What your travel insurance will and won't cover if COVID-19 affects a trip to Australia

As we approach 'Bubble Day' with Australia, New Zealanders may be wondering what their options are when it comes to being insured when taking a trip across the Tasman Sea.

As exciting as a travel bubble might be after a year of closed borders, an outbreak and resulting lockdown could mean a holiday in Aussie costs you several thousand dollars more than you've budgeted for, even if you are insured.

According to Allianz Partners - which issues and manages travel insurance for a number of partners including AA Travel, House of Travel, First Travel Group and Helloworld - there is no cover for "general travel disruptions" due to COVID-19.

Allianz Partners CEO Kevin Blyth says the pandemic means "travel to Australia and the Cook Islands is no longer just a quick flight, but instead something that now has more factors to consider".

So, if Auckland goes into lockdown while I'm visiting Australia, will travel insurance cover my costs?

Essentially, no.

"There is no cover for general travel disruptions or lockdowns, for example if there is a community case in Auckland and the whole city is ordered into lockdown," Blyth said.

Tim Grafton from the CE Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) says if you do get stuck due to a lockdown, it will be at your own cost.

"Border closures imposed by a government are not covered by any insurer as it is simply not possible to develop a product that accounts for the uncertainty and the level of risk this presents," Grafton said.

What you can get cover for: 

  • 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 can 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 can 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
  • 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

What you won't be covered for:

  • Cancellations to travel caused by government-imposed lockdowns
  • Costs if the government imposes a blanket quarantine
  • Travel delay caused by COVID-19
  • Border closures due to COVID-19
  • Travel to any other countries where there is still a 'do not travel' alert in place.

It's very important to note that each policy is different, so make sure you check or ask rather than assume what you will or won't be covered for.

However, being insured while travelling isn't just about COVID-19. All of the other valid reasons for travel insurance that existed before the pandemic are still around: lost luggage, injury or sickness, stolen or lost property.

Just because your insurance won't cover you in the case of a lockdown doesn't mean you shouldn't take out a policy.

Do you have any unanswered questions about the trans-Tasman bubble? Post a comment on our Newshub Travel Facebook group.