Will my travel insurance cover cancellations or medical expenses resulting from Covid-19? 6 frequently asked questions answered.
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As travel restrictions ease and vacations spots begin to open back up, many people are rightly asking questions about what their insurance will cover if they decide to travel abroad.
Below are answers to common questions about how the Covid-19 outbreak might affect your travel insurance coverage. Please refer to your individual policy wording for full terms and conditions before submitting claims or rushing to book (or cancel) your trip! The following are for reference only.
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1. Can I claim medical expenses if I am diagnosed with Coronavirus?
The World Health Organization has stated that Covid-19 is a public health emergency of international concern. What this means for you is that any claims arising as a result of the virus are considered to be a “known event“. If you are diagnosed with contracting Covid-19 while travelling abroad, you will likely only be covered for medical expenses if you have taken up pandemic travel insurance, or made travel arrangements prior to Jan 31, 2020. Otherwise, standard travel insurance will not cover you.
Note: All medical expenses arising due to non-Covid-19 related events should be covered as per the standard policy coverage.
2. Can I submit a Trip Cancellation claim due to the Coronavirus?
According to the terms and conditions of most policies, Trip Cancellation does not cover expenses resulting from Coronavirus, unless: 1) the insured individual is suffering from the Coronavirus and hospital confinement is required, or 2) the insured individual is under a quarantine order. Provided the policy was taken up, or the travel arrangements were made, prior to Jan 31, 2020 for any world-wide travel, any irrecoverable losses of transport or accommodation should be reimbursed. An exception to this is if you have a “cancel for any reason” policy. The claimant typically does not need to indicate a reason for the trip cancellation. Such policies are more expensive though and typically require ~48 hours notice.
Note: All cancellations due to non-Covid-19 related events should be covered as per the standard policy coverage.
3. Can I claim a Travel Delay if my flight / train is delayed?
Typically no. Travel Delay does not cover expenses resulting from the Novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Note: Travel-delays that arise due to non-Covid-19 related events should be covered as per the standard policy coverage.
4. Can I claim Trip Cancellation if travel to the destination country is banned?
Unfortunately, according to most policies’ terms and conditions, Trip Cancellation does not cover expenses resulting from travelers being banned from entering other countries. Please check your local government’s travel advisory list before booking any travel.
5. What to do if I have no travel insurance?
If you have already booked a trip to a country that is severely affected by the Coronavirus and you don’t have travel insurance, don’t give up just yet. Try the following:
- Contact the hotel. Some hotels have been lifting their restrictions during the outbreak and allowing for partial or full refunds. You may also be able to postpone your stay until a later date.
- Contact the airline. More airlines are now offering to waive fees to adjust your travel itinerary in order to help boost their bookings. You may be able to postpone your flight or re-route to an unaffected area.
6. If I need to travel during the outbreak, what insurance should I get?
Without a doubt, you’ll want extended or pandemic travel insurance. The great news is that some airlines are now offering flights and vacation packages that include free covid-19 travel insurance coverage. You’ll want to carefully read the fine print to understand exactly what the terms are and if there are any exclusions, but that should offer a lot of skeptical travelers a bit of peace of mind.
However, if you must travel abroad and your carrier does not offer included Covid-19 insurance, consider purchasing extended travel insurance that covers epidemic and pandemic situations. The coverage should include:
- Cancel for any reason (these are typically more expensive policies)
- $50,000+ emergency medical expenses coverage
- $250,000+ emergency evacuation expenses coverage
- Trip interruption
And please, take precautions when travelling!
Your own health and safety matters. If you do begin to feel the symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19), don’t take any chances and seek medical attention immediately. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), common signs of infection include “respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death”. Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include wearing a face covering, regular hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
Here is an easy-to-use symptom checker if you’re unsure.
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