Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a Pandemic, and is causing of great deal of unease within the community. Aside from the significant impact Coronavirus is predicted to have on our healthcare system, there are major implications when it comes to travel insurance – both for business & leisure.
Whitbread have received ongoing updates from various travel insurers regarding coverage and COVID-19. Outlined below is the most recent advice we have received from TravelCard, a leading corporate travel insurer. We will continue to provide updates as and when available.
The Australian Government has upgraded travel warnings worldwide and stated no Australian should travel overseas. Detailed information on what this means for travel insurance is outlined below.
Corporate Travel Insurance and Coronavirus
This information is likely to apply to most Corporate Travel Insurance policies. Please note, this is General Advice only. For advice specific to your travel policy, please speak to your Whitbread broker, or your travel insurer.
Current travel advice:
- If you or your employees are currently overseas, return home immediately
- Domestic travel booked from 19/3/2020 will likely not be covered for claims relating to COVID-19. Bookings already made should be covered (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording).
- All travel up to 30 June 2020 should be postponed or cancelled and costs should be covered if arranged prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Costs of returning home – curtailment cover:
Following DFAT’s upgraded travel warning, corporate travel policyholders and employees travelling overseas should return home immediately. The expense of this should be covered under ‘Curtailment’ (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording) provided that you:
- Did not choose to enter a country or region within a country after it was subject to a DFAT 4 warning
- Did not commence the trip after 3 March 2020, when COVID-19 could no longer be considered ‘unforeseen’
- Booked the trip prior to 4 March and did not travel to China, Japan, Iran and certain regions within South Korea and Italy.
It is advised that return travel should be booked before 23:59 on 22 March 2020 AEST, and to travel on the first available flight. Some travel insurance companies may be able to assist in organising these arrangements.
Medical expenses cover:
It is almost certain you will not be covered for medical expenses relating to COVID-19 for trips that commenced from 13 March 2020.
With DFAT’s updated travel advice, overseas travel is highly restricted, however it is important to be aware that you will not be covered for medical expenses relating to COVID-19 if you or your employees choose to travel overseas and ignore official warnings about the risks of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.
You should be covered for medical expenses if you are already overseas. If you are currently overseas and departed prior to 13 March 2020, cover for medical expenses should be provided (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording).
Cancelling travel arranged prior to the COVID-19 outbreak:
Loss of Deposits (cancellation) may be covered, depending on when travel was booked. Loss of Deposits is determined by whether the COVID-19 risk could be foreseen at the time of booking. Travel booking dates likely to be considered when assessing claims for Loss of Deposits are:
- Cancellation of travel booked before 30 January 2020 should be covered (except to Hubei province in China) – If you booked travel prior to 30 January (except to Hubei Province in China which was subject to a DFAT 4 travel warning from 24 January), and your travel arrangements have been directly affected due to circumstances beyond your control as a result of COVID-19 then cover should be provided for loss of deposits (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording).
- Cancellation of travel booked between 31 January 2020 and 3 March 2020 may be covered (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording) – Cover depends on the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country being visited at the time of booking and whether it can be considered unforeseen. Each claim will be considered based on the individual circumstances. Examples of key countries where the risk of COVID-19 may not be considered unforeseen for all or part of this period include;
- South Korea
- Certain regions in Italy
- Cancellation of travel booked from 4 March 2020 is unlikely to be covered – From 4 March there is no cover for loss of deposits due to COVID-19 as it could no longer be considered an unforeseen event after that date (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording).
Claims for Loss of Deposits (cancellation) in relation to COVID-19:
It is important to contact your travel provider first as it is a requirement that you take steps to minimise losses under most Corporate Travel Insurance policy wordings. Many travel providers are allowing travel arrangements to be postponed or cancelled without penalty and it is important to contact them as soon as possible to minimise non-refundable costs.
For example, Qantas and Jetstar have stated that travel credit is available until 31 March for travel booked up to 31 May 2020. Please visit the airline websites directly for accurate and up-to-date information.
Leisure Travel Insurance and Coronavirus
Leisure Travel Insurance policies generally contain an exclusion relating to Epidemic and Pandemics. This means no claims will be payable. We advise you to contact your insurance broker or insurer for further advice, and reconsider all travel, as per the latest update from DFAT – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/.
The global situation is changing rapidly.
- Speak to your insurance broker for advice specific to your insurance program.
Manage the risk of Coronavirus
The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends the following:
- Cancel or delay any travel to affected areas until such time the crisis is over.
- Practice good personal hygiene by regularly and thoroughly cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Avoid contact with anyone with a suspected case of Coronavirus
- Maintain social distancing – keep at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth – hands touch many surfaces. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can make you sick.
- Practice respiratory hygiene – make sure you, and those around you cover mouths and noses with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
- Stay home if you’re unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Should you have any questions regarding your travel insurance policy coverage, please contact your specialist Whitbread broker.
T: 1300 424 627
World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
This insight article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of personal advice. Please contact Whitbread Associates Pty Ltd ABN 69 005 490 228 Licence Number: 229092 trading as Whitbread Insurance Brokers for further information or refer to our website.