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Risk in Context

How are Australian travel insurers handling the COVID-19?

Posted by Isabel Tran 20 March 2020

As of 19 March 2020, the Australian Government via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has held their travel advice for all overseas travel as DO NOT TRAVEL.

The escalation to Level 4 travel restrictions is highest possible advice level registered by DFAT and marks an unpresented time for Australians looking to travel or currently travelling.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has recently stated that Australian consular staff are working around the clock to try and help the thousands of Australian’s abroad as flights are cancelled and travel restricted around world.

Expectedly, this has implications for travellers and their insurance policies. According to the National Insurance Brokers Association of Australia:

  • If government issues a ‘do not travel’ advice as a result of a pandemic, travel insurance may cover a traveller for trip cancellation costs, depending on when the policy was purchased and what general exclusions the policy contains relating to claims for pandemic or epidemic. 
  • If an Australian who is already travelling falls ill as a result of a pandemic, their travel insurance may cover medical treatment overseas and a medical evacuation to Australia if covered by their policy.
  • Many travel insurance policies do explicitly exclude any claims related to pandemics. Once a traveller returns to Australia, or if symptoms only present on home soil, the traveller is covered by Medicare.

Policy wordings vary amongst different insurers. Therefore, it is imperative for businesses and individuals to read through their full policy wordings, and review in detail the terms and conditions in order to have a deep understanding of the scope of cover and how your policy may or may not respond to a COVID-19 related claim.

It is also important to closely monitor the government’s position and guidelines on this rapidly involving situation. The Australian Government via DFAT is consistently reviewing travel messaging through their smartraveller website.

For the latest updates on coverage issues including recent responses from various insurers across Australia on previous travel claims restrictions, please visit:

DFAT’s urgent consular assistance line can be reached on the following numbers:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
  • 1300 555 135 from within Australia
  • +61 421 269 080 from SMS

If you have any queries related to your travel insurance, please reach out to a Marsh representative. 

Isabel Tran

Technical Services Manager

"Marsh Pty Ltd (ABN 86 004 651 512, AFSL 238983) (“Marsh”) arrange this insurance and is not the insurer. The Discretionary Trust Arrangement is issued by the Trustee, JLT Group Services Pty Ltd (ABN 26 004 485 214, AFSL 417964) (“JGS”). JGS is part of the Marsh group of companies. Any advice in relation to the Discretionary Trust Arrangement is provided by Jardine Lloyd Thompson Pty Ltd (ABN 69 009 098 864, AFSL 226 827) which is a related entity of Marsh. The cover provided by the Discretionary Trust Arrangement is subject to the Trustee’s discretion and/or the relevant policy terms, conditions and exclusions.

This website contains general information, does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs and may not suit your personal circumstances. For full details of the terms, conditions and limitations of the covers and before making any decision about whether to acquire a product, refer to the specific policy wordings and/or Product Disclosure Statements available from Marsh on request.