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Cancel for Any Reason Insurance, Explained

You’ve probably seen lots of stories lately suggesting that you buy “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) travel insurance. This suggestion is based on the fact that conventional trip-cancellation insurance is “named peril” insurance. Meaning: Reimbursement is contingent on a specific exigency named in the policy: If it isn’t named, you aren’t covered.

Focus on “any reason” insurance has assumed prominence recently because many conventional policies do not include an epidemic or fear of an epidemic as a “covered reason.” Often, however, recommendations to buy “any reason” insurance don’t provide details about how it actually works. Here’s what you need to know:

What Is Cancel For Any Reason Insurance?

Typically, the “any reason” coverage is in addition to the traditional coverage that is limited to “covered reasons” for cancellation enumerated in the policy.

Does CFAR Cost More?

Some insurers bundle it into some policies; others treat it as an add-on option. Either way, you pay more than you would for conventional coverage. On a sample trip that a middle-age couple might buy, with a total of $4500 in prepayments, for example, the base cost of the least expensive bundled policy was $220; with 75 percent cancel for any reason, the price increases to $370.

What Does CFAR Cover?

The most common form cover 50 to 75 percent nonrefundable prepayments. Coverage kicks in when the typical 100 percent recovery for cancellation due to a “covered reason” does not apply. It does not replace the traditional coverages: You still recover 100 percent for covered reasons.

To qualify for “any reason,” you must:

  • Insure the full value of all nonrefundable or at-risk payments
  • Buy the insurance within a set period, typically 15 to 21 days, of your original trip payment
  • Cancel no less than 48 hours before scheduled departure

Many policies include trip-interruption coverage along with cancellation. That means it covers unanticipated costs of rejoining a departure you missed or unexpectedly returning home early. Interruption coverage is subject to the same 48-hour time limit and 75 percent recovery.

Originally, insurance regulators in New York State ruled that the “any reason” option did not meet their definition of “insurance,” so insurers could not sell it to New York residents. Recently, however, under some prodding, the regulator decided to allow it, and several large insurers are now selling it in New York.

More from SmarterTravel:

Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.

By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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