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With the concern over the new coronavirus spreading everywhere on the planet, can I buy insurance that will cover cancellations of my nonrefundable vacation plans because of the fear of the coronavirus becoming epidemic or pandemic?

In vacation planning, there may often be nonrefundable deposits or monetary obligations for reservations of hotel rooms, airline flights, cruise-ship cabins or tour group participation packages. When you are unable to get all of your deposit returned or obligation cancelled, some vacation cancellations can be covered by insurance that you buy prior to the cancellation.

Standard trip-cancellation or -interruption policies typically cover 100 percent of nonrefundable expenses. The coverage is triggered by specifically listed “occurrences” under the policy definitions. This includes injuries, illness, forced quarantine, political travel restrictions, storms, earthquakes and even volcanoes.

New territory

However, insurance industry experts say there is no standard plan that covers trip cancellations based on perceived disease epidemics or pandemics. However, the one type of insurance one can book after booking Bali is a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) plan. These are plans that allow prospective vacationers to cancel for any reason or no reason. They are typically an add-on coverage to a standard purchased plan.

One down side to CFARs is their expense. Some insurance analysts suggest they are 30 to 60 percent higher than a base-price purchase fee for a standard vacation insurance.

And usually, the entire nonrefundable costs of the trip must be insured rather than certain elements. Furthermore, carriers typically require such coverage be bought in the window of one to three weeks from the time of your initial trip deposit, and the cancellation must be made usually at least two days prior to departure.

Different CFAR plans cover different percentages of the nonrefundable costs and usually not nearly 100 percent. Many cover only about 50 to 75 percent of the nonrefundable amounts. Of course, the higher the percentage of coverage requires a higher premium.

Travel-insurance carriers don’t have standard coverage for epidemics or pandemics as they might go bankrupt were they to have such an event as a cancellation “occurrence,” not to mention the difficulty of defining when such event “occurs.”

Playing it safe

Discussion abounds in the news about whether the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be cancelled. Sporting events in Italy are being played in empty stadiums, and the country has just announced it is closing all schools. France also has closed primary and secondary schools in certain regions. Many sporting events throughout east Asia have been postponed.

Even the NBA has recommended to its players that they not high-five one another or the fans, nor take any pens or articles from the fans so as to sign an autograph with or upon them. No mention was made about not touching the basketball, however.

A recent Carnival Princess cruise ship became a floating prison to 5,000 people when several passengers tested positive for coronavirus. Such events may give one pause to consider their vacation plans and the option to buy the appropriate insurance coverage, including CFARs.

Can you afford to buy it?

Can you afford not to?

Bali awaits your decision.

Brett Kepley is a lawyer with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Inc. Send questions to The Law Q&A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820.