It seems like only yesterday Ebola was headlining the news, scaring world citizens of a potential pandemic. Just when things seemed like they were under control, Zika virus took hold in South America.
At the time, these two epidemics left many travelers doubting whether or not they wanted to stick to their travel plans.
Those who bought insurance may assume they're covered. They purchased travel insurance! Only, their plan doesn't cover trip cancellation for fear of pandemics or epidemics.
That's right. Your travel insurance will not pay Trip Cancellation claims because you are afraid you will contract a virus at your travel destination. Luckily, travelers do have an option – Cancel For Any Reason.
How You Can Cancel for Fear Of Pandemic/Epidemic
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 allows exactly that – cancellation 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 not lose all of 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 additional benefit available to several travel insurance plans. 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.
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 2/14/2018, you'll cancel by 2/12/2018.
Providing Your Trip Cost
To be eligible for this benefit, you have to insure the full cost of your trip. If your trip cost $5,000, but only $3,000 was non-refundable, you still have to insure $5,000 to be eligible for CFAR.
How Much You Get Back
Most 3rd party travel insurance companies will provide 50% reimbursement for all non-refundable, prepaid trip costs. At TravelSafe, we reimburse up to 75%.
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.