You are booked to travel to China, but the coronavirus has scared you and you want to cancel. “I have insurance,” you say to yourself. “No problem.”

Not so fast.

Even if you have travel insurance, you may not be covered.

The standard wisdom about travel insurance: It covers what has happened to you, not what might happen to you.

Here is a Q&A on some of what’s covered and not, it in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China that started in December and grows by the day. The World Health Organization last week declared it a public health emergency of international concern. And the U.S. Department of State has raised the threat level to 4 for China: Do not travel.

"Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice," the newest warning says. "Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China."

Travelers who had booked trips or are considering them must now face difficult questions, partly because their health and safety could be at risk and partly because their investment in a vacation may be threatened.

Here’s what we know so far:

Question: Are such outbreaks as coronavirus covered by regular travel policies?

Answer: Doubtful. “Unfortunately, there is limited cancellation coverage [for coronavirus] under most standard travel insurance policies,” Kasara Barto of, a travel insurance comparison site, said in an email. “Virus outbreaks do not fall under the standard cancellation reasons on most travel insurance.”

Q: But didn’t the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell travelers that they should "avoid non-essential travel" to China?

A: Yes, but in terms of insurance, Squaremouth noted, travelers "are not prevented from" going.

Q: Doesn’t the State Department say you should not travel to China, especially Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak?

A: The State Department has raised its threat warning, saying you should not travel to China. Previously the threat level was a 3, which means "reconsider," except for Wuhan, which was a 4 (Do not travel.).

Q: The World Health Organization said that the outbreak is an international health emergency. Does that change the dynamics of insurance coverage?

A: No, insurance experts say, because now a coronavirus is not unexpected. The risk is there and not a surprise.

Q: But what if everything I wanted to see is closed?

A: Even if big attractions are closed and visiting them was to have been a big part of your trip, you still aren’t covered.

"While the closure of portions of the Great Wall of China, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland may be an inconvenience to travelers, it isn’t enough to trigger cancellation benefits," Squaremouth said.

Q: What if my flight was canceled and I had nonrefundable prepaid plans, such as hotels or day trips? Do I get money back?

A: Maybe. Many airlines are cutting back or canceling service in the face of this outbreak. (Some airlines are refunding money; others are giving a credit or waiving change fees.) Regardless, canceled service means other prepaid plans would fall by the wayside. But there may be good news in this.

“Comprehensive travel insurance plans can cover prepaid, nonrefundable expenses such as hotels, tours, flights, etc.,” Meghan Walch, product manager for InsureMyTrip, which also lets you compare policies, said in an email. “When purchasing a policy, the total of those costs would need to be insured in order to receive reimbursement if canceling for a covered reason.”

Q: What if I have insurance and get sick with coronavirus?

A: The good news about coverage in that case is bad news for you: If you contract coronavirus before you travel or while you’re traveling, your care probably will be covered if you have standard travel insurance. The key word is probably.

Q: Why only probably?

A: Many insurers set a deadline — a date before which you might be covered but after which you won’t be.

The coronavirus is now a "foreseen circumstance" — that is, people know about it. The date when it became a foreseen circumstance can vary among insurance companies, so it’s important to know the "buy by" date that was or is being offered.

Q: Is there anything I can do to be covered for a trip I wanted to make but now am not sure about?

A: There is one kind of travel insurance that can help: cancel-for-any-reason, or CFAR, insurance. It means what it says: If you decide you don’t want to risk (fill in the blank for anything that you consider problematic) or you just don’t think the trip sounds fun anymore, if you have CFAR, it should have you covered.

However … Your reimbursement generally will not cover your total trip costs, and the initial premium probably will cost more — sometimes much more — than a standard travel insurance policy.

Q: Is there another option?

A: Not really. "If your concern is canceling your trip due to fear of traveling and potentially contracting the coronavirus, then ... CFAR is the only way to protect your prepaid, non-refundable trip cost," Walch of InsureMyTrip said.

Q: What are my chances of being infected with coronavirus?

A: That depends on where you are. "I would say there’s always a risk of developing an infection when you’re traveling internationally," said Dr. Robert Winters, an infectious disease specialist in Santa Monica, Calif. "I would avoid China, but I would not change my plans for any other part of the world."

But, Winters noted, the rapid increase in the number of cases reported suggests the potential for a pandemic. One of the issues, Winters said, is that someone may be asymptomatic but still able to transmit the disease.

Aside from basic recommendations for hygiene along the lines of washing your hands and not touching your face, Winters suggests packing a face mask, hand sanitizer, and disposable gloves.

Q: Does that face mask really help?

A: Its value may not be what you think it is. Surgical masks are porous and germs are tiny. The real value, said Dr. Robert Quigley, senior vice president and regional medical director of International SOS, a medical and security assistance company, is that you can’t touch your mouth and nose as easily, which means you might be less likely to ingest a germ.

Q: So what do the doctors say? Should I go on my trip?

A: No easy answers here. It’s a serious illness and a growing problem. Also, Quigley said, viruses can mutate. They may gather strength over time. And such diseases often put the young, the old, and the immunocompromised at greater risk.

Only you can decide on the risk level. Gather information about the disease and think carefully about your choices. You may not catch coronavirus, but you could be caught in a quarantine. (The good news is that if you have trip interruption insurance, that could mean your delay is covered.)