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Coronavirus Worries: Should I Change My Travel Plans?

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The recent coronavirus outbreak begs many questions. Should I change my travel plans? Should I buy travel insurance? Does travel insurance cover the coronavirus-related cancellations?

Cruise ship with crowded decks and pool on gray day. Photo©CarolKent

Cruise ship bookings are off 10-15% according to The New York Times since the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo©Carol Kent

Firstly, as yacht charter brokers, we always prescribe preparedness and travel insurance to protect your investment. That said, regular travel insurance doesn’t generally cover epidemics – but travelers have options. More about that in a moment.

Q:  How safe is a private yacht charter in terms of contact with the coronavirus?

A:  Private yacht charters allow a great degree of control of your movement, your food and drink, and the people with whom you come in contact.

The Wall Street Journal offers some good information to consider before making, canceling or postponing travel plans.

Sunrise yoga on the deck of the sailing yacht ORION

Control your environment: Yacht charter brokers work with clients and crews to arrange customized itineraries and services.

Q: Where can I go and still minimize the risk of contact with coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A:  Many destinations are still able to welcome travelers with these clear caveats:

Wash and sanitize hands frequently; limit the number of surfaces you touch; avoid shaking hands, hugging, kissing and touching your face; avoid outwardly ill people.

And, if you don’t feel well, STAY HOME.

Read more at Fodor’s Travel about coronavirus and travel here.

Q: What kind of travel insurance should I buy?

A: The only travel insurance that covers cancellations for any reason – including epidemics – is Cancel for Any Reason insurance (CFAR). They cost more than other policies and reimburse a percentage of non-refundable costs, depending on company policy.

Full disclosure: I am an affiliate of TravelGuard Insurance from AIG so I’ll use them as an example.

TravelGuard offers Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policies which will reimburse the insured for up to 50% of the cost of their trip.

Insurance policies are changing during these uncertain times so be sure that you’re reading the most recent version of any policy. You can CLICK HERE to read a policy update from AIG TravelGuard Insurance from March 6, 2020.

Insurance Must-Knows

Purchase insurance when you book your yacht charter and other travel. You cannot add it on later.

Always read the fine print on any insurance policy.

Know that U.S. policies are state-specific: they differ depending on the state in which you reside.

To get an idea of the coverage that TravelGuard offers, click here.

Assessing Risk

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other health watch organizations around the world are broadcasting the fallout from the coronavirus. Once travelers have information in hand, they have to assess how much risk they can tolerate while traveling.

Insure your yacht vacation to assure smooth sailing. Travel insurance coverage can save you time, money and worry when the unexpected happens.

Many articles have been written in Sunday Travel sections throughout world trumpeting the same message as in this article: “When in Doubt, Insure“, written by David A. Kelly for the Practical Traveler in the New York Sunday Times.

You are investing a good amount of money to create a memorable holiday. Why not protect it for a small percentage of the cost with travel insurance?

 1. Cancellation: due to bad weather, illness, job loss…

2. Coverage for pre-existing conditions: taken within 14 days of your first charter deposit.

3. Unexpected emergency: illness or death in the family.

4. Lost luggage or delay: forced to purchase essentials.

5. Illness or injury: events that personal health care insurance may not cover, especially abroad…

6. Emergency medical evacuation: due to accident or illness…

7. Flight delays and airline strikes: cover missing the boat…

8. Weather delays: hurricane, storms, volcano ash clouds…

9. Lost your passport: stranded abroad…

10. Damage to property:  rental car damage…

 Be sensible.

Thanks to today’s weather-tracking technology, odds are slim that you’ll be caught in a hurricane. That said, we recommend that you avoid making a hurricane-prone destination a critical piece of your adventure, e.g. a destination wedding in August in Key West, Florida.

Hurricane season is technically June 1-November 30. The busiest part of hurricane season varies from region to region. In the Eastern Caribbean and along the U.S. East Coast, the season is usually busiest from mid-August to mid-September. In the Western Caribbean, hurricanes pick up from mid-September into early November.

Be reassured.

Your Captain and crew are always concerned about your safety first and the yacht investment second.  We are always in communication with you and your crew to determine the best outcome for a successful yacht charter vacation.

Like Boy and Girl Scouts, be optimistic and be prepared.

Great yacht charter deals are often worth the risk especially when you protect your trip with travel insurance. You may purchase travel insurance up until the day before you travel.

I like Travel Guard trip insurance because they are thorough and thoughtful in their coverage of yacht charter cancellations for named hurricanes.

Here’s an example of a notice that Travel Guard issued:

“ COVERAGE INFORMATION:

 Please note that Tropical Storm Dorian became a named hurricane on Wednesday, August 28, 2019. For coverage to apply, the policy must have been purchased on or before Tuesday, August 27, 2019. Please encourage your clients to read their Insurance Policy to verify if coverage would apply for Natural Disaster or Hurricanes.”

Additionally, Carol Kent Yacht Charters International offers a Hurricane Addendum for our New England and Caribbean yacht charters so that our clients don’t lose their money when Mother Nature offers up unexpected plans and boats have to cancel trips.

Travelers opt for the Hurricane Addendum when they first book so they are able to “reschedule” within the year on a mutually agreed upon date. With this addendum signed by both charterer and owner, the protection kicks in only when it is a “named storm”.

Full disclosure: I receive a small referral fee when you purchase a Travel Guard policy since I am licensed in the state of Massachusetts to sell to US clients only.

Map and compass image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

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