Denver travelers unsure of purchasing travel insurance as some policies do not cover epidemics

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DENVER (KDVR) — With spring break right around the corner, the coronavirus has a lot of people wondering about travel insurance.

“It would be difficult to imagine a travel insurance company insuring an event like this now because it’s already known to them,” travel expert and credit card journalist Jason Steele told FOX31.

According to Steele, most of the commonly used travel insurance policies, including those provided through credit card companies, do not cover epidemics or pandemics.

“Just saying I’m nervous I don’t feel like going somewhere, you’re not covered,” Steele said.

However, travel impacted by the coronavirus outbreak could be covered by travel insurance in very specific incidents.

“If there’s a government restriction in place that says if I arrive in this country I will be under quarantine, well that I think would likely be covered,” he said.

Right now only travel to China and Iran would fall into that category. Although, Steele says, even without travel insurance many travelers are finding flexibility with their tickets.

“Right now none of the major airlines are even flying to china so if they cancel your flight, you don’t need any insurance, you’re entitled to your money back,” he said.

Several major carriers including United Airlines, Delta and Frontier Airlines are waiving some or all change and cancelation fees right now to accommodate travelers.

“Thankfully I think the travel industry has been responding in a mostly positive way of offering all sorts of travel waivers and fee waivers,” Steele said.

For travelers with expensive, once-in-a-lifetime type trips planned, Steele suggests a “Cancel For Any Reason” travel insurance policy.

“They typically cost about 7 to 10 percent of the cost of your travel,” he said. “It’s a big expense and even should you cancel it would be a large portion of your expenses you would not be reimbursed for.”

For average vacation and travel plans, Steele suggests booking flexible fares for flights and refundable hotel rooms.

“I always thought that was a very inexpensive form of travel insurance,” he said. “There’s always reasons things get cancelled. There’s weather, there’s geopolitical situations, you could get sick yourself for things unrelated to coronavirus so I’ve rarely wanted to lock myself into a completely non-refundable travel reservation.”

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