Coronavirus: Will you be covered by travel insurance?

You can still get protection for upcoming international travel.
You can still get protection for upcoming international travel. Photo credit: Getty Images

As the coronavirus outbreak continues, there's no hard and fast rule on whether or not you'll be covered by your travel insurance policy.

But two of the main factors that'll decide if you do or don't get a payout are where you're travelling and when you booked your travel insurance.

In late January, the COVID-19 outbreak became what's referred to in the travel insurance industry as a 'known event'. This essentially means from that point on, insurers could exclude any costs linked to the 'known event' from its policies.

The 'known event' rule is easier to understand when it relates to a more time-specific event like a volcanic eruption. If you booked your travel insurance before the eruption, any costs incurred because of it can usually be claimed. If you purchased your policy after the eruption, then your policy will likely say that any volcano-related expenses can not be claimed back.

For Southern Cross, coronavirus became a known event at 2pm on January 31, for example, while for Tower Insurance it was 5pm on January 24.

If you're yet to make your travel plans or buy insurance for an upcoming trip, you can still get cover for some coronavirus-related costs, within reason. It depends where you're going and what policy you choose from which company.

Be sure to contact the insurance provider and ask what options they offer, specifically related to coronavirus, before you buy a policy.

If you have existing travel plans that are cancelled by the airline or travel operator, then you are likely to be covered by your travel insurance policy. However, if you cancel your plans out of your own concern over coronavirus, insurance providers are unlikely to reimburse you for the cost of the trip.

Allianz Travel Insurance says the outcome of a claim could depend heavily on when it was purchased.

"For customers booking trips to China and other impacted areas, the coronavirus became a known event on January 22, travel protection plans generally exclude losses caused by events that were known or foreseeable at the time the plan is purchased," the company's website says.

"Customers who purchased their plan prior to January 22 may still have coverage for a covered loss for a trip booked to China or other impacted areas."

The coronavirus outbreak is another reminder to book travel insurance at the same time you book your travel, so you won't be caught out when the next 'known event' takes place.

At the time of publishing, COVID-19 has killed more than 3200 people with more than 95,000 cases reported worldwide.