What’s not covered?

Most insurance companies exclude epidemics and pandemics or any other factors you could reasonably expect to know ahead of time. That means you might not get coverage for:

  • Flight cancellations due to coronavirus outbreaks
  • Fear of traveling
  • Canceling your travel insurance policy, unless it’s within the insurer’s time limit after purchasing or if your insurer makes an exception
  • Coronavirus illness from traveling to high-risk locations

Up-to-date travel advisory from the Canadian government

What are my options if I don’t want to travel because of the coronavirus?

If you don’t want to make your trip because of the coronavirus, consider these options:

  • Reschedule your trip. Rather than proceeding with your trip because your policy won’t cover cancellations, you could reschedule the dates. You might not see too many rescheduling fees with your insurance company, hotels or attractions if your departure is a few weeks or months away.
  • Ask for refunds on travel. High-risk locations may be closing down attractions and refunding prepaid expenses to help protect the public. Airlines canceling your flight may offer full refunds or rescheduling without any change fees.
  • Read through your policy’s covered reasons. You could cancel or interrupt your plans if another covered reason applies to you. Additionally covered reasons may include other illnesses a doctor advises against traveling with, or vaccination changes at your destination. Contact your insurer if you’re unsure about a reason.
  • Take a loss. If your destination is high risk for the coronavirus, you might choose to absorb the nonrefundable costs of your trip. But you won’t have to pay extra if you can get refunds.

What should I do if I get the coronavirus while traveling?

If you suffer from coronavirus symptoms during travel, you can take several steps for medical care and claims documentation:

  • Find medical help. Find a local doctor and call ahead before entering their office. The doctor may give you special procedures so as not to spread the virus. Your travel insurance or a Canadian embassy can help you find a provider if you’re traveling abroad. Some insurance companies also provide telemedicine services if you’re unsure about symptoms.
  • Avoid public transportation. Keep your distance from people or places where others could get the virus from you.
  • Notify the transportation staff. If you start feeling ill while on a flight, bus or cruise, notify the staff and contain yourself immediately. The CDC recommends that passengers keep a 6-foot distance from other people.
  • Call your insurance company. Contact your company’s emergency assistance with any questions you might have about trip plans or your coverage.
  • Keep receipts and invoices. Even if you don’t think your insurance will cover you, keep itemized medical bills and receipts of additional travel expenses. Your insurer will tell you whether your expenses will be reimbursed or not.
  • Follow screening and quarantine procedures. If you traveled to high-risk areas, your flight may be redirected to a different airport for screening. Follow medical or governmental personnel’s instructions to a T, including voluntary quarantines once you return home.

How do I file a claim for the coronavirus?

If filing a coronavirus-related claim, you can follow these steps:

  1. Report claim details online, by phone or email, depending on your insurer’s options.
  2. Describe your expenses or losses and any relevant information, such as where your exposure to the coronavirus happened.
  3. Upload or send files that prove your claim. Those can include receipts, medical invoices, news reports or doctors’ notes.
  4. Submit your claim and wait for further questions or notice from your insurer.

Bottom line

Outbreaks like the coronavirus can leave your travel plans and health concerns hanging in the unknown. But with the right policy from a reputable travel insurance company, you can get the medical and trip coverage you may need for a time like this.

Keep up-to-date on all things related to COVID-19

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus

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