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Corona virus – Insurers Clarify Coverage

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The Australian insurance industry has warned that “broad exclusions normally apply” to pandemics and epidemics such as the corona virus but some insurers have announced that policyholders will be covered under specific circumstances according to an article issued on the Insurance News website.

Novel corona virus which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan on December 31 has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says that while many travel insurers have exemptions “for outbreaks of infectious diseases and pandemics” each insurers policy is different.

The ICA commented that some travel insurance policies will cover travellers whose travel plans have been disrupted by the corona virus or who have incurred medical expenses it will depend on when the policy was bought and when the claimant started their trip.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) says that global pandemics are generally not insurable and haven’t been for a long time. This is because insurers can’t measure or understand what potential losses could eventuate from an outbreak of an infectious disease said Tim Grafton CEO of the ICNZ.

Exclusions are not uniform across all policies, however. Travel insurer Travel Card says it recognises the enormous impact the virus is having on the world and its travellers and said that they have made the decision to provide support to their customers by extending their leisure travel policy beyond its usual parameters which will include assisting with the cost of repatriation and supporting those who want to return from China and Hong Kong earlier than planned.

Zurich owned Australia based travel insurer Cover – More said it provides more than 70 different policies to distribution partners that offer different levels of coverage and there is cover available for medical expenses under many of their policies if a customer travelling overseas contracts the corona virus and is hospitalised. However, even if medical cover is available to customers for this event, there may not be cover for traveller’s cancellation or amendment of travel plans and other additional expenses as a result of the corona virus epidemic.

The ICA has urged travel insurance customers who have suffered disruption due to the virus to contact their travel agent and transport and accommodation providers in the first instance to seek refunds or make alternative arrangements. Insurers are also being urged to refer to their individual policies to understand the level of coverage provided.