Coronavirus and Travel Insurance

Mackenzie Ross Insurance broking & risk management

While Australia has been relatively protected from the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), many travellers have been disrupted due to travel restrictions, while others are reluctant to travel due to the increase risk that the disease poses.

Here we look at the cover available under two types of travel insurance.

Leisure Travel

These policies are designed to cover you for a particular trip. Some policies have a blanket exclusion for pandemics, while others provide cover where the travel warning issued by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reaches a certain level e.g. ‘Level 4 – Do Not Travel’.

If you elect not to travel due to a fear of the consequences, but the travel warning has not reached Level 4, then your insurer is unlikely to provide coverage for any lost fares, accommodation etc, nor are the travel providers.

Even if you do not have cover in place to cover a cancellation or postponement of the trip, we urge you to exercise caution and do not put yourself outside your comfort zone. Massive uninsured medical bills or being caught up in a quarantine situation, as we have seen happen to some travellers, may not be so easy to get over.

Corporate Travel

Unlike Leisure Travel, these policies are designed to cover all travel during the period of insurance.

A quality Corporate Travel insurance policy that was taken out or renewed before Coronavirus became a listed disease under the Biosecurity Act 2015 is likely to provide coverage for cancellation of trips to countries that are at Level 4 – Do Not Travel.

Again, a decision not to travel, where the travel warning level is not at the trigger level stated in your Corporate Travel policy, will not under normal circumstances activate the insurance coverage.

Now that Coronavirus has reached the listed disease level, most insurers are placing a specific exclusion for losses occasioned by or happening through Coronavirus. Coronavirus can no longer be considered as an “unforeseen circumstance”, and as such there will be no cover for any new travel bookings under an existing policy, or when purchasing a new policy.

More Information

The World Health Organization is closely monitoring the situation. If you’re considering travelling to or transiting through any destination with cases of COVID-19, we strongly recommend the following:

Before you travel

• Talk to your doctor before travelling with young children, babies or an elderly person; if you’re pregnant; if you have a weak immune system or have a chronic medical condition.

• Read the travel advice for your destination, and for the countries you need to transit through to get there, and get home. We are updating them regularly. There is a heightened risk of sustained community transmission in some countries.

• Read the Smart Traveller advice about infectious diseases and medical assistance overseas before you go.

• Check with your travel agent, airline, cruise operator, accommodation provider and travel insurance provider to consider your options regarding any potential changes in services.

• Understand the risks you’re taking and that efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 may cause further travel disruptions and restrictions.

While you’re away

To minimise your risk of exposure:

• practise good hygiene to protect against infections. Good hygiene includes:

– washing your hands often with soap and water

– using a tissue and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze

– avoiding close contact with others, particularly if they are unwell

• read more about protective measures against coronavirus on the World Health Organization website.

• monitor your health closely. If you develop symptoms (fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath), arrange to see a doctor for an urgent assessment

– you need to isolate yourself to prevent it spreading to other people

• follow the advice of local authorities

• you don’t need to wear a face mask if you’re well. Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who are infected with coronavirus from spreading it to others. However, if you are travelling in an affected country, you must follow the advice of local authorities.

If you have any questions about your Leisure or Corporate Travel policy, please contact your McKenzie Ross Account Manager today

Disclaimer

The advice in this paper is general in nature. While the utmost care has been taken in the preparation of this preliminary advice or opinion, you use it at your own risk. McKenzie Ross Insurance Brokers & LMI Group specifically disclaims any liability, whether based in contract, tort, negligence or otherwise, for any direct, indirect, incidental, punitive, consequential or other damage arising out of or in any way connected with the use of or reliance on the content of the preliminary advice or opinion.

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