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“Cancel For Any Reason” Travel Insurance: What It Is and How It Works

by Brook Wilkinson | March 11, 2020

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, travelers have become more interested in travel insurance than ever. But with COVID-19, regular travel insurance won’t help you, because most policies don’t cover changes or cancellations due to fear of an epidemic (though some will reimburse you if you have to cancel because you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are quarantined). The only way to be protected in the event that you choose to cancel a trip due to concerns about COVID-19 is to purchase additional “Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) coverage. As the name implies, CFAR allows you to cancel your trip without requiring that you justify your reasoning. It may give you the peace of mind you need to book a trip—but there are caveats. Here are the main points travelers need to know about buying and using CFAR insurance.

Cancel For Any Reason coverage is expensive.

It adds 40% to 65% to your insurance premium. As an example, standard travel insurance for trip cancellation/interruption and medical expenses on a $20,000 safari may cost $1,000; adding CFAR bumps that up to about $1,500. And it’s likely to get even more expensive soon, given the rapidly increasing demand for such policies—so you might save some money by booking your trip sooner rather than later.

Don’t expect to get all your money back.

Exact figures vary by policy and based on your state of residence, but most plans reimburse 50% to 75% of your nonrefundable, prepaid trip costs. Some have a maximum amount that you can insure (e.g., $10,000 per person).

You can’t add CFAR at the last minute.

To be eligible for CFAR coverage, you must purchase it soon after you make your first trip payment, usually within 21 days.

You can’t cancel at the last minute, either.

You’re out of luck if you turn around on your way to the airport: You must call off your trip at least 48 hours prior to departure in order to be reimbursed.

Coronavirus is impacting the availability of CFAR coverage.

CFAR policies had previously been unavailable to residents of New York State due to state insurance regulations; on March 6, in light of concerns about coronavirus, New York’s governor announced that travel insurance companies could sell CFAR policies in the state. However, several providers have discontinued offering CFAR coverage entirely. Given the huge increase in demand for this coverage—and likely the increase in associated claims filed—we expect that other providers may change the terms of their CFAR offerings in the near future.

Is it right for you?

We are hearing from some readers who want to book trips but don’t want to risk losing 100% of their prepayment, should they decide to cancel because of the late-breaking possibility of being quarantined at their destination.  Those readers have been happy to learn about CFAR. So from what we are seeing, CFAR is an option that can provide some peace of mind, at a price. Whether it’s enough peace is a personal choice.

Which insurance company should I choose? 

There are many providers, and in our article How to Buy Travel Insurance: What It Covers, When You Need It, you can learn more about what to look for, what to avoid, and how to choose the right one for your specific needs.  As you comparison-shop, it’s worth considering Travelex. After researching travel insurance companies and hearing feedback about them from travelers for the past 30 years, Wendy believes that Travelex, although expensive, is the best in many circumstances. (They’re relatively likely to reimburse you and to do so quickly.)  That’s why Wendy has chosen Travelex as a sponsor of WendyPerrin.com. If you use this link for Travelex, you can help support our honest and rigorous efforts on behalf of travelers.

Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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