Even though the COVID-19 pandemic remains volatile, the situation should improve as vaccines have been developed and become increasingly accessible, giving us hope that global travel will resume as life returns to normal. In light of this, some insurance companies have taken the lead in adding COVID-19 coverage to travel insurance, providing travellers with peace of mind.
In the early days of the pandemic, some insurance companies regarded COVID-19 as "known events and conditions" and issued a notice advising policyholders that for policies purchased after a specific date, trip cancellation or delay due to COVID-19 infection or medical expenses for COVID-19 infection during the trip would not be covered. There are also insurance companies that included COVID-19 as an infectious disease so that coverage would be provided for loss resulting from cancellation or delay due to COVID-19 diagnosis before or during the trip, as well as medical expenses due to diagnosis during travel. Coverage would also be provided for cancellation or delay due to COVID-19 diagnosis of an immediate family member, fiancé (fiancée), key business partner or travelling companion.
To meet the needs of customers, insurance companies added protection specifically for COVID-19 recently. Besides covering for the medical expenses for hospitalisation due to COVID-19 diagnosis while overseas, hospital cash benefits would also be provided. If the insured does not require hospitalisation, but is mandated by the local government or respective regulator to undergo quarantine, the insurance company would provide a cash allowance.
While these extra protections will bring peace of mind when we resume travelling, it is important to note that there are circumstances where compensation would not be provided. For instance, benefits would not be paid if the insured underwent pre-departure COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and was tested positive within 72 hours prior to the scheduled departure date; or if the insured did not undergo a PCR test but was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of departure. As such, undergoing a PCR test before departure can ensure the maximum protection. In addition, if the insured's quarantine period falls outside of the effective period of insurance, or if the government of the destination jurisdiction imposes mandatory quarantine or self-isolation on all visitors, the insured would not be able to seek compensation from the plan.
To protect our health and the people around us, those who make frequent business trips and Hongkongers passionate about travel must remember to purchase travel insurance with coverage for COVID-19, avoid travelling to high risk areas and remain vigilant about personal hygiene.
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