Press Release

March 06, 2020

 

AT NOVEL CORONAVIRUS BRIEFING, GOVERNOR CUOMO CONFIRMS 11 ADDITIONAL CASES - BRINGING STATEWIDE TOTAL TO 44

New Cases Include 8 in Westchester County and 3 in Nassau County

Announces Travel Agents and Travel Insurers Will Offer 'Cancel for Any Reason' Travel Policies in New York State - Six Global and National Insurance Companies Agree to Offer Coverage to Travelers

NYS Interagency Task Force Continues to Coordinate with Local Governments and Healthcare Partners to Monitor and Respond to the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

During a briefing on the novel coronavirus, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today confirmed 11 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 44 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the new cases identified since this morning, eight are located in Westchester County and three are located in Nassau County.

Of the 44 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

  • Nassau County: 4
  • Rockland County: 2
  • New York City: 4
  • Westchester County: 34

Additionally, the Governor announced travel insurance companies and travel agents will offer New York residents and businesses the ability to purchase coverage when making travel plans that would allow them to cancel a trip for any reason, including for reasons related to COVID-19.

"I've said every day the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus will keep going up, and as we expand our testing capacity we will only see that number continue to rise," Governor Cuomo said. "We want to keep testing and finding more people who are testing positive because that's how you contain the outbreak - find the person who got infected, quarantine them and reduce the infection rate. At the same time we want New Yorkers to go about their daily lives including planning vacations and other travel, and this action will allow them to do that at a time when there is still uncertainty about the future geographic impact of coronavirus."

Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell said, "With this action, New York State is demonstrating that government can and must do its part to help people navigate through this everchanging situation so they can proceed with their daily lives and routines. We want to make sure that travelers and business owners are provided accurate information and a measure of relief as they make travel arrangements during this time."

'Cancel for Any Reason' Travel Policies in New York State

The Department of Financial Services issued guidance allowing travel agents and travel insurers to offer this type of coverage after DFS received consumer complaints that such polices were not available in New York State. This new action is designed to provide reassurance to New York businesses and residents who are seeking to make plans that may involve travel to locations that are not currently under travel advisories due to COVID-19. 

Six global and national insurance companies have agreed to offer "cancel for any reason" coverage to travelers, including: Allianz, Nationwide, Starr Indemnity, Berkshire, Crum & Forster, and Zurich.

Many standard travel insurance policies do not cover trip interruption or cancellation due to COVID-19 because such standard policies usually exclude coverage for an epidemic, pandemic, or similar public health event. As a result, in connection with the outbreak of COVID-19, there is an increased interest in the availability of "cancel for any reason" policies. Understandably, many travelers when booking trips want to retain the right to cancel the plans in the future depending on the potential spread and impact of COVID-19.  To date, "cancel for any reason" coverage has been unavailable in New York State.

DFS today issued a guidance letter to travel agents and travel insurers that clarifies and replaces guidance issued more than 10 years ago that had resulted in consumer complaints that "cancel for any reason" policies were not being offered in New York State. As a result, effective today, travel insurance and travel agents are advised they are able to sell such policies to New York residents and businesses. DFS' guidance notes that "cancel for any reason" policies are separate and distinct from standard travel insurance, and should not be sold together per New York State Insurance Law. 

"Cancel for any reason" coverage rates are substantially higher than standard travel insurance and normally only allow up to 75 percent of a refund of traveler expenses due to trip cancellation. 

DFS also directed New York State travel insurance issuers to proactively reach out to individuals and businesses who bought their policies to let them know what is covered.

The Governor urges New York residents and businesses to pay close attention to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Travel Health Notices, which caution Americans to avoid traveling to certain locations due to public health events and disease outbreaks. This is available here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

More information on New York State's response to COVID-19 is available here: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/.

New Yorkers with complaints or questions about "cancel for any reason" coverage should contact: www.dfs.ny.gov/complaint

Read a copy of the DFS Insurance Guidance Letter.

Earlier today, the Governor announced that a New York State interagency task force is continuing to coordinate with local governments and healthcare partners to monitor and respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Members of the task force include:

  • Linda Lacewell, Department of Financial Services, Superintendent
  • Dr. Howard Zucker, Department of Health, Commissioner
  • Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor
  • Beth Garvey, Special Counsel
  • Gareth Rhodes, Department of Financial Services, Deputy Superintendent
  • Simonida Subotic, Deputy Secretary for Economic Development
  • Kelly Cummings, Director of State Operations and Infrastructure
  • Michael Kopy, Director of Emergency Management
  • Patrick Murphy, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Commissioner
  • RoAnn Destito, Office of General Services, Commissioner
  • Pat Foye, MTA, Chairman & CEO
  • Rick Cotton, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Executive Director
  • Dan Fuller, Deputy Secretary for Education
  • Sandra Beattie, Division of Budget, Deputy Director

 

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