Michigan Alumni Travel Guidelines Regarding the COVID-19 Virus
The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan and the Michigan Alumni Travel program are dedicated to giving our travelers safe and exciting experiences around the world — it’s our mission.
Unfortunately, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 presents travel challenges that can cause stress and frustration as news changes daily and questions remain unanswered. This is why our tour operators and the Alumni Association have been closely monitoring the situation, regardless of destination.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions we have been receiving. In addition, we urge you to obtain further information about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, or U.S. State Department. For current University information, check the U-M COVID-19 Information page, which includes leadership statements, frequently asked questions, and links to many U-M resources.
We hope these resources will provide further insight into future travel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whose decision is it to cancel a trip?
The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan is not the tour operator. The Association serves only as the sponsor of the travel program for its alumni and their family and friends. We have long-standing relationships with our tour operators, and they value our input; however, it is ultimately the tour operator’s decision whether to cancel a trip.
The tour operators use several sources to help guide their decisions:
- Travel advisory ratings established by the U.S. State Department
- Information from the World Health Organization
- Information from the Centers for Disease Control
- Information from ground operators in-country
What are my options if I booked a Michigan Alumni Travel program trip?
Concerns about travel to any destination are understandable. Based on these concerns, we asked our tour operators to consider implementing policies that would help protect travelers’ investments. Each operator has developed its own policies and should be contacted for specifics related to your trip.
If you have paid for your trip in full, you will now incur fees if you cancel. Should your trip still operate, options can be limited. Depending on the destination, some of our tour operators are offering travelers an opportunity to delay travel or choose another destination. Please contact the tour operator directly for any available options. This is consistent with alternatives being offered across the travel industry.
Can I expect a full refund?
Should a tour operator cancel a trip, you can expect a full refund. If a trip runs, normal cancellation policies and fees will apply and the options noted above may be offered.
Why am I being asked to complete travel in 2020? I see cruise lines have more lenient policies.
In some cases, cruise lines are offering more lenient policies than land operators for travelers rebooking a trip, often allowing travel through 2022. Here’s why:
- Cruise lines own their ships, employ the onboard staff, manage the food service chain, manage the amenities onboard the ship (e.g., restaurants, health and wellness facilities), and otherwise oversee the entire ship operation. As a result, they have fewer vendors and services that require payment before a trip departs. They can hold your money for an extended period of time and allow you to defer travel, in most cases until 2022.
- Land operators, on the other hand, have in-country vendors that require payment several months before your trip takes place. Ground operators, hotels, bus services, meals, tour directors, entry fees, and other services require payment in advance. In addition, some ground operators are placing restrictions on the length of time you may take to rebook your trip to help manage resources and the influx of changes taking place. The reduced time frame might not align with your desired time frame, but options are limited to help protect your investment.
If I decide to cancel, am I covered by travel insurance?
In short, standard travel insurance does not cover cancellations due to concerns about coronavirus before the trip takes place. Benefits apply only if you fall ill on a trip or are quarantined while on a trip. However, you can purchase a “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) waiver from our travel insurance partner — Alumni Travel Protection — as an addendum to the premium plan within 30 days of your deposit. Should you feel uncomfortable traveling, this waiver would help you recover up to 70% of your trip cost.
If I purchased an insurance policy through Trawick International for a trip that was postponed, can I transfer my policy to a new trip?
You are able to transfer your policy, but the new departure date must be within 18 months of the original trip departure date. In the cases of transfer dates, the original effective date will be kept. If you had Cancel For Any Reason or a pre-existing condition waiver in the past, that eligibility would move forward.
If I did not purchase an insurance policy on my previous trip but want one on my new trip, what date is considered my deposit date?
For re-booked trips that did not previously have travel protection, the new initial trip deposit date will be the date they book the new arrangements using the voucher. Any time-sensitive coverage (Cancel For Any Reason or pre-existing condition waiver) will track off that new initial trip deposit date.
Who will notify me or update me on this situation?
The tour operator will contact you directly with any updates regarding your trip. However, should you have questions related to your tour, contact the tour operator directly. (See their phone numbers below.)
When will I know if my trip is canceled?
There is no specific timeline. However, communications have been taking place approximately 6-8 weeks before the trip departs. Should a change in travel advisory status occur, the tour operator will contact you as soon as the change is known.
Whom should I contact if I have questions?
You should contact the tour operator at one of the following numbers: