Americans with traveling plans may want to look at their coverage if they’re worried about an outbreak.
If you’re headed away from home for a vacation or business purposes, it’s a good idea to check if your travel insurance covers coronavirus outbreak-related losses if you’re headed to a potentially affected area.
China has implemented travel bans unlike anything that has been tried before in a number of its cities.
The coronavirus outbreak couldn’t have come at a less convenient time in China. At the height of the Lunar New Year celebrations, it is traditional for people in China – and from around the world – to head to locations such as Beijing. That said, this year, many cities in the country now have travel bans and many of the most commonly visited sites and activities have been closed indefinitely.
The traditional festivals have been halted and even the Forbidden City and a section of the Great Wall have been closed indefinitely. As a result, anyone planning to head to certain regions of the country should check if their travel insurance covers coronavirus closings and the losses they may have caused.
The way travel insurance covers coronavirus outbreak risks differs based on your destination.
The mysterious illness causes symptoms that start as a flu-like condition – sometimes with fever, but sometimes without, and can progress to something similar to pneumonia. Chinese cities of Wuhan, Ezhou and Huanggang have all had travel bans implemented, as have other specific locations and cities in the country. Reports now show that the infection has spread to very small numbers – in some cases, single individuals who traveled from infected areas in China – in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. A potential case is being monitored in Canada and in Australia at the time this article was written.
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Health and biosecurity authorities in the United States, Canada and Australia have all been screening airport travelers. This process is creating delays due to the additional resources and hours required for additional testing when required in the case of a potential infection.
That said, at the moment, authorities are recommending that when they’re headed to destinations that do not include those in China specifically shut down to travelers, travelers should remain calm, and proceed as usual. Proper hygiene habits such as regular hand washing is always recommended.
Currently, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has not labeled this situation as being “too early” to consider it a global health emergency. As such, most travel insurance covers coronavirus losses only if the destination has a travel ban in place and your reservations have been cancelled or delayed as a result.
If you choose to cancel your trip as you are uncomfortable with the risk, despite the fact that your destination remains open for travelers and is not designated as a risk zone, insurers consider this as a “disinclination to travel”. Travel insurance will likely not cover your losses regarding a choice to avoid the coronavirus without official warnings or bans in place.