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Coronavirus coverage: Can I use my credit card travel insurance?

Don’t expect coverage unless you get sick

Updated

With so many travelers canceling plans over the coronavirus, you might wonder if your credit card travel insurance offers coverage for cancellation or interruption over the pandemic. Unfortunately, unless you actually contract the virus or a doctor advises you to cancel your trip, your travel insurance is unlikely to cover the costs of the trip.

Will my credit card travel insurance cover coronavirus?

Generally speaking, your credit card travel insurance will only provide coverage in two situations:

  1. You or a person you’re flying with, who is also covered, actually become sick from the virus and must cancel.
  2. You are medically advised by your doctor to avoid travel and to cancel any existing travel plans.

These two reasons fall under some of the listed reasons your insurance will activate according to many cards’ written policies. Some of those reasons include:

  • Jury duty
  • Car accidents
  • Labor strikes
  • Common carrier cancellations or delays
  • Sickness, injury or death
  • Job loss
  • Terrorist acts
  • Hijacking or quarantine.

Cancellation waivers

To help travelers cope with the financial impact of cancellations, many airlines are offering fee waivers on cancellations and rescheduling. But to take advantage of these waivers, your ticket will have to meet certain requirements. In the absence of travel insurance, rescheduling and taking advantage of these waivers might offer some relief.

When will my credit card travel insurance not cover coronavirus?

Unless you are able to prove you’re sick or a doctor has ordered you to avoid travel, your credit card travel insurance likely won’t cover coronavirus. That means if you’re avoiding travel for the good of your and others’ health — but you’re otherwise healthy — you won’t receive coverage. Credit card issuers specifically list this as “disinclination” and several policies are specific to point out that disinclination due to epidemic or pandemic are specifically not covered.

Your credit card also won’t offer coverage if your airline cancels or reschedules your flight. But this is because most airlines are offering refunds, waivers or other compensation for the inconvenience.

Specific issuer travel insurance policies

Trip cancellation and interruption policies are rather similar between banks. However, if you want to know more about an issuer’s travel insurance policies, you can check out our guides below. You can also check out each bank’s resource page for the latest updates for each issuer regarding the coronavirus.

Bank name Finder guide on travel insurance Issuer resource page on coronavirus
American Express Finder guide Issuer policies on COVID-19
Bank of America Finder guide Issuer policies on COVID-19
BarclayCard Finder guide Issuer policies on COVID-19
Capital One Finder guide Issuer policies on COVID-19
Chase Finder guide Issuer policies on COVID-19
Citi Finder guide Issuer policies on COVID-19
Discover Finder guide Issuer policies on COVID-19

Are unforeseeable events covered by my credit card travel insurance?

Provided an emergency is sudden, unexpected and otherwise unforeseen, that emergency may fit the definition for an unforeseeable event and thus may be covered. Whether the coronavirus spread counts as an unforeseeable event is the real question and likely comes down to when you made your trip arrangements.

Reach out to your card issuer or check out their coronavirus resource page for more information.

How do you get reimbursed for canceled trips?

To receive reimbursement for a canceled trip, you’ll need to file a claim with your issuer. These can vary slightly from issuer to issuer, but the general process is as follows:

  1. Notify your card administrator within 60 days of the occurrence of a covered loss — in this case, your illness or doctor’s notification.
  2. Your administrator will send you claim forms.
  3. Fill out these claim forms and attach the required proof of loss documents. In the case of the coronavirus, this will be a doctor’s note indicating illness.
  4. Attach other documents as requested, such as your common carrier tickets or your card billing statement.
  5. Send these documents to the required address.

You’ll receive your compensation in accordance to your issuer’s stated timeline.

Compare credit cards that offer travel insurance

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
130,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
12x points on Hilton Portfolio spending, 6x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$95
With a big welcome offer worth up to $650, up to 12x points on spending, and free Gold status, this is an upgrade from the entry Hilton card. Rates & fees
Hilton Honors American Express Card
80,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
With a massive welcome offer for a no-annual-fee card and up to 7x points at Hilton, this is a solid pick for Hilton fans and occasional travelers. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Unless you’re sick or your doctor advises you to avoid travel, you’re unlikely to receive compensation from your credit card’s travel interruption or cancellation insurance. Thankfully, airlines are doing what they can to make canceling and rescheduling flights as easy as possible.

If you’re looking for a credit card with travel insurance or similar perks, check out your travel card options to find one that offers the coverage you need.

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