Does credit card travel insurance cover coronavirus? 

You’ve planned a trip overseas but worry that the coronavirus could trigger a cancellation. If you or your tour operator pull out, will your travel credit card’s trip cancellation insurance reimburse your expenses? The answer is likely no.

Even comprehensive travel insurance plans won’t cover cancellations based on concerns about an epidemic. This is why you should check your card’s policy before you attempt to cancel — or plan — a trip.

[Read: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards.]

What Does Trip Cancellation Insurance Cover?

Some credit cards offer trip cancellation coverage, which applies when you pay for travel with a card that has this insurance.

Most policies cover the cardholder and immediate family members for up to $10,000 each and $20,000 per trip for cancellations due to severe weather, illness or other covered incidents. The latter even includes terrorist action or court subpoena. You can cancel if you become seriously ill before or during your trip, but not because of the threat of coronavirus.

If you have a credit card with travel insurance, you could use that instead of purchasing a stand-alone travel insurance policy. But keep in mind that coverage may not be free: Cards with trip cancellation insurance usually have an annual fee ranging from about $100 to $500.

Do Most Travel Insurance Policies Cover Coronavirus?

Your credit card trip cancellation insurance might cover an issue related to the coronavirus, but it depends on the situation.

Coronavirus is a concern for everyone, but especially for travelers crisscrossing the globe. The virus has killed at least 2,918 people and infected more than 81,100 worldwide, mostly in China, reports the World Health Organization.

As the virus continues to spread across the world, the risk of catching it has increased. If you think that you might need to cancel a trip because of the coronavirus, here’s how your credit card travel insurance may or may not help.

If you’re concerned about traveling: You aren’t likely to get reimbursement if you want to cancel a trip because you’re worried about catching the coronavirus.

Neither Chase Sapphire Reserve nor Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for instance, will cover trips canceled due to a “change of plans or financial circumstances,” or “your disinclination to travel due to an epidemic or pandemic.”

The Platinum Card from American Express offers trip cancellation insurance for seven types of incidents that could derail a trip: injury or death, severe weather, military orders, terrorism, court order, uninhabitable accommodations, or physician-imposed quarantine. Trying to avoid an epidemic doesn’t pass muster.

“If you’re just saying, ‘I’m fearful of going there because of the potential of catching something,’ I don’t think they’re going to cover you in that regard,” says Lee Huffman, travel blogger and credit card expert at BaldThoughts travel blog.

If you’re sick before a trip and need to cancel: Your chances of reimbursement are much better if you have an illness or injury before a trip, though that may provide you with little comfort.

Policies will clearly state that this is a covered area, within reason. American Express, for instance, covers the accidental injury or death of the cardholder, his or her traveling companion, or a family member.

Get a doctor’s note from an urgent care center or your primary care physician, Huffman says, if you canceled your trip and want to use your credit card travel insurance to get reimbursed. Keep in mind that coverage typically doesn’t apply to issues related to preexisting conditions, such as a chronic medical problem.

If you get sick during a trip and need to interrupt it: Your chances of reimbursement are much better if you contract an illness that requires quarantine during a trip. The trip cancellation insurance for The Platinum Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve counts doctor-ordered quarantine as a covered incident.

[Read: Best Airline Credit Cards.]

How Can You Get Trip Cancellation Reimbursement?

Credit card companies recommend a two-step process for claims. First, notify the company as soon as possible, and then, following its guidelines, submit your claim within two to three months of your canceled trip.

Say you have a Chase Sapphire card. You’re asked to contact the benefit administrator within 20 days of a trip cancellation and sign and file the claim form within 90 days, if possible. You can also file a claim online.

Also, if you’re going to provide a physician’s recommendation as a reason for canceling a trip, you might have a quicker timetable. American Express asks that you send this information to the company within 48 hours.

Should You Try to Rebook a Trip?

If cancellation with a refund isn’t an option through your credit card, you might try to rebook your trip directly with the airline and hotel. They may be willing to do so without penalties, though it’s not guaranteed, unless the airline or hotel has a policy for coronavirus-related cancellations.

Airlines have already canceled hundreds of thousands of flights — mostly to, from and within China — because of the coronavirus. And more cancellations are likely to come.

Several major airlines and hotel chains have policies in place to waive change and cancellation fees for some bookings. For example, JetBlue has suspended change and cancellation fees for new flight bookings made through March 11.

If you are concerned about the pandemic, Huffman says, pick up the phone. The airline may rebook your flight and waive fees, or a customer service agent may do the same.

“Every airline and hotel has a bit of gray area it can operate under,” Huffman says. “If you’ve been a loyal customer, they’re more willing to bend the rules for you.”

Another way to get a new flight is to take advantage of an airline’s schedule changes, which allow you to rebook without penalty.

“One of the great things about flights is that especially if you book far in advance, there will be schedule changes that happen on a regular basis,” Huffman says.

If a flight is moved — even by a half-hour — you can try to make a case to cancel your reservation or get a new flight because the schedule no longer works for you, Huffman says.

It pays to look into your options, even if you can’t find an official coronavirus rebooking policy. With hotels, you can usually cancel anywhere from 24 hours to five days before your trip without a problem, Huffman says. If you are loyal to a hotel brand, you may have an easier time if you need help with a refund — say, you prepaid for your stay.

You might also catch a break if you paid for the canceled trip with reward points. In fact, getting the points could be easier than obtaining a cash refund.

[Read: Best Travel Insurance Credit Cards]

Should You Buy Comprehensive Travel Insurance?

A typical comprehensive travel insurance policy may provide coverage beyond what you would get from your credit card. But it is still unlikely to cover a trip canceled out of concern for visiting a coronavirus outbreak area, says Kasara Barto, public relations manager at Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison website.

You can purchase some travel insurance policies with “cancel for any reason” coverage. Each policy spells out requirements for canceling your trip and getting reimbursed. If you meet the requirements, you could be reimbursed for your cancellation over coronavirus concerns.

You’ll typically need to buy your coverage within 15 days of making your trip deposit and cancel your trip at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure. With this type of policy, you can cancel and get reimbursed for up to 75% of the cost of your trip, Barto says.

Squaremouth has seen sales of these policies increase by about 77% within the last month or so, she adds.

A typical travel insurance policy costs between 7% and 10% of the price of a trip, Barto says. But one that allows you to cancel for any reason costs about 40% more than that, she continues.

This is the best option if you’re looking for peace of mind, she adds.

Just be sure to read the fine print. Some insurers are restricting coronavirus-related coverage because the issue is considered a “foreseen” event, Barto says.

That means cancellation and medical benefits might not be available for policies purchased after a cutoff date set by the insurer.

“This whole outbreak is really unprecedented,” Barto says, adding that the Ebola and Zika viruses didn’t have the widespread effect that the coronavirus has had. “Once the insurance providers believe the impact on travel becomes too high of a risk, that’s when they start to exclude coverage for it.”

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Does Credit Card Travel Insurance Cover the Coronavirus?  originally appeared on

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