It seems like only yesterday the Zika virus was headlining the news. Travelers were scared, especially those who were pregnant or considering getting pregnant, and rightfully so. Epidemics and pandemics are always a reason for concern, especially for vulnerable populations. In 2020, we are faced with yet another outbreak – the Corona Virus Disease 19 (COVID-19).
Despite the Chinese government’s quick and attentive steps to control the coronavirus, travelers still have a lot of questions regarding their travel protection plans. The truth is, cancelling your trip for fear of contracting the virus is not typically a covered reason under the trip cancellation benefit provided by your travel protection plan, not unless you have the cancel for any reason.
There are exceptions and conditions to these rules, and, in this article, we will go over how coverage typically applies in the travel protection industry.
1. Trip cancellation: epidemics & pandemics
In 2007, it became clear that there was a need for this kind of solution in the travel insurance industry. The cost of insurance services needed to be kept at a reasonable rate, so opening up trip cancellation benefits to fear of pandemic and epidemic was simply not a possibility.
That is why, developing the add-on benefit that made all of this possible was a goal of TravelSafe. In 2008, we introduced Cancel For Any Reason, or CFAR, into the industry.
Cancel For Any Reason is exactly what it sounds like – you can cancel your trip for any reason.*
When Zika virus became an epidemic, many travelers weren't sure what to do. Several babymooners – couples who travel during the early stages of pregnancy – were scrambling for ways to cancel their trip and hand on to the money they invested.
Those who purchased policies without CFAR were not eligible for coverage. They did not have a covered reason for cancellation. They had not contracted Zika virus, they were not sick and unable to travel, they were simple recommended not to travel to those destinations due to fear of the pandemic.
Those who purchased CFAR were able to cancel and receive up to 75% of the non-refundable, prepaid trip costs back.
First and foremost, this benefit is completely separate from Trip Cancellation coverage. Cancel For Any Reason is an optional benefit. For TravelSafe, you can add the Cancel For Any Reason benefit onto our Classic Plan, which makes it the Classic Plus Plan.
For reasons like fear of disease, you would purchase Cancel For Any Reason. Should there be an outbreak in or around your travel destination, you'd have the option to cancel your trip. Had you been relying solely on the Trip Cancellation benefit, you would not be eligible for reimbursement, because fear of contracting pandemics and epidemics is not a covered reason for cancellation.
In order to purchase CFAR from your travel insurer, you'll have to meet their conditions. For TravelSafe, we've outlined these conditions below:
When to Buy CFAR
This will vary by company, but most companies require you to purchase Cancel for any reason coverage within 14-21 days of your original trip deposit. For TravelSafe, it's 21 days, giving you more time to purchase the insurance plan after you book your original deposit.
Your best bet is to always purchase coverage as soon as you begin planning your trip. You can always make edits to travel dates and trip costs if they change as you go on. The most important thing is ensuring maximum coverage.
When to Cancel
You'll use the Cancel For Any Reason benefit 2 days or more before your scheduled departure date. If you're scheduled to leave on 2/14/20124, you'll cancel by 2/12/2024.
3. Review Your State Certificate
Always review your state certificate. Some states, like New York, do not allow insurance companies to offer CFAR. Other states have strict regulations. It's important to understand your documents and always call your insurance provider with any questions.
Viruses have a long history with this planet, and they are not going anywhere anytime soon. The best thing we can so is prepare ourselves and manage the risks associated with them. As travelers, we can take precautions before and during our trips.
* For the Optional Cancel for Any Reason benefit, the insured can cancel his/her Trip for any reason not otherwise covered by the Plan and be reimbursed for 75% of the prepaid, non-refundable Payments or Deposits for the insured’s Trip (see Description of Coverage Brochure for complete details) provided: 1) the insured’s payment for the Plan and enrollment form are received within 21 days of the date the initial Payment or Deposit for his/her Trip is received; 2) the insured insures 100% of the Prepaid Trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and also insure within 21 days of the Payment or Deposit he/she paid for those Travel Arrangements (or any other Travel Arrangements not made through his/her travel agent) added to his/her Trip; and 3) the insured cancel his/her Trip two (2) days or more before his/her Scheduled Trip Departure Date. * Not available to residents of New York