Toilet rolls may be regarded as THE essential product during the Coronavirus mania, but for those who have booked a holiday or are keen to head overseas, travel insurance should be high up on your list.
However, when it comes to being covered for COVID-19, commonly know as Coronavirus, many people are inadequately insured.
According to CHOICE, only about half of insurers cover medical expenses resulting from a pandemic, but less than half cover cancellation expenses. In addition, if you buy travel insurance after coronavirus has been declared an edpidemic, you would not be covered.
Does Travel Insurance Cover Coronavirus?
Most (but not all) travel insurers would cover a Coronavirus epidemic or pandemic. However, the policy would have to have been purchased before this became a ‘known event’. Also, some insurers would only cover medical expenses but not cancellation costs as a result of a Coronavirus problem.
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Let’s have a quick look at these different terms:
Epidemic vs Pandemic
An epidemic is an outbreak of disease that occurs in a wide geographic location and affects many.
A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread more widely, across countries and continents.
You would need to read your insurers’ fine print to check whether they include or exclude cover for either or neither of these occurrences.
What is a ‘Known Event’?
Obviously insurance has been designed to protect us against risk and unknown. However, once an issue is widely ‘known’, most insurance will no longer cover that issue.
However when an event becomes ‘known’ is debatable. Generally, an event becomes ‘known’ when the government makes an official announcement or it is widely publicised in the media. Most insurers will have a date when they will cut off cover for that now-known event.
Will My Travel Insurance Cover COVID-19 Coronavirus?
CHOICE suggests that in general, if you haven’t purchased your policy by 31 January, you most likely would not be able to get travel insurance that would cover Coronavirus-related claims.
However, all is not lost and many people are turning to Covermore’s ‘Cancel-For-Any-Reason’ policy. This is more expensive than the average insurance policy and would cover 75% of your cancellation costs up to $10,000, should you need to cancel for any reason. However, the policy won’t cover Coronavirus-related medical expenses if you bought it after 31 January 2020.
There are some proviso’s including:
You have to buy the policy within 48 hours of paying for your flights and accommodation
Plus you have to cancel and enter a claim no sooner than 48 hours before you depart
This insurance is available as an add-on policy that can be bought via a travel agent or NRMA Insurance. But keep in mind that given this is now the only policy available to cover cancellation expenses as a result of COVD-19 coronavirus, it’s likely to be expensive.
You Still Need Travel Insurance
Even if you don’t get this insurance top-up, make sure you are protected by travel insurance so that you are covered for issues not related to Coronavirus.
Am I covered if I bought my travel insurance before the cut-off?
There is a chance that you would be covered for Coronavirus if you bought your policy before COVID-19 became a known event. However, you would need to double-check with your insurer.
Insurers that do cover an epidemic or pandemic mostly have a cut-off cover date for claims related to COVID-19 from around 21 January 2020 for travel to China and 31 January for worldwide travel.
CHOICE has put together a comprehensive list of insurers who cover epidemics and/or pandemics. Check out the list here.
What will I be covered for?
If your insurer does cover claims as a result of an epidemic or pandemic, you should be covered for medical expenses and cancellation costs, as long as this was stipulated in the fine print.
However, the cover may become null and void if you ignore ‘Do Not Travel’ warnings.
They Won’t Cover for Worry
You would normally need a legitimate reason to claim cancellation cost from your travel insurer. And unfortunately, worry about travelling is not regarded as a reasonable reason to cancel a trip.
If you are booking holidays, it’s a good idea to check cancellation and amendment policies for both your transport and accommodation so you know what you are in for, if you need to cancel or change your bookings.
Do you have travel insurance for your holiday? Are you still going on holiday? Tell us in the comments below.