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COVID-19 Travel Insurance

Edit: New Readers to the Topic Should Go Straight to the end, post 74 (as of 29/9/2021)

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is now classed as a known event by travel insurers. To our knowledge, you can no longer get cover for it, regardless of whether they cover pandemic or not. Read Does travel insurance cover COVID-19? | CHOICE for more details.

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thank you for that information. I see the cost of buying a refundable plane ticket is about 3 times more expensive than a standard economy fare. I think I will wait a few months and see if the pandemic status gets cancelled before committing to such a large expense.

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Hi Sue

I have moved your question to an existing thread which covers your question and questions about travel insurance with other sudden calamities in more detail.

Hopefully you don’t have to wait too long before the COVID-19 virus’ impact disappears.

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It may be worthwhile looking at tickets which you can for a fee change the date. For some travel that we know may need changes we occasionally look to strategies which provide the option to rebook. For most there are change fees, however the cost may be much less than a fully flexible option. There is also a risk of fare price differences depending on the new dates.

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Good point. Many consumers take ‘non-refundable’ as they are what they are. Even many non-refundables will allow flight changes for a fee and change of fare. eg the value of the ticket can be used for another booking, but cannot be refunded.

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Skyscanner has some useful general information on this point…

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Thank you for that suggestion and I will look at that option too

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An article regarding problems with travel insurance over coronavirus with input from Choice.

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Budget direct travel insurance - recommended by Choice - have just changed their policy T&C’s to include a new clause (29) in their GENERAL EXCLUSIONS section. from March 5 onwards.

READS:
29. Any claim directly or indirectly arising from an epidemic, pandemic or outbreak of an infectious disease, virus or condition, including any derivative or mutation of such disease, virus or condition, or the threat or perceived threat of any such epidemic, pandemic or outbreak.

This is similar wording to many others now and I think its ridiculously broad. Not only PANDEMIC and EPIDEMIC , but also any other infectious disease…etc…
As its a general exclusion I can’t see how any claim in any way related to any “infectious disease” is covered.

Would be good to hear from Choices experts on this?

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Thanks for pointing that out. We’ll take a look at it.

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Allianz Travel Insurance is a problem we phoned today and held on for 3 hours and gave up at 6.15pm. I emailed them last week and received a generic email from them today saying nothing other than have a good holiday and wash your hands. Help any suggestions. We would like to know if we are covered for Corona Virus if we get sick in Japan.
Also we have booked with Inspiring Vacations to travel to Japan on the 25th March and have concerns about becoming sick and not being able to get home. I have done some research and find medical services very expensive in Japan and if we are not covered by our Allianz Insurances this could break the bank. I have tried cancelling with Inspiring vacations but have come up against a brick wall "the tour is going ahead, unless the Aus Gov. changes the smart traveller rating.
Any ideas we have paid quite a lot for the 9 day tour plus comprehensive insurance.

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Hi @sarahhill, welcome to the community.

You are one of thousands who plan to travel, have rightly taken out travel insurance and wondering where you stand in relation to travel impacts resulting directly from the coronavirus outbreak.

Unfortunately travel insurance has limitations and exclusions, and often don’t cover pandemics or what are called known events.

Choice has prepared an article on coronavirus and travel insurance…

Allianz also has information on their website…

It appears from the website Allianz Travel Insurance doesn’t cover pandemics or known events…however, it appears they are willing to assist travellers planning to go to known quarantined areas in China, Korea and Italy.

There was also a recent media article indicating that for insurance purchased before or after 22 January 2020 which don’t cover pandemics/known event, if one is forced to quarantine oneself before re-entering Australia, the costs of quarantining will be borne by the traveller and not insurer.

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Welcome to the Community @sarahhill. I have moved your post to an already existing thread that covers much of what you are asking about. Hopefully even if our responses (@phb & mine) do not cover your needs the rest of the posts may help.

There will be no travel insurance cover as @phb has pointed out quite clearly above for you if you contract COVID-19 coronavirus. We are currently in NZ and we were made aware with our travel insurance which is underwritten by Allianz that COVID-19 was not covered.

Trying to cancel the trip because of COVID-19 requires that the Australian Govt has to declare that travel to Japan is banned before your Insurance for Travel cancellation will become effective.

You may try to find out if taking out medical insurance in Japan for your trip may be possible??

Or find an International Medical Insurance scheme that may cover you. An example may be found at the following link (this is not a recommendation it is purely used as an example) https://www.internationalinsurance.com/hcc/atlas/

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This might affect people with travel plans that include traversing from Europe to the US in the next 30 days:

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Jodi, I think we understand this is a tough time for travellers and insurers alike…but the intent or travel insurance is to minimise the risk for consumers that’s associated with unforeseen events. Consumers need comfort that this is what insurers are offering. Seems to me that the travel insurance sector is lacking in two recent topical areas :

  1. risks of travel agents and / or tour operators going insolvent
  2. the impact of travel due to ‘infectious diseases’

A few ideas I think we need to ensure greater industry integrity and reliability and also to rebuild consumer confidence are:

  • To protect deposits, progress and balance payments in the event a tour does not proceed or the agents businesses fail
  • Remove ripoffs insurance policies that are near impossible to claim on. We also need clarity and simplicity in PDS’s with simple covered and not covered check lists
  • We need claims management processes and oversight by independent arbitrators

Would Choice champion a lobbying of industry bodies and governments to address these sorts of issues.?

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Another wrinkle is that travel insurance is written for a specified period of time. If you bought your travel and insurance months ago and all of a sudden flights are grounded, borders are closed, and your holiday became a future dream, BUT the airline was gracious enough to rebook you 6 months in advance at no additional cost and everything else was refundable, rescheduled to suit, or could be cancelled, your out of pocket is going to be the cost of the policy itself.

If Australia remains closed to tourists in early May, and especially those not interested in a 15 hour flight to self isolate for 14 days while here for 13 days, I’ll have a live case study.

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That’s how insurance works, however the cost is proportionate to the risk, likelihood and consequence.

One might expect insurance is a low cost option, but there are many exceptions that are intended to keep the cost down by excluding certain risks. It’s much easier for an insurer to estimate how many customers might miss flight connections or fall ill on holiday than global epidemics outbreaks. The typical costs of the former can be found from history. Significant events such as the current Corona COVID-19 virus epidemic are not so easy.

For an extra premium there was the option of a cancel for any reason policy. However the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak appears to have claimed that option for now.

13 March, UPDATE: Cover-More suspended the sale of new Cancel for Any Reason add-on products in Australia and New Zealand from “end-of-day, Friday, 13 March”.

Note there were exclusions, and limitations on the total costs.

On security of

It’s the nature of business that many fail from time to time leaving numerous debtors and creditors. It would seem reasonable to have some form of assurance that protected prepayments for travel, given the large sums at risk.

Everything comes at a cost. Are travellers prepared to pay more to have the payments protected, if that is what is needed?

The flip side is a business owner and their staff also need to be protected from a guests inability to turn up and your actions to cancel should not disadvantage them either. What’s fair?

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I have booked and paid for some domestic flights with Virgin Australia for the upcoming school holidays in April.

Despite Virgin Australia saying their planes and hygiene standards are high and the risk of contracting the virus on domestic flights is low they have still had over 10 flights where passengers have flown with them who have tested positive to the COVID-19.

I bought cheap non flexible tickets but I see Virgin are offering a free one off change to another date or change of destination but because we don’t know how long this threat to public health will remain I really would like to cancel my booking and get a refund.

Do I have any grounds for a refund at all. Duty of care and the fact that they can’t really guarantee that we won’t catch the virus on board their flights?

I tried to send them an online feedback form but that doesn’t seem to be working and apparently their guest contact centre has been swamped and it may take hours to get through.

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No, you have no legal right for a refund. You booked and paid for a specific product. Just because you’re worried about an external event (Covid-19), doesn’t mean they need to do anything.

Despite that, many companies are trying to maintain their reputation with this situation, so by all means call them and ask them.

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As @Matt.J suggests you should try to contact them. Virgin does have a facility where fares can be credited to a travel bank, with the credit available to use towards a future fare, within 12 months. While not routine for anyone wanting to change a low cost booking, Virgin may be keen to keep your goodwill.

Worth the ask.

P.S.
Asking any transport provider to guarantee you cannot pickup the COVID-19 virus seems ambitious. I’d be more worried about travelling daily on the bus or train at peak hour. The primary responsibility to reduce the risk to others is with us, the travelling public, to self isolate if we have any symptoms and to follow the medical advice re assessment. Perhaps the only way any airline can guarantee zero risk is to stop carrying passengers.

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