FAQ: Travel Insurance and COVID-19
What does travel insurance cover?
There are several types of categories of travel insurance including:
Trip cancellation. Reimburses pre-paid travel expenses if you are prevented from taking your trip for a reason covered by your policy. It is typically included in every comprehensive policy. You will usually receive reimbursement if your trip is cancelled for: unexpected illness or injury of you or a traveling companion that deems you unfit to travel; hospitalization or death of non-traveling family member; weather or common carrier issues; unforeseen natural disaster at home or the destination; a legal obligation such as being called for jury duty or serving as a witness in court.
Travel medical and major medical. Provides protection if you become ill or injured while traveling. Travel medical insurance provides short-term medical coverage.
Emergency medical evacuation. Provides coverage for services such as air evacuation and medical transportation to the nearest adequate medical facility then home if warranted. This type of coverage is useful if you're traveling to a rural area without easy access to medical facilities. In the event a person passes away during travel, repatriation coverage will cover for the insurer to handle the necessary transportation.
Accidental death and dismemberment. Provides coverage to beneficiaries if you die in an accident on the trip or pays a sum to you if you lose a hand, foot, limb or eyesight from an accident. Some plans only apply to an accident that occurs on an aircraft.
Baggage loss. Reimburses for loss of baggage or personal items.
Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policies. These policies are more expensive and typically only reimburse you a percentage of your travel costs. The reason for cancellation is not relevant. There is usually a time frame for when cancellations are allowed, and you must insure all of your pre-paid and non-refundable expenses. CFAR policies are usually added as an extra option in addition to trip cancellation coverage.
Does travel insurance cover COVID-19?
Most standard travel insurance policies are not likely to provide trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage related to COVID-19. If you have a travel insurance policy for an upcoming trip, coverage for COVID-19 will likely depend on two key issues.
- Whether COVID-19 was "foreseeable" when the policy was issued. Many insurers have declared a date after which they consider COVID-19 to have become "foreseeable."
- When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The policy may contain a pandemic exclusion.
I am concerned about COVID-19, will my travel insurance policy cover me if I cancel my trip?
Standard travel insurance (trip cancellation/trip interruption) does not provide coverage if you choose to cancel your trip because of COVID-19 fears or concerns.
What if I get COVID-19 before my trip, does travel insurance cover me?
If you contract COVID-19 and must cancel your trip, you are likely covered if you have a standard travel insurance policy. One of the most common covered events under trip cancellation/trip interruption policies is the illness, injury, or death of the traveler, a traveling companion, or a non-traveling family member. You may be required to provide documentation from your medical provider.
What if I get COVID-19 while I am traveling?
A travel insurance policy may include medical coverage for emergencies and evacuations. You will need to check your travel insurance policy to see if these coverages are provided. As with trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage, the claim may not be covered it was a "foreseeable" risk. Exclusions may also apply.
What if I miss my flight because long lines at the airport delays due to COVID-19?
Travel insurance policies do not usually cover you because you missed your flight due to extra screenings at the airport.
What if I cancel my trip, do I get a refund of my travel insurance premium?
Some policies offer a refund of the travel insurance premium. The offer may be for a partial refund and it may be offered for a limited period after you purchase the policy. You will need to read your policy for the specific terms.
If I am going on a trip, can I buy travel insurance to cover COVID-19?
If you purchase a standard travel insurance policy today, it likely would not provide trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage for COVID-19.
You may be able to purchase "cancel for any reason" protection in conjunction with, or as an alternative to, a standard travel insurance policy. This protection would cover the cancellation or interruption of a trip for any reason not covered under the policy, including any COVID-19 fears or concerns.
What is "Cancel for any Reason" (CFAR) protection?
CFAR protection may be offered with, or as an alternative to, a travel insurance policy. As the name implies, a CFAR benefit generally applies to cancellation of a trip for any reason. A CFAR benefit may apply if you decide to cancel your trip because you are concerned about COVID-19. You will need to read the specific terms of the CFAR benefit before purchasing because some policies may contain a specific exclusion, such as for pandemics or COVID-19.
CFAR benefits typically cost more than a travel insurance policy and it may be more expensive now versus before the COVID-19 outbreak. Be sure to know how much CFAR will reimburse for the cost of your trip before you buy the benefit.
What if my flight gets cancelled?
If you have an airline ticket and your flight is cancelled, you have rights, regardless of whether you hold a travel insurance policy.
For example, if your flight is cancelled and you do not wish to rebook your flight, you may be entitled to a refund of the unused portion of your ticket under your "contract of carriage" with the airline.
Does the Governor's declaration of a State of Emergency affect my travel insurance policy?
No, the Governor's declaration doesn't change the terms of your travel insurance policy.
Can the Pennsylvania Insurance Department help me if the insurance company or travel agent does not?
Whether you have a general question or want to file a complaint you can get help online at www.insurance.pa.gov or you can contact us at (877)881-6388.