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Does your credit card travel insurance cover coronavirus cancellations?

The spread of COVID-19 has made travelers wary — but trip cancellation is not automatically covered. Select explains the terms of the top credit card travel insurance coverage you could expect in the event of canceled travel.

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If you're hesitant about upcoming travel plans, you're not alone. Many Americans are second-guessing vacations due to growing coronavirus concerns.

Confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases total 117 in the U.S. and over 92,800 worldwide, according to March 3, 2020 data from Johns Hopkins University's interactive map. The spread of coronavirus has raised various travel warnings and restrictions that may cause you to rethink an upcoming trip.

If you purchased travel with a credit card that offers trip cancellation and interruption insurance, you may be covered under certain circumstances, which we explain below.

Select dug through the terms of top credit card travel insurances to list what coronavirus coverage you can expect to receive in the event of a trip cancellation.

Will my credit card travel insurance cover any trip cancellations or changes from coronavirus?

It depends — the key is whether you choose to cancel a trip, or if you have no control over the decision and the choice is made for you.

Credit card travel insurance has a lot of quirks when it comes to what is and what isn't covered. In most cases, travel insurance covers prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses including passenger fares, tours and hotels. These eligible travel expenses will only be covered when the full amount of each expense was purchased with your eligible travel credit card. 

Assuming these factors are true, your credit card will cover a canceled trip when you meet "covered situations," which typically include:

  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life or sickness experienced by you, a traveling companion or an immediate family member
  • Severe weather that prevents the start or continuation a trip
  • Terrorist attack or hijacking

Precautionary cancellations aren't likely to be covered. So if you're worried about traveling for fear of contracting coronavirus and choose to cancel or change your trip, there are slim chances your credit card travel insurance will provide reimbursement.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®'s guide to benefits states that "your disinclination to travel due to an epidemic or pandemic" is not covered by its trip cancellation and trip interruption.

Who will be covered by credit card travel insurance because of coronavirus?

There is a circumstance in which your canceled travel would likely be covered for coronavirus — and that's if you actually have it.

Quarantine of you or your travel companion imposed by a physician or by a competent governmental authority having jurisdiction, due to health reasons, is a covered event.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Guide to Benefits

If you become ill or receive notice from your physician that travel is not advised to an infected area, or because of your health condition, your credit card travel insurance will likely cover cancellations. And if an authoritative power, such as a governor or mayor, imposes travel restrictions, you may also be covered.

The Sapphire Reserve states, "quarantine of you or your travel companion imposed by a physician or by a competent governmental authority having jurisdiction, due to health reasons," is a covered event. Likewise, it states in The Platinum Card® from American Express guide to trip cancellation and interruption insurance that a "quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons" is a covered loss.

So if you are prevented from traveling due to contracting the coronavirus, or if your plans were interrupted by a politician's or physician's orders — you may be covered.

Other ways to be reimbursed for travel cancellation

The outbreak of coronavirus is a developing situation, and many airlines are working with customers to provide fee waivers and travel credit.

If you want to cancel a trip over coronavirus concerns and you're not covered by your credit card travel insurance, contact the airline, other form of transportation or hotel.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.