Coronavirus

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new, or “novel” coronavirus, now called 2019-nCoV, had not previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Initial human infections of the novel type of coronaviruses were acquired from exposure to animals at a live animal market in Wuhan. On 20 January, Chinese authorities confirmed the novel coronavirus is spreading person-to-person, with medical workers in Wuhan confirmed to have contracted the disease from patients they had been treating. It remains unknown how easily the virus spreads from person-to-person.

Common symptoms include a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can cause pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.

Do you cover coronavirus cancellations? 

You’re covered if you purchased prior to 19 Jan 2020. If your travel insurance was purchased prior to 19 January, then yes, your travel insurance policy will cover cancellation claims related to Coronavirus, up to your plan’s limits*. This could include assisting you with flight cancellation costs, tour cancellation costs, and accommodation cancellations costs. We only cover cancellations if the destinations you are travelling to have been assigned a ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory warning by the Australian Government in their website https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/. We do not cover cancellation for change or mind or fear. 

You’re not covered if you purchased after 20 Jan 2020If you purchased travel insurance after 20 January 2020 you will not be covered for any cancellation claims related to coronavirus. This is due to the fact that as of 20 January, the virus outbreak was widely publicised, and health and travel authorities had advised that travellers take all necessary precautions. Customers purchasing travel insurance post 20 January do so in the knowledge that travel may be impacted by Coronavirus. 

*Cancellation cover is only available on Basic, Comprehensive and Domestic policies.

Can I cancel my trip if I or one of the travellers on the policy becomes ill with the Coronavirus before we leave Australia? 

You’re covered. Regardless of when you purchased your travel insurance policy, cancellation cover is available if you need to cancel due to the unforeseeable death or illness due to coronavirus of your relative, business associate or travelling companion who is resident in Australia and who is in Australia at the time the event occurs. Limits apply*. 

Alternatively we may cover the cost of rescheduling your trip prior to departure provided the cost of rescheduling does not exceed the cost of cancellation. This benefit can only be claimed once per policy per insured person. 

*Cancellation cover is only available on Basic, Comprehensive and Domestic policies.

What happens if I contract Coronavirus while I’m overseas?

You’re covered. If your travel insurance was purchased prior to 19 January and you have followed all advice from the government or any other official body and you become sick for any reason while you are away, including due to coronavirus, your medical treatment or hospitalisation is covered under our overseas medical and hospital benefit. This benefit is available on all plans. 

You’re not covered. If your travel insurance was purchased after 20 January and you become sick due to the coronavirus your medical treatment is not covered, nor are the costs for any changes to your travel plans due to becoming ill with this virus. This is due to the fact that as of 20 January, the virus outbreak was widely publicised, and health and travel authorities had advised that travellers take all necessary precautions. Customers purchasing travel insurance post 20 January do so in the knowledge that travel may be impacted by coronavirus. 

What happens if I need to be repatriated home due to the Coronavirus?

You’re covered. If your travel insurance was purchased prior to 19 January, and you have followed all advice from the government or any other official body and you need emergency transport back home to Australia, due to becoming ill with coronavirus, we can arrange and cover your journey home. This cover is available under our emergency medical transport & repatriation benefit, offered on Basic and Comprehensive plans only. 

You’re not covered. If your travel insurance was purchased after 20 January, and you need emergency transport back home to Australia, due to becoming ill with coronavirus, we cannot cover your journey home. This is due to the fact that as of 20 January, the virus outbreak was widely publicised, and health and travel authorities had advised that travellers take all necessary precautions. Customers purchasing travel insurance post 20 January do so in the knowledge that travel may be impacted by coronavirus.

What will happen if I get quarantined in a country for 14 days or I need to self-isolate and I have to miss flight and tours?

You’re covered. If your travel insurance was purchased prior to 19 January, and you need to cancel flights or bookings due to being quarantined, cancellation cover is available on Basic and Comprehensive plans. 

You’re not covered. If your travel insurance was purchased after 20 January, and you need to cancel flights or bookings due to being quarantined, cancellation cover is not available. This is due to the fact that as of 20 January, the virus outbreak was widely publicised, and health and travel authorities had advised that travellers take all necessary precautions. Customers purchasing travel insurance post 20 January do so in the knowledge that travel may be impacted by coronavirus.

I am transiting through Hong Kong. What happens if the country I am travelling to won’t allow inbound flights from Hong Kong?

If you are travelling via Hong Kong to another country there may be specific bans and procedures in place. The following countries have banned all flights from Hong Kong:

  • Italy suspended all flights from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan until 28 April 2020. 
  • The Philippines widened a travel ban previously imposed on visitors from Hubei province to include all of China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The Hong Kong Government has also stated that commercial services such as cross-border transport (including flights, trains, ferries and buses) within mainland China may be unavailable or limited. 

For all other countries please check with your travel provider and follow the advice of local authorities. 

If you are booking a trip today and including flights via China, HK or Macau you should not expect cover. Airlines might be selling fares transiting through HK today but there’s a real chance this will change in the coming weeks and airlines won’t be able to transit through these destinations and it wouldn’t be unexpected. If you’re booking a trip today for travel in the next 2 months you should be transiting through an alternate part of the world, i.e. UAE.

You’re covered. If your travel arrangements and your travel insurance was purchased prior to 19 January and a portion of your journey is impacted by travel bans related to coronavirus, cancellation cover is available on Basic and Comprehensive plans. 

You’re not covered. If your travel insurance was purchased after 20 January, and a portion of your journey is impacted by travel bans related to coronavirus, cancellation cover not available. This is due to the fact that as of 20 January, the virus outbreak was widely publicised, and health and travel authorities had advised that travellers take all necessary precautions. Customers purchasing travel insurance post 20 January do so in the knowledge that travel may be impacted by coronavirus.

What are some of the measures in place in some Airports to combat the spread of Coronavirus and how may these affect my travel?

  • You may undergo temperature screening at all border control points 
  • Passengers with fevers may not be allowed to board their flight
  • You may have to undergo further medical examination if you are suspected to be infected. You may be taken to an appropriate healthcare facility and kept in isolation.
  •  Some airports have a health questionnaire that travellers need to fill prior to check-in and arrival

Obtain credits, refunds and reschedule where possible

We highly recommend that you reach out to your travel agent, tour companies and scheduled transport companies to arrange a credit, refund or re-schedule your holiday until later in the year. A lot of providers are now working with travellers to make the process easier.

Latest Government Advisory - 13 March 2020

The Australian government decision on 13 March asking all Australian's to 'reconsider the need to travel' does not change the existing advice from our underwriting team given above. https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/crisis/covid-19-and-travel

If you still have questions about the coronavirus please contact our support team

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