Does My Insurance Cover the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19?
The recent news of DORSCON Code Orange brought about panic buying of groceries and wiping out shelves of toilet paper. While the government has assured our citizens not to start panicking, it’s hard not to be concerned about ways in which the COVID-19 may affect us.
Recently, I’ve started receiving calls and texts from my clients about the types of insurance that are able to provide coverage for COVID-19 related conditions.
“If I cancel my holiday now, will I get covered?”
“Someone in my work building just got quarantined, if I do too, will I get coverage?”
As the days went by, I kept receiving similar questions that most people have when it comes to medical, hospitalization and travel insurance with regards to COVID-19.
Here are the 4 most common questions that I’ve been asked and the answers I have for them:
Q1: Does my travel insurance cover for trip cancellations?
A: The outbreak of COVID-19 has seen a drop in tourism around the world as people scramble to cancel their flights and hotel bookings. However, your travel insurance provider will not cover for your cancelled trips unless you made a booking to mainland China before 22 January 2020.
For trips to the rest of the world, you can only successfully get covered if you have been issued a compulsory quarantine order, been diagnosed with the virus or if COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic at the place of destination by the World Health Organization(WHO). As of now, there is no need to frantically call off your long-waited vacations. Personally, I’d suggest you go ahead and pack your suitcases, keep in mind basic hygiene practices and have a great time!
Q2: How about my medical expenses overseas?
A: Yes, you will be covered if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 if your place of travel is not to mainland China.
Q3: Are my pre/post hospitalization expenses covered by my insurance?
A: The government has announced that they will pay for the hospital bills incurred for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. This might raise some questions as to type of expenses it refers to. It is essential to know that this does not include outpatient treatment, such as pre-hospitalization treatment (e.g consultation done with general practitioners or private hospitals).
This is where your private insurance comes into the picture. The following are 2 scenarios;
Scenario 1: Janice went for a consultation at her local GP prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19, and was subsequently admitted into the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. As such, her hospitalization bills will be paid for by the government. In this case, her financial planner was not made aware of her situation and did not set up a claims file. Janice has to remember to inform her provider that she was admitted to the hospital after the consultation, so that the necessary claims can be made for her pre-hospitalization treatment, which is the visit to her GP.
Scenario 2: George sought treatment for the flu at a private hospital and was then warded in a government hospital before being diagnosed with COVID-19 after a few days. In his case, the usual claims procedure will follow as the insurer has already set up a claims file following his hospitalization.
Q4: I understand that hospitalization is covered in the case that I contract the disease. Is there a chance that I will be excluded?
A: It is also important to note that using your personal insurance, you may not be guaranteed a claim for hospitalization expenses if you have an exclusion based on a pre-existing medical condition, such as one related to your respiratory system.
As a financial planner, I often have to remind my clients that insurance is always there to back them up for unknown or accidental events. Therefore, most policies contain deliberate exclusions for pandemic or epidemic situations. I would suggest revising your policy wording or checking your provider websites for the relevant FAQs.
Another exclusion to take note of in your policy documents is related to test or experimental drugs. Most life insurance policies have stated that medical trials, with or without a clinical trial certificate from Health Sciences Authority (HSA) are not covered. This is one of the things you have to take note of before opting for or accepting to receive drugs that are on trial. In some cases that I know of, the pharmaceutical companies will pay for it but this does still differ from a case to case basis.
Most of the people I know tend to forget about their insurance the moment they have purchased it, be it last week, 6 months ago or even 5 years ago. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it will be good to review with your financial planner the exact details of your policies so as to be prepared for any unexpected scenarios.
To get a better understanding of the points I just went through, you can listen to this podcast on a recent radio interview I did with on Money FM with Michelle Martin on “Money and Me: Does your Insurance cover the COVID 19 Coronavirus Disease 2019?”
My interviews with Michelle Martin from 89.3FM.
You can listen to all the podcast recordings HERE.
Otherwise, stay healthy, stay vigilant and stay insured!
Article by Pamela Chong
The writer is a Associate Manager representing GEN Financial Advisory