This post was last updated on March 25, 2020. If you have new or additional info, comment below or forward to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be added to as soon as possible.
As the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to make an impact around the globe, businesses and organizations are experiencing numerous interruptions to travel plans. My own personal experience happened less than 24 hours ago.
Up until this week, I was confident I would be protected by my business credit card for any unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
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Table of Contents
My Own Experience
I feel fine, but coronavirus hurt my wallet.
For several weeks leading up to Expo West, an enormous conference for all things related to natural products, I watched as multiple companies announced they would not attend.
My own travel plans were booked, although not quite set. I had 48-hour cancellation options. I reconsidered daily. I watched for announcements from Expo West and New Hope. The show would go on.
I arrived in Anaheim the day before the conference was scheduled to begin. Thrilled to kick off the conference with Climate Day, I began unpacking and setting up my days.
An email came in from someone I was hoping to meet with, telling me they would not be attending now.
Less than an hour into my process, I received an email announcement. The show was officially postponed.
My first thought was to cancel my trip, return immediately, and be productive at home. Then, I thought about my credit card’s travel protection. Maybe it would cover me.
I knew I should call immediately, as the credit card company’s phone lines were on the cusp of receiving a large influx from fellow Expo West attendees.
My business card for this trip was with Chase. I spent an hour talking to both my benefits administrator and their travel center branch.
Any travel related to COVID-19 was not covered by Chase’s travel protection features on their credit cards. So much for that benefit.
Specifically, viral outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics are not listed as a covered item for credit card travel protection clauses.
One person I talked with in the benefits administration department told me of countless other card carriers left out and scrambling.
I prepaid through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The person I spoke to suggested I ask someone else for my money back. Someone like my boss or the hotel – knowing full well how the relationship between these organizations work.
In addition to this loss of money, time, and energy, it was suggested I should take an additional several days off and go on a vacation somewhere. The handling of the situation was ludicrous.
I began to wonder how other companies attending Expo West were coping and what their experiences were like.
Erica @CeliacBeast reported: “@Marriott allowed me to cancel only with a 2 day penalty $315 each day so about $700 I can’t get back. Hoping to keep blasting them on social to get corporate involved.”
Erica’s report amongst others were consistent. The Marriott was charging all of its guests a two-day penalty.
The Gotchas of Travel Protection
Generally speaking, credit card travel protection policies do not cover viral outbreaks, epidemics, or pandemics.
Travel restrictions to different countries can affect how the policy is used.
Using reward travel points may potentially give you some additional flexibility in lieu of paying with currency.
Some booking agencies will offer an additional level of travel insurance. These need to be read carefully.
Airlines are rapidly changing their policies, day by day.
Hedging Against Last Minute Cancellations
One of the safest methods for travel is to ensure you have time to cancel and be refunded. A no-cancellation policy will be the hardest to hedge against. If you are given a small window to cancel or postpone travel, that will be the easiest and cheapest option.
The easiest way to ensure a flexible or refundable travel contingency plan is to book directly with the company. Booking through a third-party organization will make it harder for the company to be flexible and accommodate your travel needs.
Many companies are willing to waive fees, but cannot do so if you have brought a third party into the mix. Coupled with long wait times on customer service lines, an extra phone call can add hours to resolve an issue.
Companies appear to be changing their policies day-by-day, usually setting major policies for the current month.
Make sure your travel insurance policy includes “Cancel for any reason.” or CFAR. Your prepaid and non-refundable costs will generally be reimbursed from 50% – 70%. Insurance often needs to be purchased within 14 days of your first trip payment, and must be used 48 hours in advance.
Travel Insurance generally costs between 5% to 10% of the total trip cost. CFAR clauses will increase the cost your policy.
General speaking, in reading through over a dozen policy and Coronavirus specific updates, the outbreak is a known event and not covered unless you directly contract COVID-19 or are quarantined.
Until further notice, we are providing coverage for emergency medical care and emergency medical transportation claims due to COVID-19 that otherwise meet the conditions of coverage for customers whose plan includes those benefits.
Trip cancellations and trip interruptions due to known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, or fear of travel are generally not covered.
For a temporary period, we are 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 COVID-19, 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 COVID-19, such as for a broken leg). Customers may also change their plan’s effective dates to cover a new or rescheduled trip.
As of January 21, 2020, the Coronavirus is a known event. Quarantine is no longer considered unforeseen for Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption for policies purchased after 1/21/2020. However, coverage is still available for medical and emergency medical evacuation expenses in the event that a traveler contracts the disease while on their trip.
Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption due to fear of contracting an illness is not covered.
There are no applicable triggers that allow for trip cancellation coverage for the coronavirus, including canceling a trip for fear of contracting the virus while traveling.
If travelers purchase Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) within the required time frame, it could apply and allow the insured to cancel for fear of traveling, provided they meet the requirements for CFAR.
Benefits may include coverage for Travel Delay if an insured is delayed the required amount of time (stated in the plan document) for an applicable covered reason. Possible covered reasons include:
- Any delay of a Common Carrier (the delay must be certified by the common carrier)
If you become ill with Coronavirus while traveling, your medical expenses can be covered.
As of January 21, 2020, the China coronavirus outbreak is no longer considered an unforeseen event.
Tin Leg policies purchased prior to January 21 may provide coverage related to the outbreak, including Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption.
In order for a traveler to be covered to cancel or interrupt their trip due to an infectious disease, the traveler or their traveling companion would need to be physically quarantined themselves. Fear of traveling, a travel advisory, or a destination being inaccessible due to the virus outbreak is not covered under Tin Leg policies.
Tin Leg policies can provide Emergency Medical coverage for a traveler’s incurred medical expenses if they become infected during their trip, as well as Medical Evacuation coverage if their sickness requires an evacuation.
Trip cancellation for concern or fear of travel associated with sickness, epidemic or pandemic, including Coronavirus, is not covered.
CFAR coverage is only available at the time a plan is purchased and must be within 15 days of your initial trip deposit. As a result, if you have an existing insurance policy, you are not eligible to add on CFAR coverage.
If you contract Coronavirus prior to your departure, you would be covered for Trip Cancellation if there is a confirmed diagnosis, including proof of illness from your doctor that states you are medically unable to travel at the time of departure.
You are eligible for a refund of your premium under the following conditions:
- You purchased your policy within 15 days of requesting a refund from Travel Guard,
- You have not started your trip, and
- You have not filed a claim.
Travel Insured International
Your trip must be cancelled due to a covered reason. One covered reason for Trip Cancellation or Interruption that could apply is quarantine . Another covered reason is if your arrival on the trip is delayed and causes you to lose 50% or more of your scheduled trip duration, due to the reasons covered under the Missed Connection Benefit.
Cancel for Any Reason* allows you to cancel no matter the reason, as long as you cancel 48 or more hours prior to your scheduled departure date. You are able to cancel your trip plans and recover up to 75% of your non-refundable trip cost. As a reminder, you must purchase your plan within 21 days of the date your initial deposit made toward your trip is received in order to be eligible for this benefit (additional terms apply).
Airline Cancellation Policies
Some travelers can retrieve booking and change their flights free of charge.
- Tickets purchased on or before February 26, 2020 for travel through April 30, 2020
- Saver fare for travel through April 30, 2020
- Non-refundable First Class, main, or award tickets for travel through April 30, 2020
- New tickets purchased between February 27, 2020 and March 31, 2020: Non-refundable first class, main cabin and award tickets
- For award ticket travel booked before February 26 for travel through March 31, or if you booked a ticket between February 27 and March 31 for travel anytime in the next year; however you will need to pay for the difference in mileage cost.
Customers with reservations may request a one-time change to their travel plans without incurring change / cancel fees.
- Tickets bought before March 1, 2020 and scheduled to travel until April 30
- Cash tickets booked between March 1 and 31, 2020
- Tickets bought to Europe, including the United Kingdom on March 11 or earlier for travel through May 31,2020.
- Tickets bought to Italy or South Korea purchased on or before February 24, 2020
- Tickets bought to Hong Kong purchased on or before January 28, 2020
- Tickets bought to China bought on or before January 24, 2020
- Award tickets booked before March 1 for travel through April 30, or for any tickets booked in March.
- Tickets purchased on or before March 9, 2020 for travel until April 30, 2020
- Tickets purchased between March 1 and 31 for travel until February 25, 2021
- Award tickets scheduled to travel before April 30
- Award tickets booked in March for travel between now and February 2021
- Tickets booked before March 10, 2020 for travel before April 30, 2020
- Tickets booked between March 10 and 31, 2020 for travel through November 9
- For reservation questions call: 1 (801) 401-9000
- Tickets for flights booked between March 1 and March 31, 2020
- Tickets booked for the Merrie Monarch Festival are eligible for refunds for flights on April 11 to 17, 2020 for travel to Hilo (ITO) and Kona (KOA) and April 15 to 21, 2020 for travel from Hilo (ITO) and Kona (KOA).
- Bookings made prior to March 9, 2020 for travel between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020.
Details can be found here.
- All flights on March 10 through April 30, 2020.
- Tickets for travel dates before June 1, 2020.
- Tickets for flights booked between March 6 and 31, 2020 for flights before September 8, 2020.
- Award tickets booked for travel before April 30, or for tickets booked in the month of March.
Southwest Airlines never charges Customers a fee to change or cancel their flight. If a Customer’s plans change, or they decide they no longer want to travel, the funds used to pay for their flight can be applied to future travel – as long as they cancel their flight at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. The funds are valid for future travel up to one year from the original purchase date and must be used by the individual named on the ticket.
- Allowing a one-time fee-free change or cancellation flight credit for all tickets.
- If you choose to cancel, your flight credit is valid for six months.
- Tickets purchased from March 3 to 31, 2020
- Tickets purchased prior to March 3, 2020 for travel until April 30, 2020 can be re-booked for a year from the original ticket issue date or December 31, 2020—whichever is earlier.
Car Rental Cancellation Policies
For car rentals overall, you are going to be better off NOT prepaying for any rentals, but to book in advance. Most car rental companies will provide a free cancellation if you are able to cancel more than 24 hours in advance.
Avis (UK info only, may apply to US)
- Cancellation fees for any “Pay on Collection” customers impacted by Coronavirus-related travel bans, will be waivered.
- Cancellation fees for any “Pay Online” (pre-pay) rental customers impacted by Coronavirus-related travel bans, will be waivered.
From email on March 12, 2020:
While we look forward to continuing to serve you during this time, we recognize some travel plans may change. To provide you with flexibility for these changes, we are extending our existing no-fee cancellation policy to include customers with pre-paid rentals booked directly through us. Customers who have booked through a third-party are encouraged to contact that party directly.
North American website & app:
If you did not prepay for your reservation, there will not be a cancellation fee.
If you prepaid for your vehicle, the following conditions will apply (applicable in US and Canada only):
- If you cancel your booking more than 1 day (24 Hours) before your specified pick-up time, you will receive a full refund minus a cancellation fee of USD $50 / CAD $65.
- If you cancel your booking less than 1 day (24 Hours) before your specified pick-up time, you will receive a full refund minus a cancellation fee of USD $100 / CAD $135.
1. Hertz allows you to cancel a prepaid reservation:
a. online by the ‘Modify/Cancel’ reservation page
b. by calling the Internet Helpdesk
2. A full refund of the prepaid reservation will be made:
a. If the cancellation is made no later than midnight two (2) days before the date of your scheduled pick-up;
b. Less an administrative charge of EUR 45.00, GBP 30.00, CHF 65.00, SEK 300.00, NOK 300.00, ZAR 450.00, DKK 300.00, AED 200.00, SAR 200.00, KWD 20.00, RUB 1,800.00, OMR 25.00, QAR 200.00, BHD 25.00, USD 60.00, PLN 200.00 if the cancellation is made after this time.
3. Refunds will be made to the credit card that the original booking was made on.
Hotel Cancellation Policies
- Fee-free change and cancellation policy for:
- Existing bookings for stays before April 30, 2020
- New bookings made until April 30, 2020
F-free change and cancellation policy for:
- All existing or new bookings for stays between March 9 and April 30, 2020.
- Hyatt offers a fee-free change and cancellation policy for:
- Existing bookings made before March 13, 2020 for travel before April 30, 2020.
- New bookings made after March 13, 2020 for travel at any time.
- Advance purchase non-refundable reservations made on or before March 8, 2020 can be canceled for 10,000 Hyatt points instead of the original payment amount.
Fee-free change and cancellation policy for:
- Existing bookings for travel at any time as long as they are changed or canceled before April 30, 2020.
- New bookings made before April 30, 2020.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Only currently offering fee-free changes or cancellations for:
- All booking through April 30, 2020 if the request is received with 24-hours notice.
- All guests prohibited from traveling to their booked hotel under applicable law.
- New and existing bookings for stays after April 30, 2020 with a 48-hour notice.
The Forced Cirumstances conditions apply to the following reservations
All reservations made for properties in or by travellers from Mainland China with a check-in date on or before 31 March 2020.
All reservations made for properties in or by travellers from one of the following regions in Italy: Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Piemonte and Trentino Alto Adige, with a check-in date on or before 31 March 2020, all reservations made for properties in or by travellers from one of the following locations in South Korea: Daegu and Cheogndo County, with a check-in date on or before 31 March 2020.
Reservations made by travellers who have been to an area affected by Coronavirus, and have subsequently been banned from entering the country they intended to travel to, are also subject to the FC policy. In addition to the above-mentioned areas, FC also covers individual cases wherein a traveller cannot reasonably be expected to travel/stay (e.g. an infection in a hotel outside FC regions mentioned in this communication).
Chase Travel Portal / Ultimate Rewards
The Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption benefit does not apply to any loss caused by or resulting from, directly or indirectly:
Your disinclination to travel due to an epidemic or pandemic.
Unofficial interpretation: The only way to receive Chase’s travel protection is if you or your travel companion become infected with Coronavirus directly.
What Losses are Covered?
Accidental Bodily Injury, Loss of Life, or Sickness experienced by You or Your Traveling Companion which prevents You or Your Traveling Companion from traveling on the Trip • Accidental Bodily Injury, Loss of Life, or Sickness experienced by an Immediate Family Member of You or Your Traveling Companion when the Accidental Bodily Injury or Sickness is considered life threatening, requires hospitalization, or such Immediate Family Member requires care by You or Your Traveling Companion
Policies will vary from partner to partner. The dates and destinations change frequently as more is learned about the situation, so it’s super important for travelers to check in with their airline or hotel partner if they have an upcoming trip.
Some hotels are also offering various flex policies, and if you’ve booked through Expedia We have our own flex policy in place for all hotel bookings in China through March where we will take care of any fees upfront and make it as painless as possible.
Tours By Locals
Effective immediately, you can receive a full refund on any tour you book then choose to cancel due to the Coronavirus. You can book your tour with confidence, knowing that if the global situation changes and you choose not to travel because of this force majeure situation, you will receive a full refund. This applies to every ToursByLocals tour, in every destination, booked for anytime in 2020. This new cancellation policy will be in place until the end of April, at which point we’ll re-assess the travel situation.
CDC Official Page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html