Will travel insurance pay if you cancel a trip because of a health epidemic?

The short answer: Probably not.

Many travel insurance policies exclude trip cancelations due to a known outbreak of a disease. In the case of the recent coronavirus outbreak, it became a known epidemic around Jan. 22, 2020. In travel insurance terms, any travel you book or policy you buy after that time would have been during a known epidemic and therefore a related trip cancelation wouldn’t be covered.

  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China.
  • US Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

So what are your options, short of not traveling? Some companies offer “cancel for any reason” travel insurance. It typically costs at least double than standard travel insurance and uses marketing that promises to pay if you cancel a trip for any reason. These policies may cover more cancelations than standard travel policies, and they limit reimbursement to a certain percentage of the trip — 75% is a common figure.

As with any insurance policy, read the fine print before you decide if you want to buy it. If you have questions about the policy, ask the company before you buy it.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to assist public health partners in responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak first identified in Wuhan, China.
WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Written by

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler regulates the insurance industry and protects insurance consumers.

Commissioner’s Eye on Insurance

The Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner protects insurance consumers and oversees the insurance industry.

More From Medium

More on Washington State from Commissioner’s Eye on Insurance

More on Insurance Education from Commissioner’s Eye on Insurance

More on Consumer Protection from Commissioner’s Eye on Insurance

More on Consumer Protection from Commissioner’s Eye on Insurance

Coronavirus and health insurance

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade