Travel insurance may not cover what you think it does


The big travel plans that many people made for 2020 have been upended by the outbreak of the coronavirus. As the year continues, the pandemic continues to disrupt businesses, communities and consumer day to day activities. This is leaving many to wonder if they’ll be able to recover any costs from canceled trips by using the travel insurance that was originally purchased “just in case.” The short answer according to experts is, it depends on the policy and the situation.

Since March 1, 2020, BBB has received over 1,500 complaints related to travel insurance, 67.5% of which occurred because the policy didn’t cover the cancellation caused by the coronavirus or travel bans around the world. According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, the cancellation of a trip out of fear of traveling or in relation to travel advisories is not typically covered by these insurance policies.

However, travelers who purchased policies that include Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage may still have the option to request a cancellation. It should also be noted that pandemics are often routinely listed as exclusions in policies, so before purchasing trip insurance, read the fine print. In addition, travelers may also contact the airlines and other travel suppliers before filing a claim, to see if there are refunds, waivers, or other accommodations offered through those companies.

When thinking about purchasing travel insurance, consider these tips:

  • Travel insurance is intended to help with unexpected events, not things like forecasted hurricanes. Once an event is a “known event,” meaning it’s been forecasted or anticipated, it may not be considered a covered reason for cancellation if a traveler books a trip after that date.
  • Policies vary. Before purchasing it, read the specifics on what it does and doesn’t cover. Contact the insurance company directly with questions.
  • Read the fine print. If CFAR is purchased, confirm the specific policy wording for all details regarding this benefit before filing a claim..
  • Be Flexible with travel plans. Dates, times and arrangements can change at any given time especially during a pandemic. Make plans but leave room for the unexpected.


If people still desire to travel during COVID-19, be aware of travel warnings issued by the U.S. State Department  and Canadian Travel Advisories, and follow the recommendations on how to stay safe and healthy with tips from the World Health Organization. In addition, as policy makers and travel industry officials make decisions on where to and where not to travel, visit to research companies that offer travel insurance.

Be sure that the agency you choose adheres to BBB’s Standards for Trust

Find insurance companies near you. 

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