I had a long and frustrating dialogue with ING today trying to get that “written confirmation” that claims related to COVID-19 Coronavirus are covered. In short, they didn’t give me that written confirmation and I think there’s every likelihood that coronavirus claims won’t be covered if the policies were taken out after January/February. But I’ll reproduce the dialogue in full below, and you can decide for yourself.
Me: Hi, if I take out an ING travel insurance policy now, for travel to Europe (not Italy), will it cover Coronavirus-related claims?
ING: As each claim is unique we are unable to pre-determine the outcome of a claim that has not happened. You may still be covered for ‘Cancellation and Amendment Fees’ if you decide to cancel or cut your trip short because a location in your planned itinerary is added or upgraded to the ‘Do Not Travel’ locations after the policy issue/purchase date and before your departure date on the Insurance Certificate. Please refer to page 19 of our Product Disclosure Statement for details on the inclusions/exclusions of the Cancellation and Amendment Fees cover.
Me: I’m more concerned about whether we’d be covered in the extremely unlikely event of COVID-19 related hospitalisation. We’re a couple [not in a high-risk age group]. Assuming we don’t go to a country which is rated “do not travel” or “reconsider your need to travel”, are you able to give me a straight answer: would we be covered for hospitalisation? I’m thinking of a comprehensive policy.
ING: AGS is covering the Novel CoronaVirus (COVID) and is assessing each claim on their merit and on a case by case basis in accordance with our Product Disclosure Statement, your claim will be assessed depending on factors such as your cover type, trip type, the section of our Product Disclosure Statement you are wanting to claim under and the documents you can provide us. Please note as per our Product Disclosure Statement, under General Exclusion number three, we will not cover any claim relating to an incident which you were aware of at the time you took out this insurance and which could reasonably be expected to lead to a claim.
Me: Thanks again. One more direct question: If I were to take out a policy right now, for travel to Europe, would ING consider COVID-19 to be “an incident which I was aware of at the time of taking out the insurance and which could reasonably be expected to lead to a claim”? I’m aware that under this wording you would not cover Italy. But what about other countries in Europe? I’m sorry to press you on this but I’m sure you would agree with me that ING has an ethical and legal obligation to clearly state what is and what is not covered!
ING: Thanks for your response. Claims relating to the Novel CoronaVirus (COVID) may be covered dependent on the exact circumstances and would be assessed subject to the terms, conditions, limits and exclusions of the policy. Without having the details of the circumstances leading to an actual claim, we are unable to provide a definitive claims decision. Thanks.
That was the dialogue. My somewhat cynical, but I believe realistic, take: ING, unlike most other insurance companies, hasn’t comprehensively ruled out covering COVID-19 claims, but if you do make a claim, and you took out the policy after it became news, they could and probably would refuse to pay based on COVID being “an incident which you were aware of at the time you took out this insurance”. Caveat emptor!