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Couple's Travel Insurance Doesn't Include Zika Virus Concerns

By Melissa Garcia

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – An expecting husband and wife who canceled their trip due to concerns over the Zika virus feel frustrated that their travel insurance is refusing to reimburse them.

Toby and Autumn Titone had planned on taking a 9-day family vacation to Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of an island just East of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.

They booked the trip in April, and found out in May that they were pregnant.

Sint Maarten had been hit by Zika, and was on the Center for Disease Control's list of countries restricted for travel by pregnant women.

Toby and Autumn Titone (credit: CBS)

The mosquito-borne virus causes severe birth defects in unborn babies.

The Titone's canceled their beach vacation, and thought they would receive reimbursement from their travel insurance company.

"The immediate thought was, 'No big deal.' I mean, we've purchased the travel insurance before for big trips, and figured we're covered if something goes wrong," said Toby.

But they were not covered.

They soon found out that the money they paid for airline tickets would be a loss.

The Titones received a denial letter from the travel insurance company stating that their decision to cancel the vacation due to Zika was not a reason covered under their policy.

"When I saw the part that said it's a choice, I was like, 'What? Are you kidding me? That this is not a medical concern?' It just really made me mad," said Autumn.

Travel industry experts say some people purchase travel insurance on their own without knowing exactly what it covers.

"Sometimes you just click that button that says add insurance, without really knowing what you're getting," said Wave Dreher, Spokesperson for AAA Colorado.

CBS4's Melissa Garcia interviews Wave Dreher, spokesperson for AAA Colorado (credit: CBS)

Dreher said that AAA agents can help travelers get the right insurance to fit their exact needs, and help explain the fine print.

Travel insurance comes in a wide range of coverage levels. The level a customer chooses can make a big difference.

She recommended that women who could become pregnant buy a plan that includes "normal pregnancy," which covers trip cancellation for any pregnancy-related reason.

Dreher said there were also full-coverage plans that allow travelers to cancel at any time for almost any reason.

The pregnancy and full coverage travel policies cost more than a basic policy.

Dreher said that the extra cost is worth the benefit.

"When you're looking to spend $5,000 (on a vacation), I'd rather spend a little bit more, and make sure I'm not going to lose that investment," said Dreher.

Many policies, even full-coverage ones, have various exclusions, including exclusions for epidemics.

Thus, Dreher said that if Zika becomes classified as an epidemic, it may not be covered at all.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to

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