Updated February 26, 2020 at 7:10pm Pacific Time
When a hurricane has been named and is taking a direct path towards your tropical destination that you intend to depart for soon, if you hadn't already purchased a travel insurance plan, it's likely too late to purchase a policy that will include coverage for cancellation and interruption of the relevant trip due to hurricanes.
A hurricane in the form of an international public health emergency has been named - Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), or the novel coronavirus outbreak. This outbreak is an evolving, growing global concern, and travel worries seem to be at the eye of the storm. How can travel insurance cover you and your trip with concerns about Coronavirus?
Most travel insurance companies are still warning that, for those travelers purchasing a policy since the outbreak has been a "known threat" (in mid-January), there is no specific coverage for this particular reason with regards to trip cancellation and interruption - no matter the destination. If a traveler is afraid or hesitant to travel due to potential related health risks, such travelers can purchase a travel insurance policy with an optional "Cancel For Any Reason" (CFAR) included or as an upgraded benefit.
Helpful Tips: Thinking towards your next trips, if you intend to purchase a trip protection style plan to cover your full trip cost, the benefits and upgrade options are much more comprehensive the earlier you purchase a policy.
- Cancel for Any Reason: The option to upgrade a policy to include Cancel for Any Reason benefits is generally only available if the insurance policy is purchased within 10 days from the date the traveler makes the initial trip purchase of any kind for the relevant trip.
- Pre-existing Conditions: Coverage for trip cancellation and interruption due to pre-existing conditions could be included if you purchase the policy within two or three weeks from making the initial trip purchase of any kind for the relevant trip, depending on the specific policy.
- Coverage for CDC Alerted Concerns: Look for a plan that includes coverage for cancellation and interruption for when the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issues a travel warning that travel should be avoided to Your destination country or region for a period of time that would include Your Trip (applicable if the concern is not a known threat at the time the insurance plan is purchased). NOTE: Such coverage may not be applicable depending on the state you are a resident of.
- Medical Benefits: The medical benefits within your plan should still cover your medical expenses if you become ill during your insured trip. Most plans include coverage for medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation from one facility to the nearest adequate facility. This can be valuable aspect of the policy. NOTE: Some policies limit such medical benefits to emergencies only. Try to purchase a plan that does not limit medical care benefits to emergencies only.
Furthermore, travel planners and operators could find it helpful to contact their insurance company or agent who manages their business liability coverage in order to discover how your company is covered should you be forced to cancel a trip due to this concern, and how that impacts and exposes your company.
Remember that this is an evolving situation. It is suggested that travelers do what they can to remain informed and educated of new developments by monitoring alerts. The US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are escalating their awareness and heightening warnings and alerts as the number of countries with confirmed cases rises.
All travelers are also advised to become familiar with their respective travel insurance policies with regards to benefits such as Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Accident & Illness Care, and Emergency Medical Evacuation to the nearest adequate facility. Wanderwell customers can register for, and login to their member profile at either GeoBlue or HTH Worldwide - depending on which plan they purchased.
We hope this has been helpful. Wander well...