While some underwriters have adapted their travel products to include coverage for COVID-19 in their wording or via endorsement to meet the changing needs of travellers, brokers must be aware that many have not.
The following are ﬁve key factors to consider when purchasing a travel insurance policy:
- Does the policy provide overseas medical expenses to protect a traveller if they were to contract COVID-19 while travelling in a foreign country?
Given the high medical costs in some countries or the need for payment guarantees to hospitals, it is important that, should a traveller need to seek medical attention or be hospitalised overseas for COVID-19, the policy will respond.
There are countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, that now request all foreign nationals entering to have travel insurance for COVID-19 treatment, with a minimum coverage requirement. If this is a prereq-uisite for a visa or a pre-entry requirement, then ask your underwriter if a certificate of currency can be provided highlighting medical costs in relation to COVID-19.
- Does the policy provide loss of deposits costs if a traveller contracts COVID-19 prior to commencing a journey?
It is important to check if there are any cover requirements under the policy. For example, a traveller might need to have any diagnosis certiﬁed by a medical practitioner and for the diagnosis to be made after the policy is purchased and the trip booked and also within a 14-day period preceding the prebooked commencement of the trip.
- Does the policy provide cancellation/curtailment costs if a traveller contracts COVID-19 and is ordered into mandatory quarantine by the government or public health authority?
It is important to check whether cover will be provided for both domestic and over-seas travel. The policy might even extend to providing a daily self-isolation payment.
However, this could be limited to overseas travel only.
Note that any mandatory self-isolation or quarantine requirements for entering or travelling through any area, border, region or country might not be covered. For example, if a traveller needs to undertake seven days’ isolation as a pre-entry requirement to a certain country, this might not be covered.
- Does the policy provide cancellation/curtailment costs if a traveller contracts COVID-19 and is hospitalised in a foreign country?
If a traveller is hospitalised for COVID-19 and must alter their travel plans, it is importtant to know if the policy will respond any differently to being hospitalised due to any other sickness.
- Does the policy provide COVID-19 cover for business and leisure travel?
Questions may arise around whether there is any difference in COVID-19 policy response and level of cover when it comes to, for example, an employee going on a business trip or a director taking a leisure trip.
It is important to note that any refunds or credits that a traveller is eligible to receive might be deducted from the amount payable for a claim, and they would need to take this into consideration when booking a trip. A traveller should also always check that it is safe to travel to a destination, as COVID-19 coverage and the policy response could depend on the type of alert level the country has.
Information on safe travel is available at www.smartraveller.gov.au.
As the world continues to open up, the team at Solution and I look forward to businesses reconnecting safely and conﬁdently.
Clinton Hall is the national team leader and senior accident and health underwriter at Solution Underwriting Agency. As a Kiwi living in Melbourne, he’s more excited than most about international travel recommencing.