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News Room

Will Your Travel Insurance Cover You for Coronavirus?

Kristen Clague
2020-03-11
Many South Africans are concerned about traveling during the coronavirus outbreak. While most travel insurance policies do not offer cover in the event of an epidemic or pandemic, some insurers are adapting their policies to give travelers greater peace of mind. Let’s take a look.

As of March 17 2020, the World Health Organisation reported 168 019 confirmed cases of Covid-19 globally. In South Africa, there are 51 confirmed cases to date. With the current outbreak, major events across the world are being cancelled or postponed, flights are being cancelled and cities are being placed on lockdown.

So, what does this mean if you have upcoming travel planned? Unfortunately, in the midst of the spread of the virus, there is a chance that you might not be able to go ahead with your travel as planned. The first step is to pay attention to the advice and information provided by relevant health organisations. Be sure to monitor their updates on the area you intend on traveling to, so you are up to date with the most recent news on the scenario.

The second step is to make sure you are covered for your trip should something happen while you are abroad. If you have upcoming travel planned that you are still going ahead with, let’s take a look at what kind of cover you might need.

Over and above your comprehensive travel insurance that includes medical cover, check if your travel insurance policy covers you for some of these potential scenarios specific to Covid-19:

  • If your flights are cancelled

In the event of your flights being cancelled due to Covid-19 related reasons, there is a good chance that you will be reimbursed for your flights already, which is good news. But what about your accommodation? There are likely non-refundable accommodation costs that you will incur if you are to cancel at the last minute. Does your policy cover you for this?

  • If an event you are attending is cancelled

Are you travelling for a specific event? In the case that the event is cancelled, check that your travel insurance will cover you for non-refundable flights and accommodation.

  • If your flights are delayed

There’s a chance your plane might be delayed due to medical emergency or other coronavirus related reasons. You’re bound to get hungry and thirsty during this delay – you may even require accommodation depending on the duration. Does your travel insurance offer additional expenses cover?

  • If you want to get tested for Covid-19 (whether there are symptoms or not)

Traveling during this time can be worrying. What if you feel the need to get tested for the virus while you are away? If you’re concerned you may be infected, you will want to be tested as soon as possible. Check that your travel insurance offers you cover for Covid-19 testing to put your mind at ease.

  • If you want to come back to South Africa sooner that planned due to the virus

If there is reasonable threat of coronavirus in your destination abroad and you feel the need to come back earlier than planned, you are likely going to incur some costly penalty fees for flight and accommodation changes. Does your travel insurance cover you for this repatriation?

Although most standard travel insurance policies don’t offer cover in the case of epidemics or pandemics, some insurers like Hollard have responded with cover specific to Covid-19. Their Covid-19 travel insurance product, which can be purchased online from Travelsafe, offers unique cover in addition to their standard travel insurance.

If you want to stay up to date with the latest on Covid-19, here are some helpful and trusted resources to follow:

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