March 6, 2020 / 10:33 PM / 3 months ago

N.Y. travel insurance to cover coronavirus in 'cancel for any reason' policies, Gov. Cuomo says

FILE PHOTO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers remarks at a news conference regarding the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York State in Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) - Travel insurers and travel agents will offer New York residents and businesses the ability to buy coverage that would allow them to cancel a trip for any reason, including those related to coronavirus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.

The move followed complaints by consumers to the state’s insurance regulator, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) that so-called “cancel for any reason” travel coverage was not available to them, Cuomo said.

Buyers must purchase the coverage, which is 40% to 60% more expensive than standard travel insurance, typically within several weeks of the initial trip payment and cancel the trip within two to three days of departure, the regulator said.

Standard travel insurance typically excludes epidemics and pandemics, the regulator said, making it unlikely that travelers who buy the lesser coverage would be able to recoup coronavirus-related expenses.

“Cancel for any reason” is technically not insurance under New York law because the coverage is not triggered by a certain type of event, NYDFS said in guidance to insurers on Friday.

However, insurers can comply with New York law by showing that the benefits are related to the kinds of business that they are authorized to offer in the state, the regulator said.

Six insurers have agreed to offer “cancel for any reason” policies, including: Allianz, (ALVG.DE) Nationwide, Starr Indemnity, Berkshire, (BRKa.N) Crum & Forster, and Zurich (ZURN.S), Cuomo said.

Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Chris Reese and Diane Craft

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