Not surprisingly, travel insurance companies have seen an uptick in calls inquiring about coverage for trips to the Dominican Republic.
"We're never happy to see those types of events happen in the world -- the disruption, the stuff that really affects people's lives," said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of insurance comparison site TravelInsurance.com. "Nevertheless, when those things do happen, we tend to see spikes in interest in travel insurance."
Sandberg said the number of policies sold for future travel to the Dominican Republic increased in June. As of the end of the month, TravelInsurance.com had tripled its volume of sales year over year on Dominican Republic trip insurance. The site's June volume was more than double the prior three months' average.
He said that increase comes from people who want to have protection in place if something happens while they're in the Dominican Republic.
April Travel Protection has also been getting a lot of inquiries about insurance on Dominican Republic trips, CEO Jason Schreier said. Unfortunately, most come from travelers who want to purchase insurance to then cancel their trip and file a claim, which isn't a permitted use of insurance.
The only kind of insurance that would enable fear-based cancellations is cancel-for-any-reason insurance, which is more expensive and has more restrictions, including that it must be purchased close to the initial booking date.
Schreier attributed the uptick in calls to better consumer awareness about travel insurance.
Daniel Durazo, Allianz's director of marketing and communications, said that while typical insurance policies won't cover fear-based cancellations, they can cover a number of things that would be useful to travelers headed to the Dominican Republic. As of a little over a week ago, Allianz had received about 300 claims related to Dominican Republic trips. While he didn't have details of what the claims were for, Durazo said travel insurance could provide coverage for things like medical issues, evacuation and repatriation of remains.
Durazo said trip-interruption coverage, for things like serious illnesses, is particularly relevant in the case of the Dominican Republic. If a traveler were to fall ill, he or she could be reimbursed for unused portions of the vacation (such as hotel nights or tours) as well as the extra cost of a last-minute ticket home.
"There's a real question of whether there's something serious going on in the Dominican Republic or whether the media is kind of fueling a panic down there," Durazo said. "I don't think anybody knows the answer to that question yet, but we do expect to receive both more calls and more claims from our customers who have questions or want to cancel trips."