Will travel insurance cover canceled flights due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak?

【武漢肺炎】取消航班或行程受阻,旅遊保險有無得賠?

The Wuhan coronavirus is spreading and raging in places across the world, with a total of 24,553 confirmed cases and 492 deaths so far. In Hong Kong, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus has risen to 18. In light of the increasingly serious situation, many countries have strengthened their immigration control measures to prevent the epidemic from spreading locally. The Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries have banned Chinese, Hong Kong, and Macau residents from entering. 

A lot of tourists who are about to depart are worried that their trips will be delayed, shortened or canceled, and do not know whether their travel insurance will cover these situations. Many are also concerned about how many medical expenses travel insurance can cover if they get infected during the trip.

Today, our experts in Kwiksure will explain the coverage of travel insurance in Hong Kong due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Entry restrictions excluded from coverage?

First, according to The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers, if you are forced to cancel your trip due to "entry restrictions" (such as refused entry or rejection of visa application), most likely you won’t be able to get any compensation since most travel insurance policies in Hong Kong do not cover "entry restrictions".

For example, the Philippine government has imposed a temporary entry ban on all visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau; or the Kuwaiti government has announced a ban on passport holders of China and Hong Kong. In such cases, if the passenger needs to change their flight, itinerary, or accommodation, they should call the insurance company and ask if their policy can provide any coverage. Also, they can also try to contact the airline to request a ticket refund, which, however, will be at the discretion of the company. 

Countries restricting entry of Hong Kong visitors (latest update: 06/02/2020)

In the face of the deadly coronavirus, governments across the world are taking drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus, from closing their borders, ordering mandatory quarantines to issuing travel bans.

  • Taiwan

The government has imposed a ban on people from China, Hong Kong, and Macau over the coronavirus.

  • United States

Foreign visitors who have traveled to China in the past 14 days are prohibited from entering, but Hong Kong residents are not restricted.

  • North Korea

The government has banned all foreign tourists.

  • Philippines

The government has issued a temporary travel ban on all travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

  • Vietnam

The government has suspended travel visa issuance to Hong Kong passport holders.

  • Italy

The government has banned all flights departing from Hong Kong.

  • Kuwait

The government has prohibited entry for all Hong Kong passport holders.

  • Papua New Guinea

The government has banned all Asian travelers.

What kind of traveling situations are covered?

Depending on the terms of your travel insurance, passengers may be covered in the following situations:

  • when the Hong Kong government adds the "severe respiratory disease associated with a novel infectious agent" to the list of “statutory notifiable infectious diseases”; the policyholder has secured the insurance before the announcement and is unable to travel due to the outbreak.

  • if the WHO has declared that your destination country or place with confirmed infections of the new coronavirus; and if the policyholder has insured before the specified date and is unable to travel due to the outbreak.

  • when there is a sudden outbreak of infectious disease during the trip, and you need to cancel your trip.

Travel medical coverage

If you are infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, can the travel insurance cover your medical costs?

First of all, if you suffer from the coronavirus at your destination during the trip and you want to go to a local hospital for medical treatment, you are eligible for overseas medical expenses protection (including outpatient and hospital expenses). Even if the length of your hospital stay exceeds the period of coverage, some travel insurance policies may cover extra medical expenses or offer additional hospitalization benefits, adding an extra layer of protection for the policyholder.

Furthermore, if you need to change your itinerary (for example, when you are subject to mandatory quarantine), you can also claim additional accommodation and transportation costs from the insurance company.

How do you maximize your chance of getting a successful claim?

All in all, whether travel insurance covers the Wuhan coronavirus mainly depends on whether it meets the definition of "infectious disease" in travel insurance. Also, the sooner you buy travel insurance, the higher your chances of getting compensation

We also recommend that policyholders keep an eye on the destination and the latest status of the airline in order to respond as soon as possible. Finally, if you’ve developed symptoms of the virus before your trip, for the safety of yourself and other people, it’s wiser that you avoid traveling altogether and consult the doctor as soon as possible.

If you still have more questions, it is best to check with your insurance broker or insurance company. After all, the current situation is rather special and the terms and conditions of every travel insurance product are different. Even if the insurance company rejects your claims in the end, some may be able to arrange for refunds of premiums or change the coverage period for free.

Contact Kwiksure for more inquiries

Kwiksure is an insurance brokerage company with over 20 years of experience, specializing in motor insurance (including third-party insurance and comprehensive insurance), travel insurance, and home insurance, among others. Our weekly blog feature articles answer our readers' common questions about insurance and revolve around the latest health trends (such as our recent article on "How to Prevent Wuhan Pneumonia".)

If you would like to know more about travel insurance, please feel free to contact our experts at Kwiksure or call 3113 1331.

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