Feb 20, 2020
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Answers to Travelers’ Questions About the Coronavirus

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The risk-reward ratio will vary by traveler. In addition to ratings and reviews of specific policies, TravelInsurance.com’s information about the claims process — and their respective outcomes — may be helpful in determining whether or not CFAR coverage is worth the outlay.

The short answer: Not really.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance, designed to reimburse certain nonrefundable expenses when a trip is canceled or delayed, is a perk of many travel-focused credits cards, including the American Express Platinum and Delta SkyMiles Reserve, as well as both Chase Sapphire cards (Preferred and Reserve).

But what’s actually covered varies, and health crises are particularly unforgiving to consumers. Chase Sapphire cards, for example, will only reimburse you if you’re quarantined “due to health reasons by a competent governmental authority having jurisdiction” — but not a “disinclination to travel due to an epidemic or pandemic.” In other words, if you choose not to travel — even to quite reasonably avoid a region affected by the coronavirus — trip cancellation and interruption insurance won’t help. American Express doesn’t have explicit epidemic inclusions (or exclusions), but cardholders might have luck claiming reimbursement by getting a doctor’s note stating that “a covered trip is medically inadvisable.”

Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease. According to medical experts, many of those who have died in the coronavirus outbreak had pre-existing conditions that weakened their ability to fight it. Travelers with an immune-suppressed system should talk to their health care providers before traveling.

Mr. Kuriga, the travel adviser in San Diego, said that it’s a good idea to reach out to a travel agent or the travel company you booked a trip with because some companies might be flexible in their cancellation and refund policies.

“Not all companies are coming up with broad policies,” he said. “Some companies are dealing with it on a case-by-case basis.”

The simplest precaution is to purchase medical travel insurance, in particular, a primary-coverage plan that substitutes for your existing United States health insurance while you’re abroad. Look for hefty emergency medical coverage (at least $50,000, according to most experts) and emergency medical transportation coverage (upward of $100,000, depending on how remote your destination is). Deductibles, waivers for pre-existing conditions, and pricing vary by a number of factors; you can comparison-shop on TravelInsurance.com, Squaremouth, and a host of other sites.

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