Check your travel insurance for COVID-19 cover before you book overseas travel. That’s the message from the Insurance Council of New Zealand Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa (ICNZ) following the recent announcement of plans for the staged opening of Aotearoa New Zealand’s borders and the emergence of the omicron variant leading to overnight international border restrictions.
Tim Grafton, Chief Executive of ICNZ, says the insurance sector has responded to the new reality of global travel during the pandemic.
“Pandemic or not, travel insurance remains a good idea to cover non-COVID-19 related events such as delays, medical events such as a broken leg, theft or lost baggage or the impacts of a significant weather event. What’s essential before you book travel outside of Aotearoa as our borders open, is to check with your insurer what is and isn’t covered in relation to COVID-19. Sudden changes in the international situation, such as the snap re-introduction of border restrictions in many countries in response to omicron might otherwise leave you facing unforeseen costs.”
Some, but not all, policies may include cover for specific COVID-19 claims such as cancellation costs if you contract COVID-19 and can’t travel, costs to return home if a relative gets sick with COVID-19 or costs if you get sick with COVID-19 and need to quarantine while overseas. Some policies also cover reasonable costs if the person you are supposed to stay with gets COVID-19 and you need to find alternative accommodation. This cover will vary by policy so travellers must check before they travel.
However, border closures imposed by a government, either effecting your ability to leave or return to New Zealand, or enter or leave another country, are typically not covered as it is simply not possible to develop a product that accounts for the uncertainty and the level of risk this presents. Many international travellers are facing this situation right now with the emergence of omicron.
As each policy will differ, ICNZ strongly advises anyone purchasing travel insurance to read the policies thoroughly and to ask the insurer any questions they may have about what is and isn’t included.
“Cover will vary by policy and provider. It’s essential to check, and be clear about what is and isn’t covered, before you travel,” said Tim Grafton.
ENDS – KA MUTU
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Notes to editors
At present policies generally won’t cover:
- Cancellations to travel caused by government-imposed lockdowns;
- Costs if the government imposes blanket quarantine;
- Travel delay caused by COVID-19;
- Border closures due to COVID-19; and,
- Travel to any other countries where there is still a ‘do not travel’ alert in place.
Cover that might be offered by some insurers with specific COVID-19 extensions include:
- Cancellation costs if you get sick with COVID-19 before you go away;
- Costs to return home if a relative gets sick with COVID-19;
- Costs if you get sick with COVID-19 and must quarantine;
- Reasonable accommodation costs if the person you were supposed to stay with gets COVID-19;
- Cancellation costs if leave is revoked – if you are an essential health worker and your leave is revoked due to COVID-19 you may be able to claim the non-refundable costs;
- Cancellation costs for denied boarding due to a positive COVID-19 test at the airport – you and your travelling companion may be able to claim the non-refundable, prepaid cancellation costs provided that a public health authority directed you and you did not have knowledge or awareness of your positive test result at the time of your policy purchase; and,
- Cancellation due to being a close contact with someone with COVID-19 – Cancellation or amendment costs for a prepaid trip subject to the cancellation benefit limit on the policy if they have been directed to quarantine by a public health authority because they deemed to have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and can’t go on their trip.