Even if you’re perfectly healthy, we know COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, has probably given you a great big headache. It’s certainly given us one. But in a constantly evolving situation, we are fortunate to have great travel partners who are quickly adapting their policies to the situation to ensure that our travelers remain safe and satisfied.
If you have an upcoming trip, we encourage you to monitor the State Department for travel restrictions at travel.state.gov and check the CDC’s latest reports at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. If you do travel in and around impacted countries, be prepared to follow the CDC recommendations for health screenings and quarantines. As always, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance to protect your investment.
While we are not medical experts, we are always here to help you navigate the murky situation as it develops. Making the decision whether to travel or not is a deeply personal choice. As travel advisors, we are here to assist our clients; their health, safety and well-being is our top priority. While we cannot make the decision for you, we can provide up-to-date, accurate information to help you make the right choice for you.
Several airlines are waiving change fees to make things easier for travelers. Contact your travel advisor for the terms and conditions offered by your airline. In many cases, you will be able to change your reservation without penalty, paying only a difference in airfare for your new travel dates. This is not the case with every airline, so again, please contact your travel advisor for specifics on your travel. As you might expect, airlines have long hold times at the moment, so we appreciate your patience in any matters where we need to contact the airline directly. Not having to deal with airline hold times: just another reason to be glad you booked with a travel advisor!
This is an especially tricky area, and here again we are especially fortunate to have such great partners willing to work with us and our travelers. Royal Caribbean International has rolled out a “Cruise with Confidence” policy for sailings on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea. Under the policy, guests have the chance to cancel their bookings up to two days before sailing. For sailings departing through May 31, guests canceling will receive a future cruise credit for any 2020 or 2021 sailing. Guests booked on June or July sailings can receive a cash refund or future cruise credit if canceling 30 or more days out, and a future cruise credit if canceling between 29 and two days out. For 2020 sailings departing July 31 or late, guests canceling up to 30 days out can receive a cash refund.
Many other ocean and river cruise lines, including Crystal, NCL, Viking, Oceania, AmaWaterways, Avalon, Holland America, Oceania, Lindblad and Disney have modified their policies as well. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you are booked on one of these lines or another, contact your travel advisor for the latest updates.
Many tour operators in affected areas have altered their cancellation policies. The altered policies are too many and too various to list here, so please reach out to your travel advisor for specifics on any tours you have booked, as these may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Our preferred insurance partners are working to provide travelers with peace of mind. Travelex customers and their traveling companions who contract coronavirus or are physically quarantined while coverage is in effect are eligible for trip cancellation/ trip interruption coverage. The illness must be certified by a physician at the time of cancellation or interruption. Travelex-insured travelers are eligible for emergency medical/evacuation coverage if they contract coronavirus while traveling. It is important to note that fear of travel, travel advisories and destination being inaccessible due to this illness are not covered risks under the Travelex Insurance plans. However, insureds are still eligible for trip cancellation/interruption coverage in the event they are prevented from taking their trip due to one of the other reasons listed in their Travelex plan.
Travelex plans where the cancel for any reason upgrade has been purchased allows the insured to decide for themselves whether to travel or cancel their trip according to the terms of the plan. Cancel for any reason benefits and costs vary by state of residence, but in all cases, the upgrade must have been purchased with the original plan, must be purchased 21 days of initial trip deposit, must cover all nonrefundable expenses and cannot exceed $10,000 per person. Contact your travel advisor for further details if you have questions about your coverage. If you cancel or reschedule a trip and do not need to file a claim, you can shift the coverage already purchased to a new set of dates.
For a temporary period, Allianz Global Assistance is offering refunds for the cost of your travel protection plan to customers who wish to cancel their travel protection plan if the customer’s travel supplier canceled the customer’s trip due to coronavirus, or if the customer’s covered trip included a trip booked to China, so long as no unrelated claim has been filed under the plan (i.e. a claim unrelated to coronavirus, such as for a broken leg). Customers may also change their plan’s effective dates to cover a new or rescheduled trip.
Coverage for emergency medical/dental expenses and emergency medical transportation may be available for a customer who becomes ill while traveling. Customers who are seriously ill or who are denied boarding by their travel supplier due to their serious illness, or have family members, traveling companions or hosts outside the United States who are seriously ill, may be covered if they need to cancel or interrupt their trip. Further, customers who are quarantined or subject to mandatory government-ordered evacuations at their destination may also be covered if they have to cancel or interrupt their trip. Customers cancelling or interrupting their trip for these reasons may be eligible to receive a reimbursement of their lost prepaid, nonrefundable travel deposits and other covered expenses, as specified in their plan. Customers who purchased a cancel anytime product and meet the requirements of coverage for that product may cancel their trip for almost any unforeseen reason and receive reimbursement for a portion of their lost nonrefundable travel deposits. If a customer’s travel is delayed due to quarantine or a travel carrier delay, they may be eligible to be reimbursed for covered expenses incurred as a result of that delay, depending on and as specified in their plan. MedJet services are heavily restricted in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. MedJet is assisting members in affected areas on a case-by-case basis under ongoing and evolving quarantines, restrictions and limits.
This is a fluid situation, and we are constantly keeping track of the latest updates and working hard to achieve the best results for our travelers. With the help our preferred partners, who have been going above and beyond to take care of our travelers while their own businesses are suffering, we are committed first and foremost to keeping you safe, but also to minimize any financial hardship for our travelers and getting you back out discovering the great beauty our world has to offer once this situation stabilizes. For more than 50 years, we have dedicated ourselves to traveler satisfaction and safety, and we’ve weathered many storms with our travelers. We are confident we will weather this one too, and we appreciate your faith in us. If you have any specific questions about your own travel plans please reach out to your travel advisor or if you have booked travel on your own reach out to us for a free 15 minute consultation with one of our advisors to help you make a educated decision on your upcoming trip.