The Zika virus has travelers scrambling to cancel or change their travel plans, but many are finding out the hard way that they’ll likely lose money if they cancel their trips. Here’s what you need to know if clients ask about the virus and travel insurance.
Only a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policy would cover trip cancellations due to Zika. While many people think travel advisories might provide reason for a refund, travel warnings have no influence on insurance. Fear of catching Zika isn’t a reason that most insurance policies will cover for cancelling a trip, unless, of course, the traveler purchased CFAR coverage.
Zika is a virus spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes), and the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. However, the virus has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of the Zika virus a global emergency, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised pregnant women in any trimester to avoid traveling to affected areas because of concerns about birth defects. Health officials have said the Zika epidemic is in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Check the CDC website for the latest Zika travel information.
If your clients are concerned about the Zika virus enough to consider canceling a trip, advise them to first contact their airline, cruise line, hotels or other companies with whom they’ve booked travel or lodging and inquire about their cancellation policies. CNBC reported that most major domestic airlines and several cruise lines have said they are relaxing change policies for pregnant travelers with existing reservations to an affected region. Eligible travelers may be able to reschedule a trip, pick a new destination or receive a refund.
If those companies don’t offer any breaks and your client has not bought any travel insurance, they might still be able to purchase it. Usually, CFAR coverage is only available for purchase within 10 to 30 days of the initial trip payment depending on the plan selected.
If your clients haven’t yet booked their trip and are concerned about Zika somehow impacting travel plans, suggest that they purchase CFAR coverage as part of a comprehensive plan. Be sure to explain, however, that CFAR coverage is different from trip cancellation coverage. Trip cancellation, which generally is included in comprehensive policies, allows cancellation for specific reasons, listed in the policy. (Again, fear of Zika would not be a covered reason, so CFAR is their best option.)
CFAR costs vary, because they depend on trip cost and other factors, like what’s available in each state. For illustrative purposes, let’s look at the cost for a single 34-year-old woman from California who is traveling to Brazil in July 2016, with a trip cost of $3,500. An AXA Assistance Gold plan would cost her $191. In contrast, a 34-year-old New York resident will have but one CFAR option available — a Travelex Travel Max CFAR policy would cost her $385.50.
If you or your clients have any questions about Zika and travel insurance, give us a call at 1-866-979-6753. Our travel insurance experts are happy to answer any questions and help you or your clients find plans at the best price. Remember, you earn referral fees for clients who purchase plans through Travel Insurance Center! It’s easier than ever to earn referral fees with our new tool — just make sure you add your affiliate ID to the end of this link — https://www.travelinsurancecenter.com/recommendation/ — and add it to your website, or email your custom link to customers. Not an affiliate? Sign up today to become a Travel Insurance Center affiliate.