Travel insurance and COVID cover: Your top questions answered

Posted: 12 April 2022 9:38 am
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fti covid question

To help you get covered for your next trip, here's a rundown of what COVID-related events are and aren't covered by travel insurance.

Every week, almost half of the questions Finder's insurance team receives are about COVID-related travel queries.

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Can travel insurance cover COVID?

Yes. Travel insurance can cover you for COVID-related expenses. Finder looked at over 36 policies and found 22 travel insurers that offer some form of COVID cover.

We've made a list of policies available here.

Does this include if I catch COVID?

Yes. If you or someone you're travelling with catches COVID before or during your trip, travel insurance can cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Trip rearrangement or cancellation costs
  • Quarantine costs

A real-life example

Jillian, Kerry and Tyson travelled from Sydney to Dallas. About 10 days in, Tyson (Jillian's son) caught COVID, a day before the family was supposed to leave for a ski trip in Colorado. As a result, they had to rearrange their travel plans.

Unfortunately, Jillian got COVID later and the family made the difficult decision to send Tyson and Kerry home to Sydney, while Jillian stayed another 4 days until she tested negative. She then rebooked her trip home.

Their insurer, Southern Cross Travel Insurance, covered just under $3,000 in costs. It paid a $500 excess to claim on 2 events.

What happens if I have to quarantine?

If you or someone you're travelling with catches COVID during your trip, you'll probably need to push back your flight and quarantine in your hotel or accommodation. Travel insurance can cover these costs.

For example, Sydney traveller Cristina Biason took out a travel insurance policy on 8 December for a trip to Spain on 17 December. Cristina caught COVID while she was in Spain and had to spend 20 days in isolation before flying home on 29 January.

Without travel insurance, she would have had to pay for the extra accommodation and flight changes herself. Her insurer also covered the cost of paying for RATs while she was there.

What about mandatory hotel quarantine?

At this point, countries don't generally require you to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival – one of the few exceptions is China. If they do, travel insurance won't cover you.

This is because travel insurance covers unforeseen events – not ones you should have known about in advance, such as a country's quarantine rules.

For the latest on a country's travel rules, check the government's smartraveller website.

What happens if there's a border closure?

This is one of the few situations where travel insurance generally doesn't help out. Fortunately, government-imposed border closures and lockdowns look to be a thing of the past – but it's still worth being aware of the exclusion.

If you do want cover for international border closures though, some credit card travel insurance policies may cover you.

Does travel insurance cover COVID tests?

Generally, no. Travel insurance generally won't cover COVID tests, such as a PCR, where you are required to be tested in order to travel. This is because testing is part of your original travel arrangements, so cover won't apply.

However, you can be covered if you catch COVID while you're overseas and you need to take a COVID test, such as a RAT.

For instance, Southern Cross Travel Insurance says that "if your original journey is disrupted by an event that’s covered by our policy, such as an unexpected weather event or COVID-19 diagnosis, you can submit a claim for your costs of rescheduling your original trip. This includes getting an updated pre-departure PCR test."

Can I get cover for COVID if I go on a cruise?

Yes, but there are only a small number of insurers offering COVID cover for cruises at the moment. These include Travel Insurance Direct and Southern Cross Travel Insurance which can cover you for medical expenses. (As soon as you leave Australian shores, Medicare typically doesn't cover you).

Is travel insurance compulsory?

In many cases, it is. Popular travel destinations including Bali, Singapore and Thailand have recently made travel insurance mandatory.

The Australian government's travel website also says that, "if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel" – so even if it's not a requirement, it's highly recommended that have it.

To find out if it's compulsory where you're travelling, search your destination on the smartraveller website.

When should I take out a policy?

It's always a good idea to take out insurance as soon as you book your trip. That way, if something happens – for example, if you catch COVID – you'll be covered.

If you take out a policy after something happens, your claim will be rejected.

A handful of providers including Cover-More and Easy Travel Insurance also won't accept COVID-related claims within 21 days of your trip, so make sure you take out cover at least 3 weeks before you set off.

Ready to take out cover for your next trip? Still have questions? You can compare travel insurance policies and find out more here.

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