Insurance News

Corona Virus: Does Travel Insurance Cover China Trip Cancellations?

January 29, 2020 - Benjamin Manz

The Corona virus has literally got the world holding its breath. Are China travel bookings covered by your Swiss travel insurance? Find out here.

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has advised against traveling to the Chinese city of Wuhan due to the exploding Corona epidemic. If you have bought and paid for trips to China which you prefer to cancel, you may be wondering whether your travel insurance covers cancellations due to epidemics. Find out whether or not you are covered in this guide.

Do Swiss travel insurance policies cover epidemics?

Most Swiss travel insurance providers list epidemics as one of the hazards which qualify as reasons to cancel trips. This applies both to cancellations before a trip, and to trip interruptions – cancellations during a trip.

But there are exceptions to this rule. Standard travel insurance policies from Allianz Global Assistance (AGA), for example, do not include epidemics as a qualifying hazard (although some AGA policies offered through third-parties do).

What criteria must be met for cancellations to be covered?

Swiss travel insurance providers only reimburse you for non-refundable travel cancellations if a qualified authority advises against travel to your destination.

Most Swiss travel insurers specifically name the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and/or the FOPH. Some insurers also accept warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) as reason enough to cancel a trip.

Does your insurance reimburse the cost of cancelled trips to China?

The FOPH has advised against traveling to Wuhan. Because of this, losses resulting from cancellations of trips to Wuhan are covered by all Swiss travel insurance policies which include epidemics in their qualifying hazard lists.

Neither the FDFA nor the FOPH have explicitly advised against travel to China as a whole. Because of this, most Swiss travel insurance providers will not normally cover the cost of cancellations for trips to Chinese regions other than Wuhan. This situation can change in keeping with new advisories from the FDFA or FOPH.

Will airlines reimburse the cost of cancelled flights?

Some airlines have cancelled all or most of their flights to China. Unlike personal cancellations, which are covered by your personal travel insurance, flight cancellations are generally not covered by travel insurance. The airline is responsible to meet their responsibilities as per your airline passenger rights.

Both SWISS and Lufthansa are currently offering their customers the chance to rebook flights to China at no extra cost. Customers can also cancel bookings for a full refund.

What steps should I take to cancel a trip to China?

A good first step is to contact the airline to find out whether you can rebook or cancel for a refund (like you can with SWISS).

A second step is to contact your travel insurance provider (if you have travel insurance) to find out whether you can cancel and claim an insurance benefit. If insurance customer service personnel claim that your cancellation is not covered, review the terms and conditions of your insurance policy to make sure they are correct. If the terms and conditions include epidemics as qualifying hazards, the insurer should cover your cancellations in the event that the FDFA or the FOPH publish an official warning against travel to China. Trips to Wuhan are already eligible for claims.

Even if official government agencies do not warn against travel to China, you may still be eligible to file a claim. Presenting your insurer with an official advisory against travel to China from an international organization may be sufficient to claim trip cancellation benefits.

As a general rule, sticking to your claim and not easily backing down can pay off. Insurance company claims departments have flexibility in deciding which claims qualify, and their positions can change on a daily basis. In some cases, claims departments may accept claims even when they go beyond the coverage guaranteed in the terms and conditions.

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.