Thursday, February 27, 2020

Insuring Corona

No, sillies, not that corona, the coronavirus (aka COVID-19). As we noted the other day in our trip cancellation insurance post (and referenced yesterday in our latest travel medical insurance item), the disease and, more specifically, the threat it represents has become quite the hot button: lots of news articles about ships and planes being quarantined or re-routed, whole cities appellant on lockdown., and (of course) the travel and toruism industries are taking a big hit.

From an insurance perspective, there are of course a host of different issues, but this post will focus on the travel medical side. To that end, I reached out to our good friends at Global Underwriters, and FoIB Peter S provided me some much-needed and extremely helpful clarification.

For one thing, he taught me a new (and quite important) phrase: "known/public events." That is, those things that are either completely new or had previously flown under the radar becoming quite well known. And one can hardly think of a better recent example of this than the current coronavirous situation. As we noted in yesterday's post, pre-existing conditions are generally excluded under travel medical plans, but that's not really relevant here: this is so new that it's unlikely there were many insureds who had contracted the disease prior to buying coverage. So that clause wouldn't likely come into play.

But now that the disease is "out on the wild," that phrase ("known/public event") carries a whole new weight: as Peter says, "[r]emember that known/public events (e.g. coronavirus) are not insurable. Bottom line, you’re going to have a bunch of disappointed customers that didn’t read the fine print or exclusion section of a particular policy."

I also asked him about med-evac coverage (since this is usually included in travel medical policies). My question related to the possibility that one might be evacuated but then turned away from one's home country due to being diagnosed with the virus (or maybe just suspected of having it). There's a whole can of worms, of course: as Peter told me, "[o]bviously, we can’t evac someone that is being quarantined. But we would pay Evac & Repat expenses associated with their eventual release."

So there's that.

We'll likely have more as this develops, so stay tuned.
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