Travel insurance is a financial backstop that reimburses you for prepaid costs if you have to cancel or delay a trip. Coverage may provide reimbursement for nonrefundable airfare, tours or accommodations as long as you cancel for a reason covered by the policy, such as a natural disaster or the death of a family member.
Covered reasons can also include getting an illness diagnosed by a doctor (i.e., contracting COVID-19) or hospitalization — but you may have to show proof that your doctor says you’re too sick to travel. Changing your mind about a trip and concerns about travel advisories are not usually included as a valid reason for cancellation or interruption.
However, in some cases, you have the option to purchase cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage, which reimburses you for some costs without having to meet special conditions. This protects you if you decide to cancel because you’re hesitant to travel because of COVID-19.
Besides coverage for trip cancellations, interruptions and delays, travel insurance may cover costs resulting from missed connections, airfare changes, lost luggage, lost possessions and more.
Add-ons for travel insurance vary by provider, but here are common options:
- Car rental coverage
- Cancel for any reason coverage
- Interruption for any reason coverage
- Accidental death and dismemberment
- Additional personal belongings coverage
It remains a good idea to be cautious about COVID-19 when traveling, and reviewing health conditions for destinations can help you make decisions on the safest places to go. The U.S. State Department has a database with advisories by country you can reference before booking.
Before buying insurance, read through the terms of policies to decipher what pandemic-related coverages are provided. In most cases, cancellations, interruptions or delays because of COVID-19 are covered only if you or a travel companion gets sick or a family member gets sick at home and you need to return to care for them.
Cancellations from a health advisory at a location or because you changed your mind about traveling likely will not be covered. When in doubt, you can always contact the insurer with questions before purchasing the policy.