FAQs: Coronavirus and Travel Insurance

What is coronavirus?

The current outbreak of coronavirus spreading around the world, developed in Wuhan, China in late 2019. The strain, named 2019-nCoV, also known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus, is a respiratory illness that is spreading from ill people to others. As of February 5, 2020, it is not yet known how the illness is transmitted. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) currently recommends that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to the People’s Republic of China. The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 travel warning, urging its citizens not the travel to China at this time.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of coronavirus can present as flu symptoms and have ranged from little to no symptoms to patients who are extremely ill. 2019-nCoV can be fatal. Common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. At this time, the CDC believes that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after initial exposure to the virus. 

How can I protect myself from infection?

As there is currently no vaccine for this strain of coronavirus, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Are my travel plans affected?

So far, there have been confirmed cases of coronavirus in China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, the United States, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, France, Vietnam, Canada, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, India, Italy, Russia, Britain, Phillippines, Finland, Spain, Sweden and Belgium.

On January 27, Mongolia officially closed its border with China and suspended university classes to prevent the spread of the disease despite no confirmed cases in the country. 

If you are planning on traveling to these countries in the coming months, your plans may be changed or canceled if the virus is deemed too dangerous or out of control. There are currently no flights directly from the U.S. to China. 

Can travel insurance help?

If you were traveling in China before the outbreak of the virus and have an active travel medical insurance policy, you may be eligible for medical and trip coverage. However, if you arrived in China after the outbreak occurred, the insurance provider may not cover you, dependent upon the specifics of your policy. However, standard travel insurance policies do not list virus outbreaks as a covered reason for cancellation. Unless stated in your policy documents, cancellation due to the virus will likely not result in reimbursement.

We recommend taking out a “Cancel for Any Reason” policy if you are planning a trip to an area affected by Novel Coronavirus. This way, if you decide to cancel your trip, regardless of the reason, you will be able to recoup some of the non-refundable costs such as flight and hotel reservations.

If I cancel my trip because of coronavirus, will it be covered?

If you have “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage and you cancel your trip within the limits of your contract, you will be covered. If you are planning on taking a trip in the near future, this kind of plan is prudent in case you need to cancel your trip. 

If you are canceling a pre-planned trip, you can contact your insurance provider and inquire whether they will cover this instance or not. 

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