Will My Travel Insurance Cover Coronavirus?

Look into your travel insurance policy to see if it covers cancellations for "epidemic-related" reasons.

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If you have upcoming travel plans and are considering a travel insurance policy, check if it covers COVID. Not all providers do, and it's important to know for sure. So, does your travel insurance cover COVID? How can you tell?

As with many things in life, the short answer is: "It depends." And the long answer is: You can only start to determine if your insurance covers COVID when you understand what type of coverage you have, which provider you bought it from and what the exact reason is for your trip cancellation.

While we can give general guidance as to most travel insurance plans, it is in your best interest to give your insurance provider a call to verify whether a given policy will cover coronavirus-related interruptions.

Reasons that travel insurance typically covers

While not a comprehensive list (and remember all insurance policies are different), here are some standard reasons when a comprehensive travel insurance policy will kick in:

  • Sickness, injury or death.

  • Common carrier cancellations or delays.

  • Labor strike.

  • Car accident.

  • Hijacking or quarantine.

  • Jury duty.

  • Home uninhabitable.

  • Destination uninhabitable.

  • Travel document theft.

  • Medical evacuation.

  • Military duty.

  • Military leave revoked.

  • Job loss.

  • Terrorist act.

  • New vaccination requirements.

  • Civil disorder.

Some of those reasons might apply to your specific coronavirus situation, such as if you are already ill or under quarantine by a doctor's orders. If you (or your travel companion) contract COVID-19, your travel insurance provider may cover cancellation for a medical reason. You will likely be required to submit a medical diagnosis from a physician.

Nonetheless, we recommend giving your travel insurance provider a call before your trip to verify coverage. And, since many airlines and hotels have loosened change and cancellation policies due to COVID-19, first try to get a refund from the travel supplier. It may be an easier process than dealing with the insurance provider.

Is coronavirus a foreseen event?

If you purchased travel insurance after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020, then COVID-19 might be viewed by your insurance company as a foreseen event and it may not be covered.

In other words, the company says that you should have known about the potential risks but still chose to travel, so the cost of travel and its consequences are on you. We recommend checking with your insurance provider about the "known" or "foreseeable" status dates of the coronavirus outbreak and how this may affect your specific coverage.

Claims due to known, foreseeable or expected events, epidemics or fear of travel are generally not covered, and coverage can vary by state. However, until further notice, although not covered under most plans, some underwriters are currently accommodating claims for:

  1. Under Emergency Medical Care and Emergency Medical Transportation Benefits: Emergency medical care and emergency medical transportation for a customer who becomes ill with COVID-19 while on their trip.

  2. Under Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption Benefits: Trip cancellation and trip interruption if a customer becomes ill with COVID-19 either before or during their trip.

  3. Under Trip Cancellation Benefit: Nonrefundable, nontransferable trip cancellation expenses for customers who purchased their plan prior to January 22, 2020, for trip components in Mainland China, South Korea or the Lombardy or Veneto regions of Italy and departing prior to April 1, 2020.”

However, due to the evolving pandemic over the past year, many providers have updated their policies to include coronavirus coverage. For example, in May 2021, Allianz announced the addition of epidemic-related covered reasons to its popular insurance plans. Plans are now offering accommodations for COVID-19.

Is "I’m afraid to travel" a legit reason?

Almost all travel insurance policies have a "fear of travel" clause. According to AIG, one of the world’s largest travel insurance providers, "Trip cancellation for concern or fear of travel associated with sickness, epidemic, or pandemic, including Coronavirus, is not covered."

If you bought a ticket, then become afraid to travel because of any sickness, that is probably not a covered reason. If you want ultimate flexibility in canceling your trip for any reason, you’ll want to consider "cancel for any reason" (CFAR) travel insurance coverage.

Consider Cancel For Any Reason travel insurance

"Cancel For Any Reason" coverage allows you to cancel a trip for any reason and receive a partial refund (up to 75%) of your nonrefundable trip costs as long as the trip is canceled at least two days in advance. You cannot purchase CFAR coverage on its own; it is an optional upgrade that is sometimes available when you buy travel insurance. Not all providers offer it, so if you’re looking for the CFAR supplement, you’ll have to ask your travel insurance provider about it or filter your online search accordingly.

Use your credit card's built-in travel insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance policies offer the highest levels of trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. Some premium travel credit cards include trip insurance as a complimentary benefit. Although the coverage limits may be below those offered by travel insurance companies on comprehensive plans, the limits may be sufficient for you. As with paid travel insurance, check with the provider to confirm if known conditions such as the coronavirus are covered.

As an example, we took a look at the policy for one of the popular travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. There are some notable bullet points that are common across many programs.

Similarly, this insurance will not cover a "disinclination to travel based on a pandemic." If you decide that you don’t want to travel because you might get sick or you are afraid to go, you won’t be covered.

The insurance does clearly state, however, that if you are sick or hospitalized before or during your trip, you may be covered by the plan:

  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life or sickness experienced by you or your traveling companion which prevents you or your traveling companion from traveling on the trip.

  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life, or sickness experienced by an immediate family member of you or your traveling companion when the accidental bodily injury or sickness is considered life-threatening, requires hospitalization or such immediate family member requires care by you or your traveling companion.

If either you or your traveling companion becomes sick and you are prevented from traveling, you may be covered. Also note that if a family member of either you or your traveling companion requires hospitalization and you are needed to care for them, that may be covered as well.

As with all things insurance-related, if you have specific questions about your policy or your credit card’s coverage, it’s always best to give the company a call beforehand. Still, the general consensus is that if you’re afraid you might contract COVID-19, your insurance won't cover you.

How travel medical insurance differs

If your trip doesn't include nonrefundable trip costs paid to a travel provider or the trip insurance coverage you have from your credit cards is sufficient, purchasing a standalone travel health insurance policy may be your best bet for an upcoming trip.

These policies provide reimbursement for emergency medical expenses, including evacuations, while you’re traveling. Again, it's important to check if the policy you’re considering has any clauses related to pandemics or exclusions for travel to countries that have current travel advisories to ensure you don't nullify your medical coverage.

Frequently asked questions

It depends. Fear of travel generally isn't an allowable reason, so you won't benefit from trip cancellation coverage for nonrefundable payments made to a trip supplier. The reason for cancellation has to fall into one of the unforeseen events listed in the policy. However, if you’ve purchased a CFAR add-on and want to cancel, you will be covered for up to 75% of your nonrefundable deposit as long as you cancel at least two days before the departure date.

Although staying home is the best way to safeguard yourself and others from catching coronavirus, there are some general precautions you can take to reduce the spread. According to the CDC, a few ways include: Checking if the destination you’re going to has increasing cases in the past seven days, knowing whether you’re at an increased risk for severe illness from coronavirus and staying up to date with the airline’s and destination’s requirements/restrictions for travelers (such as wearing masks, enforcing quarantine, etc.). If you choose to travel, consider purchasing a travel insurance policy or a standalone emergency medical insurance plan just in case.

How can I be sure if my travel insurance covers COVID?

Deciding whether to travel during the coronavirus pandemic is a personal decision. Get familiarized with the different insurance protections and airline change/cancellation policies that may be applicable for your trip, as they could help you get your money back in the event of a trip cancellation.

When considering the health implications of travel, keep in mind that travel medical insurance is an option, especially if you don’t need the trip cancellation coverage provided by comprehensive policies. Regardless of which policy you choose, confirm that coronavirus-related losses are covered by insurance before purchasing coverage.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

partner offers

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 Bonus points offer - Terms Apply
Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
New! Earn a 30,000 bonus point offer - Terms Apply
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
25,000 online bonus points offer - Terms Apply

Partner offers

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With a $95 annual fee & an outstanding sign up bonus, this card is a great option, especially if you transfer points from other Chase cards
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on Chase's website

Highlights:
  1. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  2. Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X on dining and 2X on all other travel purchases, plus more
  3. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  1. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  2. Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X on dining and 2X on all other travel purchases, plus more
  3. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
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Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Credit Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Earn unlimited points on all purchases and 3X points in a host of common spending categories. With a great bonus offer as well, this card offers so much value, all for no annual fee
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on Wells Fargo's website

Rates & Fees
Highlights:
  1. Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  2. Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases
  3. $0 annual fee
  1. Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  2. Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases
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on Wells Fargo's website

Rates & Fees
Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

This card makes its bones with simplicity and value: solid rewards on every purchase for an annual fee of $0
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on Bank of America's website

Highlights:
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  2. 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  3. Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  1. Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  2. 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  3. Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
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on Bank of America's website

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