Coronavirus and travel insurance: Your questions answered

Wondering what's happening with future travel plans? We can help clear things up.

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Can I still buy travel insurance?

There are still some policies available, you just need to make sure you understand what you're being covered for. Some policies can cover you if you get coronavirus and have to cancel your trip, but you probably won’t be covered for things like border closures. Compare policies and get your quote.

Name Product Overseas Medical Expenses Cancellation and amendment fees Theft or damage to lugagge COVID-19 expenses Standard excess
Southern Cross TravelCare Single Trip
  • Unlimited
  • Cover chosen
  • $25,000
$250
Southern Cross Domestic Travel Insurance
  • No
  • Unlimited
  • $15,000
$100
InsureandGo Gold Domestic
  • No
  • $50,000
  • $8,000
$100
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Save 10% on your travel premium and enjoy competitive cover limits on trips you make in Australia with InsureandGo. Ts&Cs apply.
InsureandGo Silver Domestic
  • No
  • $10,000
  • $5,000
$100
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Save 10% on your travel premium and enjoy competitive cover limits on trips you make in Australia with InsureandGo. Ts&Cs apply.
InsureandGo Bare Essentials Domestic
  • No
  • $2,000
  • $2,000
$100
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Save 10% on your travel premium and enjoy competitive cover limits on trips you make in Australia with InsureandGo. Ts&Cs apply.
Tick Top Domestic Travel Insurance
  • $20,000
  • $7,500
$200
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Save 10% on travel insurance with Tick and choose between three domestic travel plans. Ts&Cs apply.
Tick Standard Domestic Travel Insurance
  • No
  • $5,000
  • $3,000
$200
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Save 10% on travel insurance with Tick and choose between three domestic travel plans. Ts&Cs apply.
Tick Basic Domestic Travel Insurance
  • No
  • $1,500
  • $2,000
$200
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Save 10% on travel insurance with Tick and choose between three domestic travel plans. Ts&Cs apply.
Zoom Domestic Travel Insurance
  • No
  • Unlimited
  • $7,500
$200
Travel Insurance Saver Comprehensive
  • $5,000 to Unlimited
  • $12,000
$2,500
$250
Travel Insurance Saver Annual Multi Trip
  • $10,000 to Unlimited
  • $12,000
$2,500
$250
Travel Insurance Saver Essentials
  • $2,500 to $40,000
  • $5,000
$250
Travel Insurance Saver Bare Essentials
  • $2,500
  • $2,000
$250
Travel Insurance Saver Australian Travel
  • $3,000 to $20,000
  • $4,000
$2,500
$100
Travel Insurance Saver Cancellation and Additional Expenses
  • $500 to $5,000
  • $0
$0
American Express Domestic Travel Insurance
  • No
  • $5,000
  • $5,000
$200
World2cover Domestic Travel Insurance
  • No
  • $25,000
  • $7,500
$100
World2cover International Top Cover Travel Insurance
  • Unlimited
  • Unlimited
  • $15,000
$100
Fast Cover Domestic Plus Travel Insurance
  • No
  • Unlimited
  • $7,500
$200
Fast Cover International Comprehensive Travel Insurance
  • Unlimited
  • Unlimited
  • $15,000
$200
CoverMore Domestic Single Trip Travel Insurance
  • No
  • $10,000
  • $3,000
Some cover
$250
CoverMore International Premium Single Trip Travel Insurance
  • Unlimited
  • Cover chosen
  • $15,000
Some cover
$250
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important:

Travel insurance rules continue to change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We’re working hard to keep up and make sure our guides are up to date, however some information may not be accurate during the pandemic. It’s even more important to double-check all details that matter to you before taking out cover. Please know that some policies may not be available through Finder at this time. Here are some helpful tips:
    • If you're buying a policy today, it's unlikely that you'll be covered for border closures
    • If your travel plans go against government advice, your policy will most likely be voided and you won't be covered

    What we know so far

    Since 25 March 2020, all leisure travel has been banned both internationally and domestically in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

    State border closures and entries are changing based on the number of active cases in that state. Keep an eye on the government's Smartraveller for advice.

    Many airlines and travel companies have introduced flexible bookings, so you can plan a future trip without being penalised if you have to reschedule.

    Since most travel insurers won't cover you if you travel against government warning, the travel ban voids most international travel insurance policies. If the ban is lifted, and you are permitted to travel, there are a few insurers offering cover.

    Update: On 6 April 2021, it was announced that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia could begin from 19 April. While the travel bubble has opened, the ability to travel between the two countries is still subject to change at very short notice.

    When comparing new travel insurance policies, we'd encourage you to look for direct references to COVID-19 in each brand's product disclosure statements (PDS) or websites. Read more about travel insurance for trips to New Zealand.

    Can I buy travel insurance?

    Travel insurance policies are still available though some brands have stopped selling them for the time being. For those still offering cover, you can buy it as long as;

    • 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 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), your policy may be voided.
    • You're an Australian resident. This has generally always been a condition of buying travel insurance. Though there are a handful of specialised policies that can be bought by people visiting Australia and travelling around the country.

    🔥 Hot tip: Choose a travel provider which will let you change your trip details without penalty or minimal fees.

    What will travel insurance cover?

    For coronavirus related incidents

    A few insurers have started offering "COVID-19 benefits" as part of their travel insurance policies. This can provide cover for your trip if you get diagnosed with coronavirus, or if someone you know is diagnosed, and it impacts your trip.

    Most people are probably worried about border closures and trip cancellation. Unfortunately, policies don't cover cancellation if it's caused by border closures. If you're booking a trip or holiday, try booking with flexible conditions so you can change or cancel your trip with only just a bit of hassle.

    For general travel insurance cover

    When travel restrictions are lifted, you can expect normal benefits to apply. For example:

    • If you break your leg in New York, you can be covered for the out-of-pocket medical expenses.
    • If there's a sudden death in the family and you have to reschedule your trip to London, you can be covered for the fees charged by airlines, hotels or travel agents.
    • If someone accidentally takes your luggage at baggage claim, you can be covered to replace your lost belongings.

    ⚠️ Just remember that this only applies when the government says it's safe to travel again.

    Got the travel itch?

    With travel plans up in the air, book with flexible payment options to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses if things change.

    Can I get my money back with travel insurance if I cancel my trip?

    If you bought travel insurance before coronavirus (COVID-19) became a "known event", you may be able to get some money back if you cancel your trip. However, this will depend on the type of insurance you have and the current travel alert for the country you're visiting.

    "Do not travel" alert: What does this mean?

    On 18 March 2020, Smartraveller upgraded travel advice for all countries outside of Australia to level 4 "Do not Travel."

    "Do not travel" is the highest level of alert that Smartraveller can issue. If you bought your policy before the cut-off date, you should be able to reclaim some of your lost expenses. Before you can do this, you'll need to see if your travel service provider is willing to refund you directly or provide some other alternative. Travel insurance will only cover you for expenses that you can't get back anywhere else.

    ⚠️ If you still decide to travel with this warning, your travel insurance policy will become void.

    Can I still get cancel-for-any-reason cover?

    As of 5pm on 13 March 2020, CoverMore's add-on feature "Cancel-for-any-reason (CFAR)" was suspended due to the unprecedented global event. For those who had bought this type of policy before this time, nothing has changed. It's just not available for new customers.

    Can I cancel my travel insurance if I'm not travelling anymore?

    You can cancel your policy, but you won't get a refund unless you cancel within the cooling-off period, which is usually within 14 days of the issue date, and you have no outstanding claims on the policy.

    This is because, even though it might not feel like it, your travel insurance has already been offering a service. If you injured yourself and you couldn't travel, your travel insurance would refund you the costs of your trip. It might not feel like you've used your travel insurance, but it has been providing a service since the day you bought it. That's why you can't cancel it now and get any money back.

    Crowd of people

    What do I do if my flights have been cancelled or delayed?

    A number of major airlines have suspended or reduced flights all over the world, including Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar. However, airlines are also offering refunds or free rescheduling services to affected customers, so you shouldn't be out of pocket for the cost of your ticket.

    As for your other pre-paid travel expenses like accommodation, cruises or tours, you may be able to claim back your losses with travel insurance if your plans have been impacted by the cancellations or delays.

    What do I do if I get stuck overseas and can't return to Australia?

    Unless you get coronavirus (COVID-19), the likelihood that you'll get stuck overseas for an extended period of time is low. At this current time, the Australian government is still allowing all citizens to return home though they need to follow quarantine and isolation advice to limit exposure.

    If you do somehow get stuck overseas, and you have a valid travel insurance policy, you might be able to claim back on benefits such as medical expenses, additional accommodation and loss of income.

    As the situation develops, it's very important that you check if you have a valid travel insurance policy. The main things to consider are:

    • Whether you bought your cover before the insurer's cut-off date
    • Whether you are covered for pandemics and epidemics
    • Whether you have followed the advice of Smartraveller

    What are epidemic and pandemic exclusions in travel insurance?

    Often, general travel insurance policies have an exclusion that restricts what you can claim in relation to epidemics or pandemics. This means that, even if you bought your policy before your insurance company's cut-off date, you might not be covered in the way that you think you are.

    If your insurance company has an exclusion, you'll be able to find it in the product disclosure statement (PDS). Alternatively, you can call your insurer directly to find out exactly how you're covered. In situations like this, insurers usually assess on a case-by-case basis, so it's always worth communicating with them directly.

    🔥 Hot tip: The easiest way to find out is to read your PDS carefully so that you're fully aware of what is, and isn't, covered in your policy. Try using the Find tool and search for the terms 'COVID-19' and 'coronavirus' in the digital copy of your policy.

    This article was updated after its original publication.

    Picture: GettyImages

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