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Travel insurers may not cover travellers for coronavirus outbreak

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

As the coronavirus epidemic spreads, those travelling to China have been warned that many travel insurers may not cover their trips.

As the coronavirus epidemic spreads, those travelling to China have been warned that many travel insurers may not cover their trips.

The official DFAT advice related to the disease, is to 'reconsider your need to travel' to China overall and 'do not travel' to Hubei Province, which includes the centre of the outbreak, the city of Wuhan.

Lisa Kable from the Insurance Council of Australia said travellers should contact their insurers, as the date they bought their policy could be key to whether they're covered for either cancelling their trips or medical treatment if they catch the virus in China.

"DFAT raised its travel advice level on January 23, 2020 to advice level four, 'do not travel' for the affected Hubei region in China," Ms Kable told nine.com.au.

"Some travel insurance policies may cover travellers in the affected region for medical expenses related to coronavirus if they commenced their travel before the DFAT advisory was lifted.

"Some travel insurance policies may cover travellers who decide to cancel the remainder of their trip if they were already in the affected region before DFAT raised its travel advice to level four.

"With this advice level in place, travel insurance policies bought after the advice level was raised may not be covered by travel insurance due to the epidemic, pandemic, disease exclusion."

Many travel insurers detail on their websites what is and isn't covered.

They also advise that as airlines are cancelling flights to China and tour operators cancelling trips to the area, travellers should initially contact them about refunds or changes.

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Insurers Covermore, Australia Post, AHM and Medibank said while there are exclusions over claims due to "an epidemic, pandemic or outbreak of an infectious disease", travellers who catch the virus overseas will be covered for medical treatment if their policy includes that.

Fastcover said it will "consider" cancellation and medical claims for travellers who left before January 24.

However, if travellers opt to travel to China now, amid the DFAT advice, and get the disease, they won't be covered for medical expenses, the firm said.

Policies bought after January 24 also won't cover coronavirus-related claims, it said.

Qantas travel insurance said it will no longer cover any event related to coronavirus for travel to or from China on policies bought after 6am on 23 January.

Online Travel Insurance, part of Allianz Partners, said there would be "exclusions or limits on cover" relating to the disease on any policies bought after January 24 for travel to Wuhan, or January 29 for the rest of China.

Tour operators are now cancelling trips to China, or offering customers the chance to change trips.

Flight Centre said it is waiving cancellation or change fees for its China tours, with upcoming trips cancelled.

Wendy Woo Tours Australia said on Facebook it is contacting customers travelling in February to make alternative arrangements.

Travel company Intrepid has also cancelled all China trips in February.

For the latest advice, visit smartraveller.gov.au.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-does-travel-insurance-cover-coronavirus-china/0377b37b-e7dc-4d8d-ba5a-49c938f5eb76

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