Travel Update at March 18 2020.
Do Not Travel Level 4 Advice – International Travel
The Federal Government has just announced an indefinite ban on overseas travel by Australians, in the latest escalation of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller website confirms that the “Do not Travel” Level 4 advice now applies to all international destinations, and also urges anyone currently overseas to return as soon as possible by commercial means.
Ban on non-essential gatherings of 100 people
There is a ban on all non-essential gatherings of 100 people in indoor areas.
Special arrangements are being made to ensure cruise ships currently at sea are able to dock so that passengers can disembark.
Australians on board can get home and self-isolate, while international passengers are able to head straight to the airport to fly home.
International arrivals into Australia
If you’re travelling or returning to Australia and arrive from 12am on 16 March, you will be required to self-isolate (Coronavirus COVID-19 isolation guidance) for 14 days. This applies to all travellers, including Australian citizens. For details see the Australian Border Force website.
Update at March 16 2020.
Experts have put together the following guide summarising how different types of insurance are affected, and how they will respond to coronavirus.
This is probably the most concerning – and confusing – area for consumers, as different insurers will react in different ways to both medical expenses incurred overseas, and trip cancellations.
The easy answer is “check your policy”, but there’s wide variations between insurers. Some have gone beyond their policy wordings, which may be helpful for their customers, but could also add to the confusion.
Many policies have a general exclusion barring any claims arising from an actual or likely epidemic or pandemic, or a threat of an epidemic or pandemic. That’s not good news to people who are relying on their insurance cover, but at least it’s easy to understand.
However, not all travel policies include the pandemic exclusion. Almost all will exclude claims relating to a “known event”, but insurers don’t seem able to agree on when COVID-19 gained this status. Dates range from January 20 to January 31.
If the Government enacts a “do not travel” warning for certain locations but you go ahead and travel anyway, claims will likely be excluded.
On the flip side, when it comes to cancellation, consumers deciding not to travel in the absence of a government directive will almost certainly not be able to claim.
It’s a similar story with business interruption – policies vary widely but most will exclude claims relating to coronavirus.
ICA says “some specific policies may differ” but the majority are likely to contain exclusions relating to losses caused by diseases notifiable under the Quarantine Act or the Biosecurity Act.
Sports events, music festivals and industry conferences have all fallen victim to the virus, but most event cancellation policies contain a communicable diseases exclusion.
An extension can be written in, but now the outbreak is a “known event” it is impossible to get cover specifically for COVID-19.
Even if insureds arranged communicable disease coverage prior to the outbreak, insurers are unlikely to pay claims if an event cancellation is based on a decision by organisers, rather than a clear direction by authorities.
The Federal Government’s declaration on Friday that gatherings must be limited to 500 people could therefore have some implications.
There are concerns COVID-19 could cause a rush of workers’ compensation claims and associated premium rises.
If an employee can show that their job significantly contributed to them contracting the virus, then a claim could be made.
Consideration may be given to a range of work-related activities like travel to an area with a known viral outbreak, or interaction with people who have contracted the virus.
A statement from the life insurance industry, issued by the Financial Services Council (FSC), confirms that pandemic exclusions commonly found in general insurance are not present in life policies.
“There are no exclusions in existing life insurance policies that would prevent the policy paying out for a claim related to coronavirus if you follow government travel advice,” the FSC says.
“No-one should be concerned about their existing life insurance policies.”
As the global risk of a pandemic declaration arises, it is timely for organisations to prepare for the governance and risk management response required for this event.
With Coronavirus now spreading through countries far from its origin in China, it is now considered by experts to be at pandemic potential. A pandemic is “the worldwide spread of a new disease”.
Updated claims response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
This information is current as at 10th March 2020 and replaces any previous guidance issued.
The global situation is changing regularly and DFAT continue to update their travel warnings for affected countries and specific regions within countries. Anyone contemplating travel should refer to both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Smartraveller websites for the latest information.
CORPORATE TRAVEL: Customers must observe official travel warnings
The TravelCard Corporate travel insurance policy requires that clients observe travel warnings and do not expose themselves to foreseeable risks for both business and leisure travel.
There are two sections of cover this primarily concerns; Section 3 Loss of Deposits And Additional Expenses and Section 2 Medical And Medical Evacuation Expenses. Loss of Deposits is determined by whether the COVID-19 risk could be foreseen at the time of booking. Medical Expenses is determined by WHO and government warnings at time of entering the country or region within a country.
The information below is intended to assist you in discussing COVID-19 and its impact with your clients. Each claim will be considered based on the individual circumstances in accordance with the policy terms and conditions. If you have clients who may need to make a claim please contact the TravelCard team to discuss their options.
Loss of Deposits (cancellation)
• Travel booked prior to 30 January 2020 (except to Hubei province in China) – On 30 January the WHO declared COVID-19 a Global Health Emergency of International Concern. If your client booked travel prior to that date (except to Hubei Province in China which was subject to a DFAT 4 travel warning from 24 January) and their travel arrangements have been directly affected due to circumstances beyond their control as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic then cover is provided for loss of deposits (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording).
• Travel booked between 31 January 2020 and 3 March 2020 – If your client booked their travel after 30 January but prior to 4 March, they may be covered (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording). Cover depends on the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country being visited at the time of booking and whether it can be considered unforeseen. Examples of key countries where we may not consider COVID-19 unforeseen for all or part of this period include;
o South Korea
o certain regions in Italy
• Travel booked from 4 March 2020 – If your client booked their travel from 4 March there is no cover for loss of deposits due to COVID-19 as it can no longer be considered an unforeseen event (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording).
Medical Expenses and other covers
All clients must observe official travel warnings. If they enter a country or region within a country subject to a DFAT 4 – Do Not Travel – travel warning then no cover is provided, regardless of when the travel was booked (as per the terms and conditions of the policy wording). Note if the client is already within the country or region within the country, when the DFAT 4 travel warning is issued then cover is provided (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy wording).
Clients should consider carefully entering any country or region within a country which has featured prominently in the media, WHO or government warnings as having a significant COVID-19 risk. They or their employees may not be covered if they choose to travel and put themselves in harm’s way. If you have a client in this situation, please contact us to talk through the latest available information before travelling.
LEISURE TRAVEL INCLUDING BUSINESS CLASS:
Epidemic or Pandemic is a general exclusion
Like other Leisure travel insurance, TravelCard’s Leisure International, Leisure Domestic and Business Class for employees travel insurance policies have a general exclusion in the event of an actual or likely threat of a pandemic or epidemic.
It is important that you and your clients are aware that we are unable to provide cover for COVID-19 related claims, including when travelling to countries other than China.
Many travel providers are being flexible with changing travel arrangements and in many cases not charging additional fees to amend bookings. We would encourage you to speak with any affected clients to suggest they contact their travel provider(s) to explore all options.
If you have a client who has a claim relating to COVID-19 please contact us so we can discuss this claim with you.
Stay up to date
This is a rapidly changing situation. We continue to monitor developments very closely and will be in touch with you should anything material change. For further information on COVID-19 and the DFAT Advice Levels please direct your clients to the following websites:
• Smart Traveller: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/news-and-updates/novel-coronavirus-outbreak
• World Health Organisation (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019