Where travel insurance companies stand on coronavirus-related claims

Unfortunately many insurance companies won’t cover travellers for coronavirus related claims.

Where travel insurance companies stand on coronavirus-related claims

Australians who have booked holidays in the next few months are starting to worry that the spread of coronavirus may prevent them from travelling. But will they be covered by their insurance companies if they decide to cancel their trips?

The unfortunate fact is that many insurance companies won’t cover travellers for coronavirus related claims.

According to Travel Talk, there is ‘some variation’ to how insurance companies deal with epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks.

woman wearing a face mask

Popular insurance companies, AAMI, CGU and Southern Cross Travel Insurance will not pay for claims caused by epidemics, pandemics or any outbreak of infectious disease. However, other go-tos, CGU and HBF, will cover you if you bought insurance before any alerts were issued.

Budget Direct say it would cover cancellation costs “if customers were unable to travel because of restrictions placed upon them during or after an epidemic”.

Cover-More will cover “medical expenses under many of our travel insurance policies, if a customer travelling overseas contracts the coronavirus and is hospitalised”.

“However, even if medical cover is available to you for this event, there may not be cover for travellers’ cancellation or amendment of travel plans and other additional expenses as a result of the coronavirus epidemic,” the company added.

Travel Insurance Direct (TID) will cover anyone who purchased cover before 30 January but has cut off cover for anyone who purchased policies after that date.

“On 30 January, the World Health Organisation declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and described the situation as an ‘unprecedented outbreak’. In addition, person-to-person transmissions, before symptoms appear, are also occurring,” said TID in a statement.

“Our previous advice stated that where cover applied, we would no longer cover claims arising from any event related to coronavirus for travel to and/or from China from 23 January 2020. This cut-off of cover now also extends to travel to and/or from all other destinations.”

Many travel insurance policies may already contain exclusions relating to a contagious disease, epidemic or pandemic, or to a government prohibition or regulation, so travellers are advised to read policy wording for the full terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions.

“Whether or not you’re covered can come down to when you took out your policy and whether you travelled before or after a travel warning was issued,” said finance expert Effie Zahos.

“Always be sure to look up your destination on Smartraveller and make sure you are aware of any risks or safety advice.”

Most policies will also not cover you in the event of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT/Smartraveller) ‘do not travel’ or ‘reconsider travel’ advice.

On 30 January, the federal government increased its travel advice to all of China from “exercise normal safety precautions” to “reconsider your need to travel”, so many insurance policies will effectively be voided. Check your PDS for full details and speak to your insurer if you have any queries.

Have you purchased travel insurance recently for a future trip? Do you know if you’re still covered?

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    COMMENTS

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    JB
    8th Feb 2020
    8:06am
    I have bought a comprehensive policy with 1 Cover for travel to Thailand in 3 weeks time . Policy bought in December so before this happened . I am still waiting for a answer back if the trip has to be abandoned will we be covered . Let’s see how good this insurance company is !
    Anonymous
    8th Feb 2020
    3:12pm
    1 Cover does not cover you if you have anything wrong with you and don't declare it. With some other companies you are covered if your illness doesn't cause the claim even though you have not disclosed it. 1 Cover would not cover me for anything because I had had cancer.
    leek
    8th Feb 2020
    8:26am
    I am flying to Signapre on Monday to board a cruise ship on Thursday to go to Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. I spent ages a week ago argueing with my travel Insurer. I am not covered if I get sick, or somebody else does and upsets my plans(Diamond Princeess). I am not covered if I cancel because I am 'too scared" of what might happen. The cruise cost me a lot of money. If the cruise line cancels my cruise- great i get every cent back and they would probably give a future cruise credit. But if I cancel I do not get my money back from the cruise line or my travel Insurance. this has caused me great stress the last week or so. I am a healthy 61Yo. Highly unlikely Iwill get it, but concnerned about those around me etc. So I am dammed if i do go and dammed if i don't.
    Anonymous
    8th Feb 2020
    3:15pm
    You wont be able to get on the Diamond Princess next week as it's quarantined out at sea for next couple of weeks.
    leek
    8th Feb 2020
    3:42pm
    retiring well- I am cruising on Sapphire princess Thanks anyhow
    Worked hard to retire
    8th Feb 2020
    8:51pm
    Hello Leek . we are doing the same cruise in a few weeks , we are a little concerned , but hopefully it wont be cancelled and we still get to go , I think now that they have tightened up on the on board screening etc we should all feel fairly confident of being ok .
    It is unfortunate that these type of situations arise as for most of us these are once in a life time trips and they do cost a lot of money ,and hey that's exactly what insurance should be for . We took our insurance out in September 2019 with RAC so hopefully we are fully covered if trip cancelled .
    We were supposed to sale into Cambodia also but that has now been cancelled and we are over night in Thailand.
    Worked hard to retire
    8th Feb 2020
    8:51pm
    Hello Leek . we are doing the same cruise in a few weeks , we are a little concerned , but hopefully it wont be cancelled and we still get to go , I think now that they have tightened up on the on board screening etc we should all feel fairly confident of being ok .
    It is unfortunate that these type of situations arise as for most of us these are once in a life time trips and they do cost a lot of money ,and hey that's exactly what insurance should be for . We took our insurance out in September 2019 with RAC so hopefully we are fully covered if trip cancelled .
    We were supposed to sale into Cambodia also but that has now been cancelled and we are over night in Thailand.
    jan
    8th Feb 2020
    12:26pm
    I was told by ANZ platinum visa card insurance I am not covered for cancellation only if the government declares it's unsafe to travel. My cruises said I was not covered for cancellation unless the trip was cancelled by dream cruises and to wait before cancelling. We will loose 6000.00 but your life is priceless. We are meant to leave for our trip 1st March 2020 but we are staying foot. I have small airway disease and asthma and subceptable to any viruses.
    leek
    8th Feb 2020
    1:58pm
    Jan, I don't have health issues, although I have some gallstones, and the usual hearing loss and a dicky knee that is due to getting older. But my respitory tract is fine. but I can get the common cold from air flights, and that is more of a concern for me at this stage.

    I am in a mini lockdown atm so I don't go near anybody until I fly on Monday. Then I need to be well for the few nights in Singapore and not get a cold before boarding the ship on Thursday. yep my cruise is $4580, not including flights, which were not too expensive. I used my rewards for 1 flight and the flight back on Qantas was quite cheap.
    So my big loss is the cruise if i do not make it onto the ship. of course if the cruise line cancel, then that is okay. but no signs of that as the ship is currently in Vietnam and has not been anywhere near Hong Kong, china etc.
    JB
    8th Feb 2020
    3:28pm
    Yes unfortunately this coronavirus is not covered by majority of travel insurance companies. Just hope I don’t get a simple cold before heading off ! My flights may be covered if they cancel the flight . Hopefully things will settle down
    very soon . Unfortunately media have us all dead and buried !
    Russell
    9th Feb 2020
    4:24pm
    To those who are travelling to Thailand be sure to wear a face mask as the Health Minister in Thailand has made it quite clear on the Thai media that any foreigner who will not wear a face mask is not welcome in Thailand. This came about when a foreign tourist arrived and the minister handed the foreigner a mask and the foreigner refused to take it and the minister went into a rant on Thai media about "farangs" who do not wear a face mask are to leave Thailand. The mistake that the minister made was that he opened the packet and removed the bare mask with his bare hand and handed it to the tourist who rightfully refused it. The minister should have handed the tourist the close packet and not used his bare hands as according to all the experts including the World Health Organisation that the bare hands is the biggest distributor of the coronavirus. Be aware that many Thais do not use masks or clean their hands with the 70% alcohol hand wash.
    Russell
    9th Feb 2020
    4:35pm
    Advise to all those who are going to travel, especially to Asia, buy yourself 70% alcohol hand wash/gel/wipes to clean your hands and any surface that you think might be contaminated as this is the biggest transmitter of this coronavirus plus buy good quality KN95 face masks as Asians are very reluctant to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze
    LucyB
    20th Feb 2020
    9:55am
    A friend of mine works at Compare Travel Insurance, so I've been given the run down. https://www.comparetravelinsurance.com.au/mediaroom/coronavirus-epidemic-outbreak-travel

    Basically you need to check your policy wording for whether or not there is a general exclusion for threat of infectious disease, epidemics and pandemics. If so, you are unlikely to be covered.

    If not, there is likely to be an exclusion for anything in the mass media, or anything that you were aware of at the time of purchasing your policy. So this is where the cut-off dates and time of purchase matter.

    Some travel insurers are saying it became a known event 21 January when news of coronavirus being a 'super-spreader' was making international headlines. Some travel insurers are saying that when WHO declared it a a global health emergency of international concern on 31 January is when it became a known event globally. So if your cruise is cancelled, purchase cut-off dates are ranging from 21 Jan to 31 Jan.
    leek
    20th Feb 2020
    10:22am
    Thanks. The very first lesson I learnt for the future is to go over the PDS with a fine tooth comb before buying. I have an annual policy this year. But next year
    will most likely be different as I am doing a 45 day cruise, and is not covered in most annual insurance policies due to the lenght of time.
    Yep my cruise was cancelled after I flew to Signapore for 3 nights. was cancelled at 4:30pm in the afternoon before i was due to cruise the next day.
    Got all of my cruise refunded and shore tours plus a 100% Future cruise credit. I had to pay extra to change my flight to return home the next day. I have placed a claim in for that with the cruise line.
    Still I would not have flown all the way to Singapore for 3 nights and come home again. That is where I lost out. Also lost out on having 3 weeks annual leave. not too bad for me as I am casual, but I feel terrible for the people that only have 1 big holiday a year, they are still on their holiays etc. I am doing a short 4 night cruise next week. But nothing like the 17 night cruise i was meant to be on.


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