We Malaysians love to travel. Travelling has slowly become a need, instead of a want.
You have booked a travel package to Shanghai, but due to the Wuhan Virus outbreak, you’re afraid you may catch the virus in the plane. If you cancel the trip, can your insurance cover the flight and accommodation cost?
Last week, I published an article regarding if we can claim our life insurance if the Wuhan Virus hit us. With the recent announcement made by LIAM (Life Insurance Association of Malaysia), I think it is safe to say that most, if not all major insurance company will cover the hospitalization and treatment cost for the outbreak.
However, I did not have enough information to write about Travel Insurance. Even now, at the time of writing, we have yet to receive any directions from PIAM (Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia) with regards to travel insurance.
(Note: LIAM and PIAM are different associations looking over Life Insurance and General Insurance respectively).
Throughout the week, we received internal memo and notice from multiple General Insurance Companies relating to Travel Insurance and the Wuhan Virus, however, these notices are too vague and may raise further questions…
Except for one company…
Big thanks to my good colleague, Clarence Lim, he shared with me this announcement made by AXA Affin General Insurance Berhad recently. Even though this may only be applicable to AXA Affin’s client, this may give us a glimpse on whether if we can claim from our travel insurance.
Disclaimer: As mentioned, the following content is written from information obtain from AXA Affin’s website. If you bought from another company, you must check with your company if they cover the Wuhan Virus.
However, this article will serve as a good guide for you to ask the correct questions when you are calling your respective insurance company.
Travel insurance comes in many forms. Some with basic coverage, some with extended coverage; some covers for a single trip, some covers all trips within the whole year. Just like any other insurance, it is wise to read through what is covered and what is not. In this article, I will be using AXA Affin’s Travel Insurance as a base.
One of the benefits found in AXA Affin’s Travel Insurance is the “Loss of Deposit or Cancellation” benefit. Under this benefit, AXA Affin will reimburse you (the insured person) for the loss of irrecoverable charges paid due to an unexpected and an unavoidable event.
In simple words, if you cancel your trip due to an unforeseen event, you may submit a claim to the company to reimburse for your flight or accommodation cost.
23 January 2020
This is an important date to remember if you purchase a travel insurance. 23 January 2020 is the date whereby authorities in China had escalated the matter and lockdown measures have been put in place to control the widespread of the virus.
Insurance companies (including AXA Affin, QBE and Chubb) have considered the incident in China to be a “known event”.
Therefore, if you purchase the travel insurance on 23 January 2020 or later and wish to cancel the trip, you will not be covered by the travel insurance.
In other words, if you purchased the travel insurance before 23 January 2020, AXA Affin will honour the policies, provided that you can obtain a written confirmation from your Airline/Hotel/Travel Operator, confirming the non-refundable prepaid cost of your ticket and/or accommodation.
However, there are 2 scenarios whereby even if you bought your policy before 23 January 2020, you can not claim for the cost of cancellation.
If the travel date is 14 days or lesser from the date of purchase.
Regardless of the Wuhan Virus, this was clearly stated in the insurance policy, the company will not pay any loss of deposit or cancellation if the insurance is purchased not less than 14 days prior to the commencement of the scheduled trip.
If you purchased an annual travel policy.
Despite purchasing an annual travel policy before 23 January 2020, you MAY not claim for the cost of cancellation if your travel date is after 23 January 2020.
(I capitalized the word “may” is because this wasn’t explicit in AXA Affin’s website. I included scenario 2 is because it was mentioned in the notice and memo from other insurance companies. If you have more information, or if you’re from AXA Affin, please let me know if my assumption is accurate?)
If you paid for a trip to Japan, and you are worried to catch the virus in the airport, unfortunately, you cannot claim from the Lost of Deposit and Cancellation benefit. According to AXA Affin, they will cover any trip cancellation claims to “Wuhan and other areas of People’s Republic of China that may be affected”.
This may change if the outbreak is not controlled and more countries are affected.
However, should you proceed with your travel to, say Japan and caught the Virus (touch wood), you can claim from the “Medical, Hospital Other Expenses” benefit. AXA Affin will also reimburse the follow up treatment within 90 days upon return to Malaysia.
If you have the VIP Plan from AXA Affin, you will also be paid RM200 for each full day you are quarantined as a result of a pandemic infleunza.
I recommend that you take a look at AXA Affin’s announcement for more information. I copied their FAQ below for your convenience.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”64px”][vc_toggle title=”1. Can I cancel my trip to the scheduled destination and request for a refund of the trip?” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]Under the Loss of Deposit or Cancellation benefit, we will reimburse the insured person for loss of irrecoverable charges paid, provided that the claims were made against relevant parties prior to making claims against us whereby we will pay the portion that is not compensated by the relevant parties, up to the benefit limit stated in your Policy Schedule and subject to the policy conditions stated above.[/vc_toggle][vc_empty_space][vc_toggle title=”2. What if I decide to postpone my trip to a later date but had to incur additional costs due to the postponement of trip (e.g. airline/hotel penalty). Will these costs be reimbursable under the policy?” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]
We will reimburse you for additional charges levied in relation to any prepaid costs paid by you due to the change of travel dates, up to the benefit limit stated in your Policy Schedule, and subject to policy conditions and exclusions.
[/vc_toggle][vc_empty_space][vc_toggle title=”3. If I do not want to proceed with my trip but my policy was purchased in less than 14 days from my trip commencement date. Can I cancel my policy and request for refund of premium?” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]
If you have purchased an annual travel policy, you may request for a refund on the premium based on customary short period rate. On the other hand, for single travel policy there is no refund once Certificate/Policy Insurance is issued.
[/vc_toggle][vc_empty_space][vc_toggle title=”4. If I have departed for my trip overseas but have decided to return to Malaysia due to the travel warning on the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) occurring at my intended destination, can I make a claim under Travel Curtailment Benefit?” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]
Yes, you can claim under Travel Curtailment Benefit if you cut short your trip and return to Malaysia. We will reimburse for the unexpired irrecoverable prepaid cost from the date of your arrival back to Malaysia, up to the benefit limit stated in your Policy Schedule.
[/vc_toggle][vc_empty_space][vc_toggle title=”5. What if I have travelled and the incident/ travel warning was issued but I continue to stay at my current destination OR continue to travel to a different (unaffected) location/destination, can I still claim for the cancelled portion (i.e. purchased accommodation, rental vehicle, ground tour etc.)?” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]
No, you are not eligible to claim unless you come back to Malaysia immediately when the travel warning/ alerts were issued and you can claim under “trip curtailment” benefit.
[/vc_toggle][vc_empty_space][vc_toggle title=”6. If I am stranded in overseas due to closure of airport & etc. and am not able to return to Malaysia within the prescribed period of insurance, will coverage of the policy be automatically extended until my return to Malaysia?” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]
At present, we have a specific provision on automatic extension of coverage of 30 days which has to be due to unavoidable delay of the scheduled common carrier in which the insured is travelling on resulting in the insured being unable to complete the trip within the period of insurance.
[/vc_toggle][vc_empty_space][vc_toggle title=”7. If I am stranded in overseas due to cancellation of my return flight back to Malaysia, will the additional costs incurred for accommodation, transportation & other necessities be covered?” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]
There is no provision under the policy to reimburse for the additional costs incurred.
We will compensate under the travel delay from the time specified in the Itinerary supplied to you up to the actual departure time of your return flight to Malaysia. We will pay RM200 for the first six (6) complete hours of delay and RM300 for each complete six (6) hours thereafter up to the limit stated in the Schedule of Benefits. This Benefits is not applicable to Classic Plan.
[/vc_toggle][vc_empty_space][vc_toggle title=”8. Does the medical benefit cover treatment/ hospitalization for Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)” custom_font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” custom_use_theme_fonts=”yes” use_custom_heading=”true”]
Yes, the policy covers treatment/ hospitalization caused by Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Here’s the reminder again, this only applies to you if you have bought your travel insurance from AXA Affin. However, this serves as a good guide if you have a travel insurance from any insurance company.
As a summary, as long as you purchase a travel insurance before 23 January 2020, heading to China, I don’t think you have much to worry about. You may choose to cancel your vacation and the insurance company will compensate the non-refundable cost.
However, if you bought your travel insurance on or after 23 January 2020, or you are travelling to a place other than China, then you will need to make the decision to take the risk or not. You may still claim from the medical treatment if you are contracted with the Virus, but I would rather avoid it in the first place.
I hate to do this again, but every insurance policy is different. Please check with your insurance company or your agent to understand what your policy covers. Also let me know what other concerns you have regarding to the Wuhan Virus and Insurance. I can be reached on FB, Insta, or my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Virus, I stumbled upon this cool website. This is a community-based project powered by volunteers to keep track of the latest news development about the Wuhan Virus. Do check them out.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]