LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — With the novel Coronavirus dominating news headlines around the world, it has led to canceled flights and fear of flying to certain areas.
“My mom called me she's like, I don't want to go. I'm too scared, and she's 65-years-old. She's a cancer survivor,” Jennifer Bodden said.
Bodden said she, her mom and her sister had been planning to fly to the Philippines to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday.
Bodden said she visits her grandmother every year, but this trip was extra special because Bodden was helping to plan the celebration nine decades in the making.
“We had a venue, we had catering, we had karaoke and DJ, you know, just had the whole shebang ready to go,” Bodden said.
Those plans changed when Bodden said warnings came out about the Coronavirus, and the number of people infected continued to climb.
Bodden’s travel plans would have had her switching Korean airplanes in South Korea, which the CDC listed as a Level 3 travel warning, telling people not to travel to these areas. China is also listed as a level 3 travel warning.
"They're now banning flights to [South] Korea, it’s the second largest outbreak outside of China. Now there's a crew member that was, you know, on Korean Air that's infected," Bodden said.
“I'm not really willing to risk my safety even though I really want to go on my trip, I really do. But I'm not willing to risk my safety for it,” Bodden said.
Bodden said the company she booked her trip through told it would be OK to cancel because she bought trip insurance. She said she was told she just needed to get a code to refund the cancellation fee once it became available.
Bodden said that didn’t happen, and now she’s not getting refunded even though she said she paid for the service that would prevent that from happening.
“I'm asking what's insurance for? I did everything right. I bought a refundable ticket. I got the insurance, and you know I did everything,” Bodden said.
Bodden said she submitted a claim, but it was denied a few days later.
“I was confused, so I called them and I said why is this denied, you know like, the coronavirus is unexpected its unforeseen,” Bodden said.
Bodden said she filed the claim with AIG, a travel insurance company.
WUSA9 reached out to the company but did not immediately hear back.
The company’s website addresses the Coronavirus in a special section on the website.
“Trip cancellation for concern or fear of travel associated with sickness, epidemic, or pandemic is not covered,” the website said. “However, you are encouraged to file a claim if you have to cancel. Please be specific about why you canceled, as SOME policies may provide coverage, depending on the exact reason for cancellation.”
The website said travelers with the insurance could be covered if they did catch the Coronavirus.
“If you contract Coronavirus while on a covered trip, you could be covered for Medical Expense and Trip Interruption/Curtailment benefits if there is a confirmed diagnosis, subject to the terms and conditions of your insurance policy,” the website said.
Bodden said all she wants is her $350 cancellation fee, as well as the insurance fee which she said was around $80.
"I just want to get it out there because it can't be only me. And what do I do?” Bodden said. “Is it even worth it? Because if I get a refundable ticket, and then I have to fight the airlines for the cancellation fee, why am I getting insurance? It doesn't make sense to me."