By Casey Oneill on 11 February 2020

The current outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31st December 2019. This outbreak has since been reported widely in the media and by authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), and it continues to make headlines around the world. 

The detail below is provided as a guide to cover eligibility in respect of Columbus Direct policies (for Australian residents) and the novel coronavirus outbreak. Cover under each policy will be dependent on a number of things including the date the policy was purchased (or trip was booked, whichever is the later), the destination of travel and Australian government travel advisories. Cover is subject to the standard policy terms and claims will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Some general points:

  • If you purchased a policy or booked a trip after 31st January 2020 there will be no cover for Coronavirus under any section of the policy.
  • On 31st January 2020, the WHO deemed this event an international health emergency. As of that date we consider this to be a known event globally. As such there will be no cover for any claims related to the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) for any policy purchased or trip booked after that date.

  • There is no cover under any section of a policy if you travel to an area or country for which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advisory is at Level 4 (Do Not Travel), even if you purchased the policy prior. 

    If you purchased your policy before a DFAT travel advisory was increased to a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) warning, we advise you in the first instance to contact your airline, accommodation and tour providers immediately to assess your cancellation or rescheduling entitlements. For any outstanding out of pocket expenses, you should submit a claim.

    You should check the DFAT website for the latest advisories

  • There is no cover under any section of a policy if you remain in a region or country for which the DFAT advisory rose to Level 4 (Do Not Travel) while you were there, if you were able to leave but instead opted to remain.

Cover by section:

The sections of our policy that provide cover in relation to an epidemic are outlined below, however you should read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for the full policy cover, terms and conditions. The cover noted is based on your meeting eligibility criteria around the outbreak including those outlined above.

  • Overseas Medical Expenses (PDS page 10) – provided you purchased your policy before this outbreak was deemed a known event (31st January 2020 globally, or earlier for destinations within China) and you didn’t travel to, or remain in, an area or country where the DFAT travel advisory is at Level 4 (Do Not Travel), normal cover terms and conditions will apply should you contract the virus whilst there. There is no cover for any medical or any other quarantine costs incurred within Australia. This includes costs related to your being quarantined prior to your official entry.
  • Cancellation (PDS page 9) – provides certain cover for irrecoverable travel and accommodation costs in the event your trip is necessarily and unavoidably cancelled prior to its commencement as a result of a regulation from the Australian government following an epidemic that prevents you from travelling - ie. a DFAT Level 4 (Do Not Travel) advice - at the date your trip commences.

    NOTE: reasonable costs of rescheduling your trip will be considered if you would otherwise have had to cancel, provided those costs are not greater than the irrecoverable cancellation fees or lost deposits.

  • Curtailment (PDS page 9) - provides certain cover for a proportionate refund of your irrecoverable pre-paid costs in the event you necessarily curtail your trip to return to Australia due to your serious illness, or a regulation from the Australian government.
  • Catastrophe (PDS page 13) - provides certain cover for irrecoverable travel and accommodation expenses necessarily incurred should you be forced to move from your pre-booked accommodation to continue your trip, or, if the trip cannot be continued, to return home as a result of a medical epidemic or local government directive which is confirmed in writing by local or national authority.

If you have any questions relating to an existing policy, please contact us to discuss.

If you are overseas and have a medical emergency, please contact our medical emergency assistance helpline.


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