How are Australian travel insurers handling the COVID-19?
As of 19 March 2020, the Australian Government via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has held their travel advice for all overseas travel as DO NOT TRAVEL.
The escalation to Level 4 travel restrictions is highest possible advice level registered by DFAT and marks an unpresented time for Australians looking to travel or currently travelling.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has recently stated that Australian consular staff are working around the clock to try and help the thousands of Australian’s abroad as flights are cancelled and travel restricted around world.
Expectedly, this has implications for travellers and their insurance policies. According to the National Insurance Brokers Association of Australia:
- If government issues a ‘do not travel’ advice as a result of a pandemic, travel insurance may cover a traveller for trip cancellation costs, depending on when the policy was purchased and what general exclusions the policy contains relating to claims for pandemic or epidemic.
- If an Australian who is already travelling falls ill as a result of a pandemic, their travel insurance may cover medical treatment overseas and a medical evacuation to Australia if covered by their policy.
- Many travel insurance policies do explicitly exclude any claims related to pandemics. Once a traveller returns to Australia, or if symptoms only present on home soil, the traveller is covered by Medicare.
Policy wordings vary amongst different insurers. Therefore, it is imperative for businesses and individuals to read through their full policy wordings, and review in detail the terms and conditions in order to have a deep understanding of the scope of cover and how your policy may or may not respond to a COVID-19 related claim.
It is also important to closely monitor the government’s position and guidelines on this rapidly involving situation. The Australian Government via DFAT is consistently reviewing travel messaging through their smartraveller website.
For the latest updates on coverage issues including recent responses from various insurers across Australia on previous travel claims restrictions, please visit:
- AFA Insurance: 02 9259 8222 or 1300 728 997
- AHI Underwriting: 02 9251 8700 or 1800 618 700
- AIG Australia: +60 3 2772 5592 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chubb Insurance: 02 9335 3200
- QBE Insurance Group: 02 9375 4874
DFAT’s urgent consular assistance line can be reached on the following numbers:
- +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
- 1300 555 135 from within Australia
- +61 421 269 080 from SMS
If you have any queries related to your travel insurance, please reach out to a Marsh representative.