Australia’s borders are open and with an increasing number of holidaymakers looking to book that international holiday, there are questions about whether we can purchase travel insurance.
Some Australian insurers are now offering travel insurance for level two countries, which includes the United Kingdom, the US, Canada, Fiji, most of Europe, Singapore and many others.
But experts say to read the fine print to make sure that you are covered for COVID-related medical expenses or government border closures and cancelled flights.
“Most travel insurance policies won’t cover pandemic-related claims related to border closures and countries that are deemed unsafe to travel to,” said James Martin, a travel insurance expert from Finder.
“That said, both Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) and Cover-More do provide some level of protection against COVID-19 – both will provide cover for medical expenses if you catch the virus. They’ll also cover you for important things like trip cancellations and lost or stolen luggage. However, these policies don’t offer cover for snap lockdowns or border closures.”
SCTI’s product disclosure statement says that you’ll be covered for any changes you make before you travel but you will not be covered if you change your mind about travelling. The policy also does not cover pre-existing medical conditions or if you are stranded overseas because of border closures.
But if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 then, under SCTI’s policy, you would be covered. Cover-More and Fast Cover will also cover you for COVID-19 medical expenses, trip re-arrangement if you, a travel companion or your host gets COVID-19 and your expenses if you are forced into quarantine during your trip.
No insurers will cover you if you travel to a country with a “do not travel” warning level, or if you travel against medical advice.
In countries such as Singapore and Fiji you will be required to get a PCR test before departing the country. The cost for a PCR test is $160 in Singapore, $150 in Fiji and the US, and about $90 in the UK.
Travel insurance does not cover this cost so you will need to allow for it in your travel budget.
Other countries, including Bali, Singapore and Thailand, require travellers to have a policy that covers medical expenses, sometimes for up to $134,000. For Singapore, there are three local providers which offer COVID insurance – Chubb Insurance, AIG and HL.
South Africa, Italy, Ireland, Canada, the US, Fiji and New Zealand all recommend or require medical expenses to be included in your travel insurance policy.
A policy from SCTI would cost you about $107 for a seven-day trip, whereas Cover-More will cost $186. Bupa will set you back only $106 for its platinum plan. 1Cover charges $65 for unlimited medical cover.
Mr Martin says that you should “always check a travel insurance policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to find out exactly what’s included. You can use the Find tool (Ctrl-F or Cmd+F) and search for the terms ‘COVID’ and ‘coronavirus’ in the copy of the policy”.
It is also worth searching the terms “endemic” and “pandemic” as some insurers, like SCTI, do not specifically refer to the COVID-19 pandemic in their policy.
Before you travel, check the travel warning for the country that you are travelling to on the Smartraveller website. You cannot claim back money if you travel to a country with a “Do not travel” warning from DFAT.
There are four travel warning levels:
* Exercise normal safety precautions.
* Exercise a high degree of caution.
* Reconsider your need to travel.
* Do not travel.