Does travel insurance cover coronavirus?

Yes, it can cover medical expenses, rescheduling and quarantine costs – but some key exclusions apply.

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What you need to know

  • Several travel providers offer some cover for COVID expenses. However, you cannot claim back money if you visit a country with a "Do not travel" warning.
  • You are likely covered if you or a fellow traveller tests positive to COVID before or during your trip.
  • Typically, you will not be covered if you cancel your trip due to a snap border closure or lockdown.

How does travel insurance cover COVID?

We reviewed a bunch of travel insurance policies and found some brands offering specific cover for COVID-19-related expenses in their product disclosure statements (PDS). These can include the following main benefits:

  • COVID-19 medical expenses.
  • Trip rearrangement costs – if you, a fellow traveller or your host gets COVID and it impacts your trip.
  • Expenses if you're unexpectedly forced into quarantine during your trip (out of 16 providers we looked at, only 4 will pay some costs for mandatory quarantine on arrival).

Some brands go further when it comes to COVID benefits, but make sure you read the fine print so you know exactly what's covered. Benefits may include:

  • The accommodation or venue you planned to stay at is suddenly closed.
  • A prepaid activity that's booked in Australia or New Zealand is shut down.
  • If you're denied boarding on transport due to symptoms.
  • Extra child care costs if you get COVID.
  • Added pet care costs if you're infected and can't return home.

🔥 Hot tip: The easiest way to find out what's covered is to use the find tool (Ctrl+F or Cmd+F) and search for the terms "COVID-19" and "coronavirus" in the digital copy of your policy.

For new policies, you'll want to check carefully as terms can vary. Plus, insurance may not be available for all destinations. Finally, remember that travel insurance only kicks in when the government says it's safe to travel to a country.

COVID travel insurance: The key points to know

Looking for travel insurance that covers COVID-19?

You can click on "View details" to compare more COVID-19 benefits.

Name Product COVID-19 medical expenses Border closure cover Theft or damage to luggage Rental car excess insurance Standard excess
World2cover International Top Cover Travel Insurance
$15,000
$5,000
$200
Fast Cover Basics Travel Insurance
$2,000
Optional
$200
Fast Cover Standard Saver Travel Insurance
$5,000
Optional
$200
Fast Cover International Comprehensive Travel Insurance
$15,000
Optional
$200
Fast Cover Snow Sports Plus Travel Insurance
$15,000
Optional
$200
Cover-More International Basic Travel Insurance
$5,000
No Cover
$250
Cover-More International Comprehensive Travel Insurance
$15,000
$5,000
$250
Cover-More International Comprehensive+ Travel Insurance
$25,000
$5,000
$250
Cover-More - Inbound Travel Insurance
$15,000
$5,000
$250
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Compare up to 4 providers

What happens if I get sick from COVID-19 while I'm overseas?

Your travel insurance policy may offer cover for COVID-related medical expenses so you're not left with hefty bills.

If you don't have travel insurance or your policy doesn't include costs related to COVID, your medical expenses could be covered by a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA). This agreement allows citizens to receive health care treatment at a reduced cost while visiting a partner country.

While you can expect to receive essential medical care on the same (or similar) terms as a local, you'll probably still need to fork out for hospital fees and medicines.

Australia has an RHCA agreement with New Zealand, UK, Italy and Ireland, among others.

What's excluded from COVID travel insurance?

The pandemic is considered a "known event" and so, unfortunately, travellers have to take on many of the risks of COVID-related travel disruption. This is because insurance is designed to cover unforeseeable events only.

Your policy won't typically offer cover for the following COVID-19-related events:

  • You cancel plans due to government-enforced border closures or lockdowns.
  • You enter into quarantine or self-isolation that's known in advance.
  • You ignore a doctor's advice that you aren't well enough to travel.
  • Your trip includes a multi-night cruise.

Some travel insurance policies still don't offer any cover for COVID-19. Plus, there are a number of other COVID-linked costs you may need to consider, such as PCR or rapid tests.

"I cannot see them (travel insurers) ever covering the PCR tests. I think these will be something that is just considered as a cost as part of travelling," Sandra Skelton, Luxury Travel CEO, told Finder.

There are some general exclusions that most Australian travel insurers won't ever cover – for example, if your luggage is left unattended.


How to hold a valid COVID travel insurance policy

There are 4 travel advice levels from Smartraveller, which is provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to give official overseas travel advice.

Smartraveler graphic

On 28 October 2021, the Australian government removed its "Do not travel" warning for 162 countries. This means travel insurance will likely cover your trip if you're going to a country classed under a level 2 category. If you're going to a level 3 country, some travel insurers might not cover you.

To hold a valid travel insurance policy, the 2 key requirements are as follows:

One

You have permission to travel

That is, borders are open to the public and there are no government-imposed restrictions. If you travel against the advice of DFAT, your policy may be voided.

Two

You're an Australian resident

This has generally always been a condition of buying travel insurance. That said, there are a handful of specialised policies that can be bought by people visiting and travelling around Australia.

🔥 Hot tip: In the future, DFAT may lift its warnings and you may find more travel insurance that covers COVID-19. Keep an eye on Smartraveller before and during your trip for the latest advice.

What to keep in mind with travel bookings

With travel plans changing all the time, you may want to choose flexible flight payment options – which have been offered by the likes of Qantas and Virgin – to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses if things go wrong.

"Look through each travel provider's terms and conditions, paying close attention to their wording on cancellations and refunds," explained Adam Glezer, travel expert and consumer rights advocate.

Glezer added: "If your terms and conditions are live on a website, make sure you print a copy for your records. In the event of a cancellation, you'll have the relevant evidence of your entitlements."

It's a good idea to try booking with flexible conditions for minimum hassle. Keep in mind, if you book through a third party such as a travel agent, you'll also have to deal with it for any refund or change requests.

Finally, be sure to check your passport has at least 6 months' validity before it expires.

Person searching for travel insurance on laptop

You can read more on the latest international travel rules in our comprehensive guide here.

Get travel insurance with COVID-19 cover

Important:

Travel insurance rules continue to change as a result of the pandemic. Some information may not be accurate at this time. It’s even more important to double-check all details that matter to you before taking out cover. Please note:
    • Some policies may not be available through Finder at this time
    • It’s unlikely that your policy will cover expenses from border closures

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