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Upcoming trip? Travel insurance may not cover coronavirus outbreak

Travel agents in Galveston say they're fielding calls from worried clients concerned about the Wuhan coronavirus.

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas — With more than 44,000 cases and more than 1,100 deaths, the World Health Organization is using its strongest language yet when talking about the Wuhan coronavirus, calling it a “grave threat."

195 Americans who evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, were finally released on Tuesday after two weeks under quarantine at an air force base in California. All were given a clean bill of health.

The largest outbreak outside of China is on a cruise ship docked in Japan where more than 170 cases have been confirmed, including at least 23 Americans. All 3,600 people on board are still on the ship under quarantine.

Nearly 1 million people are expected to board cruise ships out of Galveston this year, and travel agents in Galveston say they’ve been recently fielding calls from worried clients asking what to do.

There are currently no cases of Wuhan coronavirus impacting ships in the US. Most ships out of Galveston right now travel to the Caribbean or Mexico where the CDC has no travel warning in place for the virus. Chances of illness are low.

In addition, most cruise lines are taking enhanced measures to make sure an infected person doesn’t board in the first place. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, says, “All booked guests who have traveled to/from or through China, Hong Kong and Macau in the 14 days prior to their departure will not be allowed to sail.”

Most cruise lines have also enhanced their screening process.

One of the best things a traveler can do, whether cruising or flying, is buy travel insurance. However, it’s not all created equal.

The CDC recommends three kinds: trip cancellation insurance, travel health insurance and medical evacuation insurance. Trip cancellation insurance covers your financial investment. Travel health insurance helps cover medical bills while away. Medical evacuation insurance will pay for emergency transportation from a remote or poor area to a high-quality hospital, which could otherwise cost more than $100,000.

Most trip cancellation policies do not cover “fear," meaning you being nervous to go somewhere doesn’t count. And some policies even state they don’t cover epidemics. Consider looking into a "cancel anytime" policy. Different policies cost different prices.

Whatever policy you choose, it’s important to read the fine print.


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