Covid overseas travel coverage for New Zealanders as insurers live with pandemic risk


Known risk: the coronavirus has started to be covered by some insurers, despite the ongoing pandemic. Photo / Can Yilmaz, Unsplash

As Covid restrictions make travel easier, travel insurers are rewriting their policies to accommodate a scenario where we return to travel with cases of the coronavirus still in the wild.

The protracted nature of the coronavirus pandemic means some insurers are now offering travelers coverage for disruption and medical claims resulting from Covid 19.

While this is good news for those planning to travel to Australia or elsewhere, it is a remarkable change from the norm.

“While there is still a general exclusion for epidemics and pandemics, meaning that mandatory lockdowns and quarantines will not be covered, coverage will be in place if travelers contract an epidemic or pandemic disease such as that Covid-19 after the purchase of their policy and can no longer travel ”, we read in the New Zealand policy subscribed by Allianz Partners.

There are also provisions for travelers “who contract the disease after commencing their journey”.

It would be the first time the travel insurer has updated its policies to cover an illness prone to an ongoing pandemic.

“As a post-pandemic world feels close at hand, we know that many Kiwis are thinking about how to travel responsibly and how to get appropriate coverage,” said Blair Turnbull, Managing Director. of Tower Insurance, which began offering Covid 19 coverage to travelers. .
Those calculating the risk jumped the gun and said the challenge of dealing with the disease in New Zealand’s safe travel zone was manageable, before the World Health Organization downgraded the Covid pandemic -19.

Another reading of the decision is that underwriters now view the coronavirus as a travel risk that we will have to live with, for the foreseeable future.

The policy reflects Covid as a personal medical claim. This means that travelers will only be covered for a missed trip if the insured catches the illness.

Disruptions like local lockdowns or new travel restrictions are not one of them.

Pandemic travel cover

Pandemics and epidemics have long been considered “force majeure” by insurers.

Anyone caught in the March 2020 travel lockdowns will have found the clause buried in the fine print.

These large uninsurable events have traditionally been set aside as exceptions for travel insurance coverage.

However, contracting or having plans disrupted by the coronavirus is a “known risk” with the responsibility of New Zealanders to avoid the risk of travel.

“Like an en route storm or the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). These would not be unexpected events, ”reads Southern Cross’s TravelCare policy guidelines.

“A reasonably well-informed person would have seen that these events could cause problems for travelers.”

However, as the New Zealand government eases travel restrictions and updates advice for Australia and the Cook Islands, New Zealanders are no longer being advised not to travel.

MFAT’s safe travel advice for countries except quarantine is “Use extra caution” in Australia and the Cook Islands.

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