Now that the World Health Organisation has declared the COVID-19 (a.k.a. Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, or the Wuhan virus) outbreak as a public health emergency, is it still covered under your travel insurance plan? If not, what are the alternatives?
Due to extensive press coverage and numerous official advisories, COVID-19 is now classified as a "known event" by insurers. That is, we can reasonably expect everyone to be aware of the novel coronavirus as a travel risk. Therefore, if you are planning to buy travel insurance at this point, it will NOT be covered by your insurer.
However, if you bought travel insurance before 20 to 23 Jan 2020, you may still be covered. We have compiled the cut-off dates announced by the various insurers below.
Like most other insurers, NTUC Income has put out a statement that COVID-19 is now regarded as a "known event" and that all travel insurance policies activated from this point onwards will not pay out claims related to the outbreak.
If you bought an NTUC Income travel insurance policy for travelling to China earlier in January, you may still file a claim for either Cancelling/Shortening/Postponing your trip or Trip Disruption.
Your policy must have been purchased before 8pm on 20 Jan 2020 (for travel to Wuhan), or before 7pm on 27 Jan 2020 (rest of Mainland China).
According to FWD's statement, those who bought FWD travel insurance for travel to Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) may file COVID-19-related claims only if the policy was purchased before 23 Jan 2020. If the policy was bought on or after 23 Jan, outbreak-related claims will not be paid out.
As for those planning to travel anywhere else in the world, the cut-off date is 31 Jan 2020. If you bought your policy before then, you may still be able to claim Trip Cancellation, Trip Postponement, Trip Cut Short & Trip Disruption benefits arising from the event.
For those who bought travel insurance on 31 Jan or after, tough luck: FWD will no longer admit claims as the novel coronavirus outbreak was declared a health emergency by then. Furthermore, coverage for other travel insurance benefits may be subject to change.
For those who bought Etiqa travel insurance for China, Etiqa has said they will honour claims if the policy was purchased before 22 Jan 2020 (for Wuhan) or 27 Jan 2020 (for Mainland China, excluding Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan).
As for the rest of the world, the cut-off date is 31 Jan 2020. Travel insurance policies bought before 31 Jan are covered for events like trip cancellation due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but those bought from 31 Jan onwards are not.
Right now, MSIG’s TravelEasy travel insurance does not cover novel coronavirus-related claims if you were meant to be travelling to or passing through any part of Mainland China.
If you bought travel insurance earlier, you may be eligible to claim benefits if you bought your policy before 22 Jan 2020 (Wuhan), 23 Jan 2020 (Hubei Province) or 27 Jan 2020 (all other parts of Mainland China, excluding Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau).
MSIG does NOT cover trip cancellation for those who wish to cancel their travels to other countries in the light of the outbreak.
If you bought AIG travel insurance before 22 Jan 2020 (for Wuhan) or 27 Jan 2020 (for rest of Mainland China), you may be able to claim travel insurance benefits. For all China policies bought at a later point in time, AIG will not cover coronavirus-related claims.
Note that COVID-19 has been deemed officially a "known event" since 30 Jan 2020 by AIG, so all claims arising from the outbreak will not be entertained from that date onwards. For policies bought before 30 Jan, AIG will review your claims according to the policy terms and conditions.
Allianz Travel has a straightforward blanket rule for all travel insurance policies (regardless of destination). As long as it was issued from 22 Jan 2020 onwards, Allianz will not cover trip cancellations to any countries in relation to COVID-19.
For Allianz travel insurance policies bought before 22 Jan, the insurer will deal with claims based on the terms and conditions of the policy.
Aviva travel insurance has one of the earliest cut-off dates for their blanket no-coverage rule: 20 Jan 2020.
If you bought your Aviva travel insurance policy before 20 Jan 2020, you may be able to claim for events related to the virus outbreak. Otherwise, tough luck, although all other events (unrelated to COVID-19) are still covered.