Airlines are canceling hundreds of flights as Americans question their safety when traveling overseas.
Travel insurance plans, however, may not cover cancellations strictly over concerns about health risks. Those who are looking to cancel a trip simply because they are concerned about contracting the coronavirus must purchase an insurance plan that includes "Cancel For Any Reason" insurance. The benefit, however, is time-sensitive and has eligibility requirements, so not everyone will qualify, according to InsureMyTrip.com.
Most travel insurance will not cover a cancellation since travel insurance is "designed to cover unforeseen events," and coronavirus is considered a "foreseen event" unless travelers purchased the insurance before a designated date, Vox reported.
A comprehensive travel insurance policy typically needs to be purchased within 15 days of when a deposit on the trip is made. This policy allows travelers to get reimbursed for up to 75 percent of their trip costs. Most travel insurance policies can cost between 7 percent and 10 percent of the trip price, however a policy that allows travelers to cancel a trip for any reason can cost about 40 percent more, U.S. News reports.
Those who purchase a trip using their credit card that has travel insurance can get trips covered for between $10,000 and up to $20,000 for each trip cancellation due to illness or severe weather conditions.
Health officials believe that COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person contact between people who are within 6 feet of each other and through droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes. The virus can also be spread through contact with objects or surfaces that are infected with the virus, however, it’s not the primary form of transmission, according to the CDC.
The virus has killed at least 2,918 people and infected more than 81,100 people across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO declared the coronavirus a global health emergency, and many countries have started requiring strict screening procedures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Rebooking through airlines
If you are unable to cancel your trip and get a refund, consider trying to rebook the trip for a later date directly with the hotel or airline. American Airlines suspended flights to and from Seoul, South Korea, and Dallas-Forth Worth this week. Flights to Seoul, it said, are scheduled to resume April 25. The airline announced Thursday it’s waiving change fees for customers who purchase travel through March 31. Tickets purchased from March 5 to March 31 will also not incur change fees prior to travel.
And United Airlines said it would cut domestic flights by 10 percent and international flights by 20 percent in April with a decrease in travel demand. No change feels will be a charge, the company said, for any domestic or international flight tickets purchased from March 3 and March 31.
JetBlue, meanwhile, is cutting back flights by 5 percent, the Washington Post reported.
The virus outbreak, first reported in China, could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenue, according to the International Air Transport Association, an airline trade group. Governments have also urged people to refrain from traveling to impacted areas.