COVID-19 and Travel: Answers to Travelers’ Questions

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COVID-19 and Travel: Answers to Travelers’ Questions

When it comes to travel insurance, so-called Cancel For Any Reason upgrades are the best course here. But they’re also very expensive and tend to cover only 50 to 75 percent of your trip, said Stan Sandberg, an industry expert and co-founder of TravelInsurance.com, a site that allows travelers to compare and buy travel insurance online.

“It’s important to note that with Cancel For Any Reason coverage, the insurance policy must be purchased within a set amount of days — usually 21 days or fewer, depending on the plan — after making the first payment for the trip, and the entire prepaid and nonrefundable cost of the trip must be insured. The trip must also be canceled more than 48 hours before the departure date,” Mr. Sandberg said.

At Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, for example, C.F.A.R. coverage costs an additional 40 percent of your total travel insurance premium.

The risk-reward ratio will vary by traveler. In addition to ratings and reviews of specific policies, TravelInsurance.com’s information about the claims process — and their respective outcomes — may be helpful in determining whether or not CFAR coverage is worth the outlay.

The short answer: Not really.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance, designed to reimburse certain nonrefundable expenses when a trip is canceled or delayed, is a perk of many travel-focused credits cards, including the American Express Platinum and Delta SkyMiles Reserve, as well as both Chase Sapphire cards (Preferred and Reserve).

But what’s actually covered varies, and health crises are particularly unforgiving to consumers. Chase Sapphire cards, for example, will only reimburse you if you’re quarantined “due to health reasons by a competent governmental authority having jurisdiction” — but not a “disinclination to travel due to an epidemic or pandemic.” In other words, if you choose not to travel — even to quite reasonably avoid a region affected by the coronavirus — trip cancellation and interruption insurance won’t help. American Express doesn’t have explicit epidemic inclusions (or exclusions), but cardholders might have luck claiming reimbursement by getting a doctor’s note stating that “a covered trip is medically inadvisable.”

Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease. According to medical experts, many of those who have died in the coronavirus outbreak had pre-existing conditions that weakened their ability to fight it. Travelers with an immune-suppressed system should talk to their health care providers before traveling.

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