Planning a trip in 2020? Here's the 'best option' for travel insurance and what it costs


While the coronavirus continues to spread, the Centers for Disease Control has issued alerts discouraging nonessential international travel. This means that that this summer, you might want to keep your vacation more local.

While experts say there are some risks to boarding a plane right now, it is financially savvy to purchase tickets for future trips abroad, as tumbling demand has reduced fares. International flight prices have decreased on average 35% because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Dollar Flight Club. Cruises, some of which are planning departures for late summer, are also offering discounts on voyages. 

And Americans are ready to travel: Roughly 1 in 5 people (19%) say they would travel right now, according to a survey from The Vacationer of 583 Americans. An additional 39% say they would be comfortable traveling within the next 3-6 months.

If you do take advantage of these deals before a before the pandemic eases, it's important to make sure you get the right type of travel insurance — one that will allow you to get your money back if you later decide to cancel your trip. 

The 'best option' insurance for travelers 

"During this time of uncertainty, cancel-for-any-reason remains the best option for travelers planning future trips," says Kasara Barto, spokesperson of Squaremouth. 

Because the coronavirus outbreak is now a known risk that is expected to disrupt travel, insurers would likely exclude it from newly purchased coverage, according to a Squaremouth explainer.

During this time of uncertainty, cancel-for-any-reason remains the best option for travelers planning future trips.
Kasara Barto
Squaremouth Spokesperson

Standard travel insurance coverage varies by policy, according to travel insurance search engine Squaremouth. But the three most common covered reasons for canceling are: 

  • A significant injury, illness, or death affecting you, a traveling companion, or a family member
  • Severe weather that prevents you from reaching your destination
  • A terrorist attack at your destination

This kind of insurance lets policyholders cancel trips for any reason, including fears about coronavirus. After booking your travel, you usually have somewhere between 14 and 21 days to get "cancel-for-any-reason" insurance, Barto told Grow earlier this year

Can you get a refund without travel insurance?

If you choose not to purchase travel insurance, you are at the mercy of the travel operator's refund policy. Airlines are only required to offer refunds under certain circumstances, and lately, many have been encouraging customers to take vouchers rather than refunds if their flight was canceled as a result of the pandemic. And cruises and resorts often have refund policies that scale depending on how close to your trip you're canceling.

How much comprehensive travel insurance can cost

Cancel-for-any-reason insurance is costly, though. While standard travel insurance is between 4% and 8% the price of a trip, cancel-for-any-reason is 10% to 12% the price of a trip, Barto says.

That can add up for an international trip. Maryland retiree Marjorie Bloom, who canceled a planned a trip to India and Bhutan for earlier this year, paid nearly $1,000 for her policy: "My insurance was $948 and my total trip, I believe, $10,200," she says. But that paid off when she was able to get all the trip costs back after the pandemic curtailed her travel.

If 10% of your trip sounds too pricey, remember you can always plan a safer, more local vacation, like taking a road trip to state park, and avoid the issue of the travel insurance altogether. 

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