Ready For a Vacation? Don’t Bank on Travel Insurance

There are tentative signs that more Americans are itching to get on the road or an airplane again. Hoping to reconnect with family or friends, or just enjoy a change of scenery, about 22% of respondents in a poll last month said they expect to travel for leisure this summer, and an additional 25% said they're considering traveling in the fall.

But with the resurgence of vacation bookings comes trepidation. A recent survey of traveler sentiment from the luxury travel company Indagare shows that people are feeling hopeful, yet anxious.

So what's the best way for travelers to protect themselves financially when booking a vacation, given concerns about a second wave of the virus, widespread economic uncertainty and, for some, money already lost on trips planned earlier this year?

First off, forget about most standard travel insurance policies if the anticipated reason for canceling is coronavirus-related. They typically don't cover pandemics. Even for the most common covered reason of unforeseen illness, injury or death, each policy will have different definitions of what illness or injury is, who has to be sick to qualify and what kind of documentation is required.

Just one out of about two dozen insurance providers listed on aggregator Squaremouth offered coverage related to alerts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That may change, with more insurers eventually offering coverage for some of the impacts of future pandemics tied to CDC warnings or alerts, according to Squaremouth's Kasara Barto. Still, it's a long way off for those booking now or in the near future.

Also, skip the travel protection that pops up when buying airline tickets. It's generally even less comprehensive than standard travel insurance policies, while also being pricier.