Coronavirus and travel insurance[30.01]
At this time of the year, one of the most popular vacation destinations among Estonians is Asia. However, prompted by the coronavirus outbreak in China around the holiday season, an increasing number of travellers are asking their insurers whether they are compensated for trips cancelled out of fear of an epidemic.
Although Wuhan, a city with a population of 11 million and the epicentre of an outbreak that continues to spread, has been closed off from the rest of the world, the virus has already infected over 6,000 people and claimed more than 130 lives. It is common knowledge that viruses don’t stop at borders and easily spread with people travelling between countries, and thus it is only to be expected that vacationers are worried about becoming infected.
According to Jonatan Jõks, travel insurance product manager at Seesam, the insurance company has recently received numerous calls and e-mails from concerned citizens wanting to know whether it is possible to cancel their trip out of fear of the virus and receive compensation, and whether their policy covers the cost of medical care in Asia.
“As a rule, epidemics and pandemics are neither insured events under travel interruption cover nor are considered natural disasters. If our client decides to cancel a planned trip to East Asia, this is not a case of travel interruption. However, our clients are most welcome to choose a policy that provides additional cover, allowing them to cancel a trip for any reason – for example, due to unexpected professional responsibilities or accidents involving family members or pets. Or, as in this case, because of fear of the coronavirus,” explains Jõks.
Also, he stresses that the option to cancel a trip for any reason cannot be added after the virus has started to spread worldwide, or in other words, additional cover should have been purchased within two weeks of paying for the trip concerned.
Medical care at the epicentre of the virus is compensated for
“We will compensate for costs incurred due to timetable and schedule changes, depending on when the event was announced and whether our client has basic or additional cover. Virus outbreaks are not excluded from medical care insurance,” he assures travellers.
This means that if an insured person is on a leisure or business trip and happens to incur medical costs as a consequence of the current situation in China, such assistance is fully covered under the terms and conditions of an insurance contract and nobody is left to cope on their own.
“For complete peace of mind when travelling, carefully read travel insurance terms and conditions before signing a contract and make sure that your preferred coverage corresponds to the nature of your trip as well as ensures actual assistance when needed,” emphasises Jõks.