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Travel Insurance: Does it Cover Me from the Coronavirus?

By February 4, 2020October 6th, 2020Insurance

Person with mask

What about other Foreign Diseases and Ailments?

Recently, my husband and I traveled out of the country for a couple of weeks. We discovered a completely different culture and ate tons of food.  Prior to leaving we had some major concerns around the possibility of getting sick or injured while traveling so far from home. Ultimately, we ended up purchasing travel insurance and we were happy knowing we had that peace of mind. This was especially true as we entered Southeast Asia and heard rumors of typhoid, malaria, and even the plague being passed around rural parts.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus, travelers are more concerned than ever about what their travel Insurance or travel accident insurance really does cover.

If you haven’t heard the news, the coronavirus also known as the Wuhan Coronavirus is a new, never experienced virus that started by being transferred from animals in Wuhan, China. Coronavirus has many strains including SARS and MERs. It causes a viral pneumonia that is not responsive to our viral antibiotics for the flu. As of January 31, 2020, already there are 231 confirmed deaths and 7,700 confirmed cases.

This situation has left many travelers currently en route or about to start their journey wondering whether travel insurance will help recoup the cost from travel plans if they decide to delay their trip. The other question travelers are facing is whether their medical expenses will be covered if they catch this virus abroad.

The key rule of most insurance is this: insurance covers what happened to you, not what might happen to you.

Let’s answer a few of the top questions we know are top of mind.

Will Travel Insurance Reimburse My Trip Cost If I decide not to go?

Short and sweet. Doubtful.

There are limitations on what the insurance deems cancellation coverage. While the CDC has suggested no-one travel to China at this time, it is not prevented. Unfortunately, a virus outbreak does not usually fall under the cancellation stipulations. Even if you prepaid for events or tours, insurance will most likely not cover this unless a covered cancellation reason occurs.

What if My Flight is Cancelled?

You may have a little hope. Many airlines are cutting back frequency or cancelling flights all together. Since Travel Insurance typically covers prepaid trip expenses, you may be able to recoup some of the cost including flight costs and pre booked excursions if the flight is completely cancelled. This may not apply if credits or free changes are given by the airline.

What if I get Sick with Coronavirus while Travelling?

Timeline is going to play a major role, but there will probably be some coverage. Since travel insurance is typically scheduled for the duration of a trip, IF there is medical coverage, they are only going to pay for ailments that happened within that time frame.

This may not be the case if you purchased your policy after a certain date. Why? Because different diseases are known to be a possible foreseeable circumstance that you knowingly take on the risk of contracting while traveling abroad. Once an outbreak occurs, insurance companies may set a cutoff for coverage on a certain date.

Is there Anything Else I Should Consider?

Sure. While insurance is not going to cover this, a side effect of virus outbreak can potentially be quarantine. What is quarantine? It is an area in which people or animals exposed to possible infectious diseases in which no one is allowed in…or out. Prior to traveling make sure that you’re not going to an area where that is already occurring OR has a high likelihood of happening. Vacations are fun, but quarantines, I’d imagine, are not.

In the end, the insurance companies can’t decide for you on whether to catch the flight or not.  While you may be fine health wise, there are chances you can be stuck in a quarantine. Gather information and make the best-informed decision for you.