China Coronavirus Outbreak Impact on Travel Insurance, Explained by Squaremouth
In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, The Center for Disease Control has issued a Level 3 Warning and the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel advisory for the affected destinations.
Travel insurance comparison site, Squaremouth, reports an influx of calls from current policyholders wanting to cancel trips to affected destinations, as well as travelers now wanting to purchase a travel insurance policy.
As the situation progresses, Squaremouth explains travel insurance coverage for the Coronavirus outbreak.
Travelers who have already purchased a policy:
Unfortunately, there is limited cancellation coverage under most standard travel insurance policies.
Travel Warnings for China Don't Activate Cancellation Coverage
Virus outbreaks do not fall under the standard cancellation reasons on most travel insurance policies. While travelers are advised not to visit affected destinations, they are not prevented from doing so. In simple terms, travel insurance cancellation benefits are designed to reimburse travelers who are preventing from traveling due to a specific list of reasons, like weather or an illness.
Popular Attraction Closures Not Covered Reason to Cancel
Travelers with visits planned to unaffected areas in China may still feel the effects of the outbreak, due to many popular tourist attractions closing in efforts to stop the spread of the virus. While the closure of portions of the Great Wall of China, Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland may be an inconvenience to travelers, it isn't enough to trigger cancellation benefits.
Benefits Available If Traveler Contracts Coronavirus
If a policyholder contracts the virus before their departure, they may be covered to cancel their trip entirely under a standard policy. In addition, if a traveler falls ill with the coronavirus while on their trip, they can be refunded for medical expenses and, if medically necessary, be covered to end their trip early and return home.
Travelers looking to purchase a policy now:
Travelers looking to purchase now may need upgraded coverage.
Coronavirus Considered Foreseen
Any time an event becomes expected and commonly known about, insurance providers can restrict coverage for that event.
Some travel insurance providers are now excluding the Coronavirus outright, meaning there are no cancellation or medical benefits available for policies purchased after their defined “cut-off date”. According to Squaremouth, this is as early as January 21st, depending on the provider.
Cancel for Any Reason Upgrade Best Option for Future Trips
Travelers still planning their trips, or who booked within the past 3 weeks, may be able to purchase a policy with the Cancel for Any Reason upgrade. While this time sensitive benefit only reimburses a portion of the trip cost, it is the best option for travelers who have concerns that a standard policy doesn't cover, including fear of traveling.
Squaremouth recently launched the China – Coronavirus Outbreak Travel Insurance Information Center to explain coverage for the virus outbreak. This page is regularly updated by Squaremouth's travel insurance experts, and includes answers to frequently asked questions and official statements from providers.