Watching Your Wallet: Travel insurance likely won’t cover coronavirus-related cancellations

If you contracted coronavirus or are under mandated quarantine, you may be able to recover trip costs

Watching Your Wallet: COVID-19 and Travel Insurance

(InvestigateTV) - Spring break plans and vacations were just around the corner for many people. So, what happens to those travel plans in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak?

First, if you don’t have travel insurance, you have little to no recourse, and you are likely at the mercy of the travel site or vacation spot.

Some companies are starting to respond and offer refunds in specific cases.

For instance, Airbnb sent a notice to customers this week. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb is now offering guests full refunds and hosts no-charge cancellations for some date ranges. Those refunds come for trips booked on or before March 14 with a check-in date of April 14 or earlier. This does not apply to new bookings.

Groupon sent out a notice to customers that the company was extending expiration dates for existing Groupons for up to one year to provide the maximum amount of time customers need to redeem the voucher. The company said it would notify customers as it extends dates.

VRBO has put out a message advising customers on what they can do. The company has a policy that hosts give a minimum 50% refund if different stay dates cannot be found and is refunding its additional company fees in full. Refunds apply to trips booked before March 13 with a stay night between March 13 and April 30. VRBO is also asking hosts to allow full credit for future stay dates within the year with no added cost.

Several travel sites have issued other statements related specifically to coronavirus-related travel changes.

If you bought a travel insurance policy, according to travel insurance comparison site squaremouth.com, viral outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics are not listed as a covered event.

According to the site, "The coronavirus pandemic is considered a foreseen event by most travel insurance providers, meaning there are limited, if any, benefits available relating to the outbreak.”

Further, the site said canceling a trip over health and safety concerns is never listed in these policies. Just about the only way you can be covered is if you contracted the coronavirus or have been mandated to quarantine.

There is a work-around where you could recoup some money, but it’s only if you bought the “cancel for any reason” upgrade. This all also depends on when you bought the insurance. That purchase likely has to be before January 21, when this was considered an outbreak.

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