13 Apr - 10 min read
Malaysia has finally reopened its international borders from 1 April 2022 after more than two years of closure. This means that our nation will once again welcome travellers from abroad without quarantine requirements, provided they meet entry requirements.
At the same time, more countries around the world are doing the same, which means we too may be seriously contemplating travelling abroad once more. While fully vaccinated individuals have been allowed to travel abroad freely since October 2021, overseas flight options were often limited and expensive, and travellers were also required to bear the heavy cost of quarantining at the destination country and at home when they return. This has deterred many from going abroad, but as global restrictions gradually lift, this will no longer be an issue.
So, if you’re ready to travel abroad again, that’s great! But with Covid-19 still a concern, your travel essentials should now also include getting travel insurance that specifically comes with Covid-19 coverage. What exactly does a travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage offer, though? And is it absolutely necessary?
Let’s break it down.
Prior to Covid-19, the purpose of travel insurance was chiefly to protect policyholders from mishaps when they travel. This offers some financial peace of mind in the event of unfortunate circumstances, such as accidents, medical emergencies, and travel inconveniences such as flight or baggage delays as well as missed connections or cancellations.
In this post-Covid world, however, travel insurance has adopted a more regulatory role, with many governments making it an entry requirement for those who wish to enter their country. A good example, of course, is Malaysia itself.
With the reopening of international borders, the Malaysian government has stated that all short-term foreign travellers entering the country must possess a minimum insurance coverage of US$20,000 (approximately RM84,000). This is irrespective of their Covid-19 vaccination status (although there are some exceptions), and their policies must be able to cover treatment as well as hospitalisation costs if diagnosed positive for Covid-19.
Other countries that have also imposed similar requirements include Thailand, Vietnam, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Chile, and Egypt. Some nations even take it one step further by mandating that travellers must possess specific travel insurance that covers Covid-19. Aruba, for instance, requires all foreign travellers to purchase its government-issued Aruba Visitors Insurance even if you already have your own travel insurance policy.
In addition, you may also want to consider beyond the entry requirement of your destination, but also of any transits or stops in between (though in most cases it is only a mask mandate in major transit airports). As you can see, travel insurance has become more of a necessity today.
Travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage specifically offers additional coverage if you test positive for the virus during your trip, on top of the standard protection for your well-being, personal belongings, and financial expenses. Depending on the insurer, Covid-19 coverage may be offered as an add-on because standard travel insurance plans typically do not offer protection (or very limited protection) against epidemics and pandemics, or any related issues (such as quarantines or hospitalisation due to the epidemic or pandemic).
This is because when an event is declared as an epidemic or pandemic, it is generally also considered to be a “known” or foreseeable event; in other words, the occurrence has been publicised to you through media reports or government announcements, and you can take steps to avoid the event.
Once a known event is pronounced (on a certain date), you cannot purchase an insurance policy – which usually only covers the “unknown” – expecting it to cover you for said event. However, Covid-19 is a specific exemption to the pandemic exclusion clause, as the world continues to find a balance between health and safety and the global economy.
The scope of protection offered by a travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage will differ from insurer to insurer, with some being more comprehensive than the others. Most Covid-19 coverage will cover the following costs if you test positive for Covid-19 (on top of the usual coverage offered by standard travel insurance policies):
While these may be deemed sufficient, our recommendation is to look for insurers that also include quarantine allowance that provides a fixed daily allowance to cover for quarantine expenses. The reason is simple: the Omicron variant – combined with fully-vaccinated status – means it is unlikely that you will need to be hospitalised if you get infected. Further, many countries only require self-isolation if you test positive, which means you won’t be eligible for hospital allowance.
Of course, you should read the fine prints of your policy to get a clearer idea of the conditions that apply to each benefit.
Now that you’ve an idea of how travel insurance plans with Covid-19 coverage works, here are several insurers that are offering such plans in Malaysia. You can check them out and do a little comparison of your own!
*The benefits listed below are for individual plans, as opposed to family plans.
Depending on the plan that you opt for – Basic, Standard, or Deluxe – the AIG Travel Insurance’s Covid-19 coverage allows you to make claims for:
There is also a Starter plan that includes very limited benefits and no Covid-19 coverage, but this may not be the best plan for those who are looking to go abroad at this time.
Allianz has two travel insurance plans, namely Allianz Travel Easy and Allianz Travel Care. Both cover personal accident, medical expenses, and travel inconveniences – with Allianz Travel Care providing a higher amount of compensation (with higher premium too, of course).
With regard to Covid-19 coverage, neither plans explicitly state that they offer such protection, but they do include a Quarantine Cover (as a result of notifiable disease) as part of their medical-related benefits. Given that notifiable disease refers to any diseases that are required by law to be reported to government authorities, Covid-19 should qualify for the benefit as well. However, make sure to check in with an agent to confirm.
Under AXA Affin’s overseas travel insurance plans – consisting of AXA Travel Online and SmartTraveller Enhanced – you will have the option to include coverage for Covid-19 via its Pandemic Cover add-on.
Depending on which plan you purchase, the claim amount provided via the Pandemic Cover add-on will differ. For instance, if you opt for the AXA Travel Online plan (single trip), you will be entitled to the following if you’re diagnosed with Covid-19:
The SOMPO TravelSafe plan offers up to RM500,000 protection against Covid-19 related complications, along with other travel mishaps. Its benefits include overseas quarantine allowance (due to Covid-19) of up to RM2,000, travel curtailment claim of RM15,000, and travel cancellation claim of RM15,000.
Note that the plan is only applicable to fully vaccinated individuals with negative Covid-19 test results, approved by Malaysian authorities within 72 hours before departure.
Chubb’s travel insurance has been expanded to now include benefits that cover Covid-19 as well, offering:
Etiqa has up to six travel insurance plans to suit different needs, but for those who are travelling overseas (aside from Singapore), the TripCare 360 Insurance or TripCare 360 Takaful will be what you’ll need. Both plans provide Covid-19 coverage via an add-on that you can purchase, providing the following benefits:
Note that Etiqa follows the travel recommendation list laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stating that it does not cover destinations with epidemic or pandemic under Level 4.
Like many other insurers, MSIG’s TravelRight Plus also lets you add on Covid-19 coverage. Its benefits include:
Tune Protect has two plans that offer Covid-19 protection: COVID Lite Plan and COVID Plus Plan. The COVID Lite Plan offers fairly basic benefits, limited only to medical expenses (Stage 3 to 5 treatment; up to RM100,000) and emergency evacuation and repatriation (up to RM500,000).
Meanwhile, the COVID Plus Plan allows you the following benefits:
The Covid-19 optional add-on for Zurich’s Z-Travel Insurance (International) plan also offers coverage for several pandemic-related circumstances, namely:
With the world gradually reopening once more, there’s no doubt that the temptation to see the world again is there. But as you indulge the travel bug in you, your updated list of travel essentials should include purchasing travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage; these insurance plans are now more of a necessity than an option.
This is especially true for individuals who have been able to avoid getting infected by Covid-19 all this while as they may be more susceptible to it as compared to those who have already been exposed. Having appropriate coverage will no doubt provide some peace of mind, especially when you are in a foreign land.
Finally, if we’ve missed out on any insurers offering travel insurance plans with Covid-19 coverage, do let us know and we will update the list!
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