Standard travel insurance could cover trip cancellations for legitimate reasons such as illness, injury, death in the family, natural disasters or other major events that hamper travel.
"If you break your leg, you're covered. If your mother passes, you're covered. If a hurricane cancels flights to your destination for 24 hours or makes your home or destination uninhabitable, you're covered," explained Allianz Global Assistance spokesman Daniel Durazo.
Policyholders of standard travel insurance, however, will find that their policies will not cover for trips cancelled out of more generalized fears, such as the fear of contracting an illness.
"You would unfortunately be out of luck if you want to cancel due to fear of Zika," commented Rachael Taft of SquareMouth.com, a website that compares travel insurance policies.
Travel insurance agents and brokers might want to steer their clients worried about Zika toward comprehensive insurance packages. These types of policies allow policyholders to cancel their trip for any reason. Although the policies will cover for costs regardless of the reason the trip was cancelled for, they have their drawbacks.
The San Diego Union-Tribune noted that such policies are generally more expensive than standard travel insurance policies—as much as 20% more than standard travel policies. Also, while standard insurance can be purchased up to the day before departure, “cancel-for-any-reason” travel insurance needs to be bought well in advance. Moreover, comprehensive travel insurance typically only covers a portion of the cancelled trip’s costs—up to 75% only in some cases.