When interstate borders close, does travel insurance cover you?

Travelling during COVID-19 can be frustrating, with lockdowns, snap border closures, hotspots and more having the potential to derail any carefully planned trip: but if your plans are disrupted, does travel insurance cover you?

As it happens, that all depends on the circumstances, whether the issue affects you alone or the broader community, and of course, what your policy covers.

The first step before any claim is always to approach your travel providers (or your travel agent, if you used one), as this may avoid a claim altogether.

Airlines and hotels are often very generous when it comes to changes and cancellations due to COVID-19, with Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Rex all providing extra flexibility.

For other expenses such as pre-paid car hire, airport parking, activity bookings, live shows and more, contact each company to discuss your options, if you can’t manage your booking online.

While you might not qualify for a full cash refund, you may be able to shift your bookings to new dates or receive a credit instead: also avoiding an insurance claim.

Step two: get ready for a travel insurance claim

If you haven’t been able to change your plans or receive a credit or refund, it’s time to investigate your travel insurance options.

Most insurers require written proof that you’ve been refused a refund or credit before a claim can be processed, so gather any emails you’ve sent and received on this, and you don’t have this already, ask each travel supplier to note their decision in writing.

You’ll also want to track down the receipt or itinerary from when you made your initial booking, and if you used a credit card, the relevant credit card statement or transaction record.

If you’re part-way through a journey, it never hurts to keep your boarding passes either: and if you’ve already incurred extra costs to change your plans mid-trip, you’ll want those receipts, too.

Step three: submit your insurance claim

The success of any claim is never guaranteed. Even if your insurer covers events relating to COVID-19, there may still be exclusions or conditions.

Covermore, for example, may cover travellers if they can’t leave home or need to isolate at a destination after being identified as a ‘close contact’ of a COVID-19 case (or getting COVID themselves), but being caught up in a general border closure wouldn’t normally be covered.

Handy hint: If you have a Gold, Platinum or Black credit card, don’t forget about any travel insurance cover that may be available via that card.

That’s especially true if the insurance underwriter of that credit card policy is different to the insurer of any standalone policy you may also have, as each may cover different things.

Hopefully, your interstate trips go according to plan: but if they don’t, having travel insurance can be a great backup.

Also read: Hiring a car? Your AMEX Platinum card may not cover you

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

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