The health and economic crisis created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on how we all will travel going forward. And though it may be difficult to think about planning a trip during these uncertain times, here are some things to consider if you do decide to travel.
1. Check your travel provider's cancellation policy. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many airlines and hotels have relaxed their cancellation policies by waiving traditional cancellation and change fees. The type of reimbursements will vary, depending on your travel provider, but may range from full refunds to vouchers/credit for future travel. It's important to contact your travel provider directly to find out their individual cancellation policies before booking.
2. Be aware of travel advisories. During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, global travel advisories were at an all-time high, and domestic travel advisories were issued for certain geographic areas within the United States. Your first step before planning any travel should be to check the travel advisories for your destination. Be sure to visit the U.S. Department of State website at state.gov, along with your state and local government, for up-to-date travel warnings.
3. Read the fine print. Before you purchase a trip cancellation/interruption insurance policy, read the fine print to determine what is specifically covered. Typically, it will reimburse you only if you cancel your travel plans before you leave or cut your trip short due to an "unforeseen event" such as illness or death of a family member. Most policies with cancellation and interruption coverage will exclude a "known event" such as COVID-19 once it's declared an epidemic or pandemic.
If you are concerned about having to cancel or cut short a trip due to the coronavirus pandemic, one option you may have is to purchase additional "cancel for any reason" (CFAR) coverage. This is usually an add-on benefit to certain traditional trip insurance policies and allows you to cancel your trip for any reason up to a certain date before your departure (typically 48 to 72 hours) and will reimburse a percentage of your trip cost.
CFAR coverage can cost quite a bit more than a basic trip cancellation/interruption policy and may have additional eligibility requirements. In addition, you usually have to purchase CFAR coverage soon after purchasing your original policy (typically within two to three weeks).