What is covered by travel insurance amid Covid-19?


  • Global
  • Wednesday, 02 Sep 2020

You’re unlikely to be covered if you’re visiting an affected region, unless you were already there at the time of the pandemic. — NORAFIFI EHSAN/The Star

The travel landscape is definitely going through a lot of uncertainties amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, when it comes to staying safe, travellers place much emphasis on financial as well as health safety.

Travel company Skyscanner believes this is where travel insurance steps in to provide some peace of mind for those who are travelling. But during this volatile period, there are many grey areas that need to be addressed.

Skyscanner senior director (Legal & Public and Regulatory Affairs) Martin Nolan said there are several variables to consider.

“If you took out your insurance after coronavirus became a known event, it’s unlikely to be covered. If you already had a policy in place, for example an annual policy, but you only booked your trip after coronavirus became a known event, it’s also not likely to be covered, ” he said.

Apart from that, if you still take a trip to an affected region, it’s likely your policy might be considered void.

According to Nolan, this is because you have travelled to an affected region, particularly if you need to make a claim that’s related to Covid-19.

It is vital to also monitor government advice, as some policies follow official government advice.

“If the government has not warned against travel to a destination but you decide to cancel anyway, this would be considered as a voluntary cancellation by you, and your insurer would be unlikely to cover it, ” said Nolan.

To help those who have to travel in these times, Skyscanner lists down some other points to consider when it comes to travel insurance during the pandemic.

Your existing policy should cover Covid-19 cancellations

If you bought a travel insurance policy before the coronavirus became a known event, you should be covered.

The relevant date varies according to insurer, but March 12 is a good rule of thumb, as that was the date the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a pandemic.

Generally, travel insurance will not cover cancellations for trips booked after Covid-19 became a known event unless they have explicitly covered this risk. If you took out the policy on or after March 12, it’s likely not covered.

Check with your insurance provider for most updated policy

Most insurance providers are sharing updates on how Covid-19 has impacted future travel plans. Therefore, check the official websites of insurance providers for policy changes or contact the provider for details.

It is important not to delay a claim because certain existing policies may now have stricter cut-off dates in which one can claim compensation for a cancelled trip.

If any terms have changed, the insurance provider should have contacted policyholders directly.

Travel insurance will not cover policyholders who are visiting an affected region

You’re unlikely to be covered if you’re visiting an affected region, unless you were already there at the time of the pandemic.

Therefore, check your policies and speak with your insurer before making any decisions.

It’s worth noting that any additional warnings or restrictions issued by governments usually operate as a trigger for insurance policies to let policyholders make a claim.

You may not be covered for Covid-19 if you buy travel insurance now

It is highly unlikely to get co-vered for the coronavirus if you buy your travel insurance now. Insurance providers are no longer offering coverage once Covid-19 became a known event.

Many governments are still advising against travel to certain destinations, and insurance providers are therefore taking the lead from these official travel advisories.

You can cancel your travel insurance policy

Policyholders who cannot travel because of travel restrictions, and who had previously bought travel insurance before the pandemic became a known event, should be able to cancel the policy.

Generally, travellers can cancel an insurance policy within 14 days of having taken the policy out.

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