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Does your Insurance cover the Coronavirus?

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the Maltese Islands, the population is becoming increasingly worried, not only about their health and safety, but also about the economic implications brought about by the pandemic. Many burning questions revolve around one theme in particular; insurance. The public are unsure of how their various insurance policies deal with Covid-19.

At the outset, it must be stated that this Article will speak in general terms and that each insurance policy must be examined in its own light.

The first thing that one should examine is whether the insurance policy contains any general exclusions. A general exclusion is an exclusion against a specified event, circumstance or activity that will apply over the entire policy, irrespective of when the policy was purchased. Therefore, if a general exclusion applies, the policy will not cover you for such specified event, circumstance or activity. On this note, all insurance policies are different and must be examined in their own light.

Is the coronavirus considered to be an epidemic or pandemic? Again, different policies may contain different definitions. Therefore, we must refer to the definition given in the particular policy. However, generally speaking, Covid-19 will most likely be treated as a pandemic, as currently categorised by the World Health Organisation.

Travel Insuarance

Do Travel Insurance Policies have a general exclusion for a pandemic?

One must examine their policy to search for any exclusions for claims arising from, related to or associated with an actual or likely epidemic/pandemic. Such exclusions are commonly found in travel insurance policies. Therefore, if one has paid for a trip and wishes to cancel such trip for reasons related to or arising from the coronavirus (e.g travelling to an infected area/ doctor recommended not to travel/ travelling with children etc.), then the general exclusion for pandemics/epidemics will apply and the cover is excluded. Having said that, some insurance companies are establishing a cut off date and are covering claims arising from cancelled trips planned before said cut off date but excluding trips planned after such date.

What happens if one travels to a country affected by the Coronavirus?

If one travels to a country affected by the coronavirus, the validity of their claim will be determined by whether or not such claim directly or indirectly related to Covid-19. Provided that your insurance policy contains a general exclusion for epidemics/pandemics then your claim will only be covered if it is unrelated to the coronavirus.  What if you go on your trip and contract Covid-19? Again, it is fairly possible that the general exclusion applies and that your travel insurance policy will not cover you. What if you are quarantined and losing income? The same principles apply. If you are quarantined due to the Covid-19 outbreak, then the general exclusions likely apply and therefore means that you will not be covered.

Life Insurance

With Covid-19 continuing to spread, people are concerned whether their life insurance will pay out if they get the coronavirus. Generally speaking, existing life insurance policies will pay out in the unfortunate circumstance that one contracts the virus and passes away. Most insurers prepare for the losses that a pandemic may bring and there don’t tend to be exclusions in most Life Insurance Policies. With regards to new life insurance policies, it is likely that insurers will have implemented specific policies in place as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and that such policies may look to exclude covering deaths arising from the coronavirus.

Private Health Insurance

Will your Private Health Insurance Policy cover you if you are diagnosed with the Coronavirus?

Generally speaking, your healthcare benefits will apply as normal if you’re diagnosed with the coronavirus.  If you need out-patient care, you will need to have out-patient cover included on your policy. Notably, there may be local restrictions in place around travelling or around which hospitals are able to treat the virus. One must look into the specific policy to see whether there are any general exclusions which may not cover instances whereby one contracts the coronavirus whilst travelling to an affected country.

Article written by Dr Ivan Gatt and Legal Trainee Mr Gigi Gatt.

For more information or assistance on matters relating to insurance kindly contact Dr Ivan Gatt on igatt@gtgadvocates.com.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.