BBB Tip: Travel Insurance May Not Cover What You Think it Does


Many big travel plans that people made for 2020 were upended by the outbreak of the coronavirus. Now, many are rescheduling those trips and looking to see if they can re-use canceled tickets – or if their travel insurance covered the cancellations. Does travel insurance cover COVID-19 canceled trips? The short answer, according to experts, is it depends on the policy and the situation.

In 2020, BBB received thousands of complaints related to travel insurance, most of which occurred because the policy didn’t cover the cancellation caused by the coronavirus and/or travel bans to certain areas. According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, the cancellation of a trip out of fear of traveling or in relation to travel advisories is not typically covered by these insurance policies.

However, travelers who purchased policies that include Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage may still have the option to recoup funds. It should also be noted that pandemics are often routinely listed as exclusions in policies, so read the fine print. In addition, travelers may also contact the airlines and other travel suppliers before filing a claim, to see if there are refunds, waivers, or other accommodations offered through those companies.

When thinking about purchasing travel insurance, consider these tips:

  • Travel insurance is intended to help with unexpected events, not things like forecasted hurricanes. Once an event is a “known event,” meaning it’s been forecasted or anticipated, it may not be considered a covered reason for cancellation if a traveler books a trip after that date.
  • Policies vary. Before purchasing a policy, or trying to file a claim, read the specifics on what the policy does and doesn’t cover. Contact the insurance company directly with questions.
  • Read the fine print. If CFAR was purchased, confirm the specific policy wording for all details regarding this benefit before filing a claim..
  • Be Flexible with travel plans. Dates, times and arrangements can change at any given time especially during a pandemic. Make plans but leave room for the unexpected.

Be aware of travel warnings issued by the U.S. State Department and Canadian Travel Advisories, and follow the recommendations on how to stay safe and healthy with tips from the World Health Organization. In addition, as policy makers and travel industry officials make decisions on where to and where not to travel, visit to research companies that offer travel insurance.

Be sure that the agency you choose adheres to BBB’s Standards for Trust.

Find travel insurance companies near you.


Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau

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