From the nationwide devastation caused by the Australian bushfire emergency to a global state of panic struck by the current coronavirus outbreak, 2020 is off to a very grim start.
But with the future of coronavirus still so unclear, many questions are being left unanswered. Like for example, what exactly does this pandemic disease mean for your travel plans?
What is the coronavirus (COVID-19 virus)?
The COVID-19 virus (a.k.a “coronavirus”) is a new strain of coronavirus that has previously never been found in humans until late last year when it was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
The flu-like disease forced China into lockdown in January 2020 but has since spread globally and was declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organisation.
Keeping up with the Coronavirus:
More and more Coronavirus cases are popping up around the globe by the minute, however, the severity of the disease is still yet to be discovered. Which means it’s super important to stay diligent and keep on top of Coronavirus updates.
Here are some resources for health advice and updates surrounding the illness:
- NSW Health: NSW Health - Novel coronavirus
- National Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
- World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
- Smart Traveller: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/news-and-updates/coronavirus-covid-19
How does the Coronavirus impact my travel plans?
With Aussies anxiously stocking up on supplies, trying to get your hands on a roll of toilet paper in this current state of Coronavirus-induced panic is about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. So, it’s safe to say that this disease is having a domino effect on a global scale.
In relation to how this could potentially impact any upcoming travel plans you might have, there have already been numerous government travel warnings, so in the midst of this pandemic despair, it would be wise to reconsider travelling overseas at this time if possible.
In fact, many countries have actually closed their borders to travellers at this time, so you should check the Smart Traveller government website to see if you can enter your travel destination.
Does my travel insurance policy cover the Coronavirus?
Unfortunately, this one’s a bit of a grey area. Depending on where you’re travelling to and who you’re insured with, your travel insurance policy may or may not provide cover in relation to the Coronavirus.
The main things to look out for within your travel insurance policy are medical cover and cancellation cover. Some insurers will provide cover if you booked your trip proper to January 2020, however many just flat out won’t cover you in the case of epidemics or pandemics.
Just keep in mind that every provider is different, so if you’re unsure then you’re best off getting in touch with your insurer or reading the PDS for clarification on what is and isn’t covered.
You should also be aware that many travel insurers won’t provide cover if you’ve breached quarantine regulations or have ignored government travel warnings.
Which travel insurers cover the Coronavirus?
Be aware that not all travel insurance providers offer cover for Coronavirus-related claims, however, there are a few insurers that offer limited coverage, such as Insure4Less Travel Insurance (correct at date of writing).
Insure4Less Travel Insurance:
The PDS states that Insure4Less will not cover ‘Cancellation fees, lost deposits and curtailment’, ‘Travel Delay and Abandonment of Trip’, ‘Hospital Cash Allowance’ or ‘Catastrophe Cover’ due to “an Epidemic, Pandemic or outbreak of an infectious disease or any derivative or mutation of such viruses (or arising directly or indirectly from these) or the threat, or perceived threat, of any of these.”
However, on the 7 March 2020, Insure4Less released a press release stating that they may provide coverage for medical expenses in relation to the coronavirus:
“If you incur medical expenses with associated additional expenses as a result of contracting the Coronavirus, there may be cover up to the benefit limit provided.”
1Cover Travel Insurance:
But as we said, many travel insurance providers will not provide cover at all, like 1Cover for example.
On February 24th 2020, 1Cover Travel Insurance issued a press release addressing the Coronavirus outbreak. The following statement was included in the release:
“Our policies contain exclusions relating to an epidemic or pandemic and also known events in the mass media. Therefore, regardless of when you purchased your policy and the destination: It is unlikely that any claim will be covered if it relates to the Coronavirus;”
Check the PDS:
Ultimately, to determine whether your travel insurer will provide cover for Coronavirus-related claims, you’ll need to carefully read the PDS to check for relevant clauses.
Here are some things to look out for in the PDS:
- General exclusions: Check under the general exclusions for any mention of pandemics.
- Known events exclusions: Many travel insurers will have a ‘known events exclusions’ policy which can mean that claims in relation to big events that are being widely reported about in the media and are thus, considered to be general knowledge (like Coronavirus, for example) won’t be covered.
- Government warnings: Check the PDS for any clauses surrounding government warnings made about specific travel destinations. Many travel insurers won’t provide cover for claims if a government travel warning has been made about your specific travel destination and you knowingly went anyway.
Keep an eye out for any updates or press releases made by your travel insurance provider. For more information, you may also wish to contact your insurer directly or your insurer’s underwriter.
For more information, make sure you check out travel insurance hub, where you can find loads of useful travel guides, the latest travel news and tonnes of other great resources.