Travel insurance and coronavirus: Are you covered?

ELLIE MCLACHLAN
Senior News Journalist · 27 September 2021
With the prospect of international travel resuming around the corner, Canstar took a look at travel insurance providers currently offering COVID-19 cover to travellers in certain situations, as well as some of the important exclusions to watch out for.
Travel insurance vaccines
Canstar investigates what COVID-19 cover travel insurance providers are offering. Image: Sam Wordley/Shutterstock.com.

The prospect of international travel is right around the corner.

Australians have been promised overseas travel will resume once 80% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, while vaccine passports for international travel could be available within weeks and Qantas is gearing up to start flights to a handful of countries with high vaccination rates from mid-December.

What will be interesting to see is how travel insurance will work, as providers head into the largely uncharted waters of insuring Australians who are able to travel freely to other countries (other than New Zealand, at times) during a pandemic.

One thing travellers might be wondering is how their vaccination status could impact the cover and pricing of travel insurance.

The buck will of course stop with the airlines to an extent, and government regulations could also determine whether unvaccinated travellers are allowed to fly in the first place, before insurance even comes into the equation.

At this time, COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory for those leaving the country with an approved exemption for essential travel, according to the government’s Smartraveller website.

If unvaccinated travellers are allowed to fly once borders fully open up for all travellers, a spokesperson for Cover-More told Canstar the insurance provider was not considering pricing vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers’ policies differently “at the moment”.

Fellow travel insurance provider nib told Canstar it would not ask any questions regarding vaccination when travellers purchase a policy, and premiums would not be impacted by a person’s vaccination status.

Canstar money expert Effie Zahos said it was interesting to see these Australian travel insurance providers say they were not planning to price-discriminate between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers at this early stage, but she warned the boundaries could change with insurance.

“When you look at the model of insurance more broadly, providers do often discriminate on price,” Ms Zahos said.

“Take a look at home and contents insurance. If you live in a flood-prone area you’re going to pay more than someone who doesn’t, and if you live in a bushfire zone you’re going to pay more too.

“Time will tell if these companies maintain their stance on vaccines and policy pricing.”

While international travel remains off the cards for now, we break down what travel insurance options are available with coronavirus cover from insurers on our database at the moment.

Where to find travel insurance that covers coronavirus

Canstar took a look at what travel insurance providers are doing right now when it comes to COVID-19 cover in policies.

Broadly, travel insurers are not covering overseas medical costs related to COVID-19, because there is a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning in place. The exception to this rule is if people are travelling to New Zealand – the only foreign country without a ‘Do Not Travel’ alert, though the travel bubble arrangement is currently suspended.

A spokesperson from the Insurance Council of Australia told Canstar that travel insurance would be available with some COVID-19-related cover to any countries who may have their ‘Do Not Travel’ warnings lifted in the coming months by the Australian Government.

Of the 45 travel insurance providers on Canstar’s database currently accepting new applications, 28 do not provide any cover for COVID-19 related claims.

The below list shows the travel insurance providers on Canstar’s database offering cover for some COVID-19-related claims. Every policy is different, with very specific terms, conditions and exclusions applied, so it’s important to read the fine print when comparing your options.

Allianz

For policies effective from: 29 April 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Limited cover available in some cases if you or your travel companion contracts COVID-19.

ahm

For policies effective from: 9 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Cover-More

For policies effective from: 9 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Easy Travel Insurance

For policies effective from: 31 March 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ Only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Fast Cover Option COVID-19 Pack*

For policies effective from: 1 August 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ Only

Important exclusions: Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Flight Centre

For policies effective from: 9 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Go Insurance

For policies effective from: 1 August 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ (or other destinations, provided a travel exemption is acquired)

Important exclusions: Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements. No cover if you fail to observe government preventative and precautionary measures, including any official rules or guidelines around vaccination and social distancing.

Jetstar

For policies effective from: 11 August 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Limited cover available in some cases if you or your relative contracts COVID-19.

Medibank

For policies effective from: 9 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

nib

For policies effective from: 20 January 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ Only

Important exclusions: Does not cover losses due to any quarantine that is broadly imposed (i.e. not as a result of your diagnosis, or close contact with, COVID-19) or travel restrictions due to government orders or border closures. No cover if you do not observe appropriate government, health department and WHO preventative measures (social distancing, hygiene, restrictions etc).

Qantas

For policies effective from: 11 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ Only

Important exclusions: Does not cover losses due to any quarantine that is broadly imposed (i.e. not as a result of your diagnosis, or close contact with, COVID-19) or travel restrictions due to government orders or border closures. No cover if you do not observe appropriate government, health department and WHO preventative measures (social distancing, hygiene, restrictions etc).

Southern Cross Travel Insurance

For policies effective from: 11 August 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ Only

Important exclusions: Limited cover available in some cases if you or your relative contracts COVID-19.

Travel Insurance Direct

For policies effective from: 15 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? No

Important exclusions: Does not cover losses due to any quarantine that is broadly imposed (i.e. not as a result of your diagnosis, or close contact with, COVID-19) or travel restrictions due to government orders or border closures. No cover if you do not observe appropriate government, health department and WHO preventative measures (social distancing, hygiene, restrictions etc).

Travellers Choice

For policies effective from: 9 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Virgin Australia

For policies effective from: 9 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Webjet

For policies effective from: 9 December 2020

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Some benefits do not apply to claims involving travel on a multi-night cruise. Does not cover claims relating to border closures and associated mandatory quarantine or self-isolation requirements.

Worldcare

For policies effective from: 29 April 2021

Domestic travel? Yes

International travel? NZ only

Important exclusions: Limited cover available in some cases if you or your travel companion contracts COVID-19.

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 21 September 2021. List is not comprehensive; there may be other travel insurance providers offering cover for COVID-19-related claims. Other exclusions may apply. Read the PDS and Terms & Conditions before purchasing a policy. *Fast Cover Optional COVID-19 Pack may not be offered to all new customers.

When can Australians travel overseas again?

The government has promised Australians will be able to travel overseas once states reach 80% full vaccinations, and Qantas has scheduled international flights to resume from mid-December, pending decisions by the Australian Government and other countries on borders.

At this time, you cannot leave Australia to go anywhere unless you get a special exemption from the Department of Home Affairs, which requires an online application and meeting at least one of a range of detailed criteria.

This is because there is a ‘Do not travel’ warning in place, issued by the Australian Government, for all overseas countries except New Zealand, due to the risks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australians were able to travel freely to New Zealand between 18 April and 22 July, 2021 without needing to quarantine, if they had been in either country for more than 14 days and met the New Zealand Government’s health requirements. The NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Adern suspended this agreement in July, due to the threat posed by the Delta COVID-19 outbreak.

This story has been updated and was first published on 24 January, 2020.