Corona damages exceed travel insurance costs caused by Iceland’s volcano a decade ago[23.03]
The cancellation of flights and bus trips and sudden closures of borders due to COVID-19 that started to spread at the beginning of the year has brought along a record number of insurance claims to Seesam Insurance and more than doubled its workload.
“Usually approximately two to three clients contact us with travel disruption problems, but in the last couple of weeks the virtual queue is, figuratively speaking, out the door, phone lines are overloaded with calls and we have had to temporarily reorganise our work within the department for providing quicker service to our clients. Handling complaints takes more time than usual and so we ask our clients for patience,” said Manager of Claims Handling Indrek Petter about the impact of coronavirus on Seesam Insurance.
Record number of indemnities
By now the cost of damages caused by the coronavirus is close to 400,000 euros and the number of events is almost 600. But according to the insurer, these are definitely not final numbers, as 40–50 loss notices are added daily. Many people have recently arrived home or some are still on their way and thus have not had time to submit evidence of the costs caused by the events yet.
“Last time when insurers had to deal with so many indemnifications for damage was ten years ago when the volcano that erupted in Iceland crippled air traffic and left millions of travellers in suspense. By now the damages caused by the coronavirus are of the same order of magnitude as the damages caused by the volcano. The number of cases continues to increase and this will probably be the biggest travel insurance indemnification arising from one root cause in Seesam’s history,” Petter stated.
As it is a popular travel season for Estonians, insured events have reached us from all over the world, most of them from Spain, Italy, Germany, Egypt and Austria, but also from places like Vietnam, Morocco and Georgia.
“Clients who had a trip planned for the near future, but wish to cancel it at their own request, have contacted us most often. Many of the damages caused are also by cancelled conferences, concerts and other events that were the purpose of the trip. After the massive closing of borders on 13 March, many trips are cancelled due to the fact that it is not possible to enter the destination country. In the latter case, however, these are not insured events,” clarified Petter.
According to a Seesam representative, they are most focussed on helping the people who have “got trapped” in a foreign country due to lack of transport caused by the global situation and are now trying to get home. These cases are very different, according to Petter, and are reviewed one by one.
“Any additional accommodation and transport costs arising from being stuck in another country due to the coronavirus quarantine will be compensated to people who have entered into additional cover for travel disruption. Therefore, people do not need to worry about being left alone with this problem in their situation,” the Manager of Claims Handling confirmed. Falling ill with the coronavirus is not an exclusion of medical care insurance and all the costs related to the treatment are subject to compensation.
Evidence necessary to receive compensation
For solving problems more smoothly, the insurer recommends staying calm in all situations. If the trip has not happened yet, people should do everything they can for reducing any possible costs and, if possible, cancel the trip or change the tickets and booking as soon as possible.
If there are changes in the travel plan or it is cancelled, you should at first contact the travel agency or airline.
“As you need to submit evidence to the insurer for receiving indemnification, we recommend gathering all the necessary documents beforehand and then submitting them altogether. We recommend submitting an application for indemnity after it has been clarified whether and how much the travel agency or airline will be compensating. Everyone who has arrived home safely, but has incurred additional costs, must submit all existing flight tickets and documents and cheques proving the additional costs. I have to emphasise that we assess each event separately and make the decision based on all the circumstances,” clarified Petter.