You are booked to travel to China, but the coronavirus has scared you and you want to cancel. “I have insurance,” you say to yourself. “No problem.”
Not so fast.
Even if you have travel insurance, you may not be covered.
The standard wisdom about travel insurance: It covers what has happened to you, not what might happen to you.
Here is a Q&A on some of what’s covered and not, in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China that started in December and grows by the day. The World Health Organization last week declared it a public health emergency of international concern. And the U.S. Department of State has raised the threat level to 4 for China: Do not travel.
“Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the newest warning says. “Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.”
Travelers who had booked trips or are considering them must now face difficult questions, partly because their health and safety could be at risk and partly because their investment in a vacation may be threatened.
Here’s what we know so far:
Question: Are such outbreaks as coronavirus covered by regular travel policies?
Answer: Doubtful. “Unfortunately, there is limited cancellation coverage [for coronavirus] under most standard travel insurance policies,” Kasara Barto of Squaremouth.com, a travel insurance comparison site, said in an email. “Virus outbreaks do not fall under the standard cancellation reasons on most travel insurance.”
Q: But didn’t the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell travelers that they should “avoid non-essential travel” to China?
A: Yes, but in terms of insurance, Squaremouth noted, travelers “are not prevented from” going.
Q: Doesn’t the State Department say you should not travel to China, especially Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak?
A: The State Department has raised its threat warning, saying you should not travel to China. Previously the threat level was a 3, which means “reconsider,” except for Wuhan, which was a 4 (Do not travel.).
Q: The World Health Organization said that the outbreak is an international health emergency. Does that change the dynamics of insurance coverage?
A: No, insurance experts say, because now a coronavirus is not unexpected. The risk is there and not a surprise.
Q: But what if everything I wanted to see is closed?
A: Even if big attractions are closed and visiting them was to have been a big part of your trip, you still aren’t covered.
“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,” Squaremouth said.
Read the full Philadelphia Inquirer article online here: https://www.inquirer.com/things-to-do/travel/travel-insurance-coronavirus-wuhan-china-20200204.html