As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation progresses around the world, an increasing number of countries are closing their borders or calling their citizens to return home.
While this is happening, there are still travelers who are either stranded in places like Bali or South America, or who have simply chosen not to return home just yet. Among those travelers still abroad, many are wondering if their travel insurance covers coronavirus related issues, such as doctor’s visits, treatment, prescription drugs, canceled flights, or quarantine-related expenses. And if they don’t have travel insurance, is it too late to purchase a travel insurance plan?
The short answer: it depends.
At the moment, the situation is fluid, to say the least, and coronavirus policies vary from company to company. To hopefully provide some clarity, we took a look at two of the most popular travel insurance companies – SafetyWing and World Nomads to see how their insurance covers the coronavirus.
Does SafetyWing Cover the Coronavirus?
SafetyWing policies typically provide coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs while traveling.
Fortunately, according to SafetyWing’s coronavirus page, SafetyWing does not have any exclusions for pandemics or epidemics built into their policies. Instead, SafetyWing bases its coronavirus coverage on travel warnings issued by the CDC (The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
This is potentially good news for travelers, as it means that if you’re insured by SafetyWing, you are eligible for treatment for coronavirus. However, there are a few exceptions based on the CDC’s warnings. You are not eligible for coronavirus coverage from Safetywing if:
- The CDC has issued a warning level 3 for your location and you arrive there or purchase your policy after the warning had been issued.
- The CDC has issued a warning level 3 for your location while you were already there and more than 10 days have passed since the warning went into effect. This means that once a warning level 3 has been issued for your area, you have 10 days until you are no longer covered for coronavirus treatment in that country. If your location is removed from warning level 3, you are eligible for coverage 6 months after the warning for that country has been removed.
The CDC is regularly updating its travel warnings. To see which countries are currently at a level 3 warning, consult the CDC Travel Health Notices page.
Does World Nomads Cover the Coronavirus?
World Nomads travel insurance goes beyond just medical insurance. World Nomads insurance also typically covers a wide range of travel-related occurrences, such as medical costs, delayed baggage, emergency dental costs, trip cancelations, and electronics.
As for coronavirus coverage, World Nomads does not have an endemic or pandemic exclusion for policies purchased by U.S. residents. However, similar to SafetyWing, it’s not that straight forward.
According to the World Nomads coronavirus FAQ page, policyholders can submit claims for themselves or a travel companion who contracts the COVID-19 or goes under quarantine when traveling. Benefits are based on your policy and can include emergency medical care and trip interruption coverage.
In the event of things like border closings or travel bans, policies may include travel delay coverage if scheduled transportation is set back for at least six hours.
However, don’t start submitting that claim just yet.
World Nomads also states that coverage does not apply when travel warnings or travel bans are announced and advises travelers to consult the trip cancellation section of their own policy to see which specific events are covered.
Can I Get Travel Insurance Coverage if I'm Still Abroad?
With Safetywing, coverage can still be purchased at any given time, even if you're already overseas. Your insurance will remain completely valid with the exception that they no longer cover COVID-19 treatment, as the whole world is a level 3 warning.
As for World Nomads, they’ve temporarily suspended sales on all travel insurance plans for all countries with the exception of America. If you’re American and you purchase a policy through World Nomads USA, you could still receive benefits for losses covered by the plan if you, your travel companion or a family member were to become sick (after you purchase the plan) as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
What to Do if You’re Still Abroad?
It’s not advisable to travel internationally at the moment. If you’re already abroad, your best bet is to contact your insurer and see how they can assist you, as things are changing daily.
Beyond that, do your best to stay in place and make sure that you’re up to date on lockdowns and border closures. Below are some relevant links to help you stay informed.
BY: JESSE NEUGARTEN, CEO & FOUNDER
Jesse originally founded Dollar Flight Club in 2016 to harness his flight finding skills for friends and family. Years later, Jesse and the Dollar Flight Club team parse through the data to deliver the best flight deals to their more than 1,000,000 members. His favorite recent destinations of choice have been Greece, Mexico, France, and Sweden.