The Coronavirus: Will I be covered by my travel insurance?

As news reports continue about the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019, we’ve seen a lot of questions from travellers who have plans to travel to Asia or are in Asia today and are concerned about how this may affect their travel insurance. Kellee Irwin, VP, Orion Travel Insurance Company, helps provide clarity on the situation as it relates to travel insurance in this Q & A.

How the Coronavirus affects travel insurance for travellers, if you are travelling or planning to travel to China in the next few months.

Q: Is it too late to buy trip cancellation & interruption insurance for my upcoming trip to Asia now that I’ve learned about this new virus?

A: If you’re buying trip cancellation & interruption insurance now because of the possibility that you may need to cancel your trip due to the outbreak of the virus, your coverage may be affected. It’s always best to consider travel insurance when you’re making your travel plans to protect yourself and your travel investment.

Q: I’m supposed to leave next week for my trip to China. Can I cancel my trip and be reimbursed for non-refundable travel expenses?

A: As of January 29, 2020, a Global Affairs Canada travel advisory to Avoid non-essential travel to China was issued, so you may cancel your trip before departure and use your insurance for reimbursement of non-refundable, pre-paid travel expenses. Check your policy for “New and unexpected travel advisory from Global Affairs Canada” for more details.

Q: I’m in China right now and I want to come home early to avoid catching this? Is there a benefit to cover my early return?

A: As of January 29, 2020, a Global Affairs Canada travel advisory to Avoid non-essential travel was issued. Call your insurance company and speak with them to find out if there are options for you.

Q: I’m in China and have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus/have been to an affected area and cannot fly home on my return date. Does my travel insurance cover any of the extra expenses?

A: Yes, in most cases your travel insurance should offer coverage for the medical expenses and any extra hotel and transportation costs you may incur if your doctor says you aren’t able to travel home on your scheduled return date. Make sure to get as much documentation as possible from the medical facility and keep all your receipts. If your return home is delayed, what you’ll need is documentation from the treating physician in addition to your receipts. Make sure to call your insurance company to confirm all your benefits as each policy is slightly different.

Call your travel insurance provider if you have any other questions about travel insurance and always consider travel insurance when you’re trip planning to ensure you and your trip investment are protected. Travel safe wherever you decide to go this year.