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COVID-19 & Insurance: What You Need to Know

Home Blog COVID-19 & Insurance: What You Need to Know

Inez Cooper

Managing Director

On 23 March 2021, the UK marked one year since the first coronavirus lockdown was announced. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19 are looking to insurance to help them through this difficult period.

What do you need to know about COVID-19 and insurance?

The insurance industry itself has been quick to respond: private health services in some countries are being used to help with the coronavirus effort.

We are here to help by answering questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on our insurance plans.

 

Update 24/05/2021: The coronavirus situation is constantly changing, so please check back for updates to this information.

COVID-19 and international life and income protection insurance

When COVID put our lives on hold, there were many people concerned about what protection they had available for them and their families should the worst happen. There were also a lot of questions about international life insurance and COVID vaccine in the UK and Australia. Here are the most commonly asked questions we received:

Our Silver and Gold Health plans will cover vaccinations, as long as they are administered in the country in which you are resident and are approved for use by the health authority of that country. However, our Life insurance policies don’t offer reimbursement for COVID-19 vaccines.

How to get a COVID vaccine as an expat

Yes, as long as you have complied with the terms and conditions of your plan.

We have experienced an increase in our life insurance policies for expats over the past 12 months in the UK and Australia. There are no limitations on your plans relating to COVID vaccines.

If you have a life plan from William Russell, you’re covered if you die as a result of infection by COVID-19 as you would be for any other viral infection.

Yes, as long as you are fully recovered with no ongoing symptoms. We may postpone your policy if you have been hospitalised or have symptoms.

Yes. Our underwriters would need to review the medical information provided on your application and any relevant reports, but having a vaccine would not prevent them from offering terms for a Life insurance policy.

If you have an income protection plan from William Russell, you’re covered if you’re totally unable to work for longer than the deferment period, as a result of an illness or injury. This would include an infection by COVID-19, provided you don’t have applicable personal medical exclusions on your certificate of insurance.

If you are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, then we will not offer terms until at least one month after you have recovered and are back to good health.

If you have been admitted to hospital due to COVID-19 or you have an underlying health condition then we will need to ask further questions regarding your symptoms, treatment, and recovery. Depending on the answers to these questions, there may be a further delay before we can offer terms.

There are geographical restrictions on some plans, you should refer to your plan agreement.

If you have questions or concerns about your William Russell policy – call our friendly team on +44 1276 486 477 and they will be happy to help you.

COVID-19 isn’t the only thing impacting expats
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Coronavirus and international health insurance

If you have a health insurance policy, you’re probably wondering what cover you have for COVID. Here are the most commonly asked questions we’ve received about our health plans:

If you have a health plan from William Russell, you’re covered for the treatment of COVID-19 as you would be for any other viral infection. This is provided that the plan you have selected covers the treatment and you don’t have personal medical exclusions on your certificate of insurance that would apply.

For example, if you have a personal medical exclusion for ‘respiratory conditions’ or any other condition that might be affected by Coronavirus, you wouldn’t be covered for the diagnosis and treatment of your excluded condition.

There are no changes to the cover provided while you are travelling. However, your ability to access services may be impacted by local conditions. Before you travel you should check that the plan you have selected includes cover in the countries you are travelling to. You should also check for limitations on cover and trip duration in case you need to extend your stay due to travel restrictions.

If you are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, then we will not offer cover until at least a month after you have recovered and are back to good health. If you have been admitted to hospital due to COVID-19, or you have an underlying health condition then we will need to ask further questions regarding your symptoms, treatment and recovery. Depending on the answers to these questions, there may be a further delay before we can offer terms.

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Yes, your right to renew your cover will not be affected if you have coronavirus.

If you need a private test, you may have cover for the cost of the test. Most testing programmes are run by national governments or local health authorities. To encourage maximum participation, tests are usually free.

If you have a SilverLite, Silver or Gold plan and you have symptoms of COVID-19, you’re covered for out-patient costs related to investigation, testing, and treatment of COVID-19, provided these are prescribed by a doctor. These costs are covered even if the test result is negative. The normal plan terms and conditions on excesses and co-insurances apply.

If you have a Silver or Gold plan and you’re not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you’re covered for the costs of a test under your well-being benefit. The normal plan terms and conditions on excesses, waiting periods, and co-insurances apply.

Sometimes a hospital may include a COVID-19 test as part of pre-operation screening. This is also covered under all health plans.

Most COVID-19 vaccination programmes are run by national governments or local health authorities. This encourages maximum participation and ensures that the most vulnerable or at risk are vaccinated first. As a result, most vaccines are free.

If you have a Silver or Gold plan with William Russell, you will be covered for vaccinations under your vaccinations for adults or well-child benefit. The vaccine must be administered in your country of residence and must be approved for use by the health authority of that country. You will not be covered for vaccines received outside of your country of residence.

You are covered for eligible treatments you receive due to the side effects of a COVID-19 vaccination, as long as the you don’t have any relevant personal medical exclusions on your certificate of insurance.

For example, if you have a personal medical exclusion for ‘allergies’ you wouldn’t be covered for treatment following an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

Yes. The hospital cash benefit is designed to reward members with COVID-19 or another condition who receive inpatient medical treatment at a hospital within a country’s public healthcare system.

Usually, treatment at these hospitals is free for patients, or at least heavily subsidised. As no costs are passed on to us, we pass on some of the savings to our members. We’ll pay a cash benefit for each night you stay in a hospital as an inpatient, where no charge is made by the hospital and where the treatment costs would have been covered by your plan.

Our ability to evacuate members is being affected by the pandemic. This is due to international travel restrictions and the limited number of hospitals accepting new patients. We will do our best to get you the care that you need within these limitations.

Whether your case qualifies for evacuation, where you will be evacuated to, and how you will be evacuated are at the discretion of our Assistance Service. You can contact the service on +44 1243 621155.

More about emergency medical evacuation

As long as the face-to-face consultation would have been covered under your plan, then we’ll cover the same consultation that is carried out by telephone or video link. This applies for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 conditions.

Many governments are encouraging people to stay at home to avoid spreading COVID-19 and overwhelming healthcare systems. In response to these guidelines, healthcare providers are giving consultations over telephone or via video link. . It’s best to get in touch with us if you have any questions relating to your plan and whether your consultation would be covered.

If you’re admitted to hospital because you need medical treatment (including for COVID-19), you will be covered for as long as your admission and medical treatment are necessary and there are no personal medical exclusions applied to your policy.

You’re not covered for admissions that are not medically necessary. You should contact us if you need to be admitted to hospital.

If you’re admitted to hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 that require medically necessary treatment in a hospital which can only be provided as a day-patient or inpatient, we can consider cover, subject to pre-authorisation. Admissions that are solely for quarantine purposes are not covered.

Coronavirus and international travel insurance

Whilst most international travel is restricted and carefully monitored in most countries globally right now, if you do need to travel here are some common questions you may be thinking of:

If you have a travel plan that begins or renews on or after 01/06/20, you won’t be covered for COVID-19.

If your plan is still valid before this date, you can claim if you can’t travel for any of these reasons:

  • injury or illness to you, a close relative, close business colleague, or travelling companion
  • compulsory quarantine applying to you or your travelling companion
  • a government regulation as a result of the pandemic that prevents you from travelling

You can claim for the loss of irrecoverable deposits or payments for any unused travel and accommodation you have either paid for or have contracted to pay.

There is a lot of conversation and debate around covid vaccine passports at the moment in different countries. Just like a national passport, a vaccine passport could allow the bearer entrance to a venue, like a crowded concert, or a foreign country that demands proof of vaccination in addition to a visa and valid national passport.

Learn more

The situation is constantly changing. Doing your own research before a trip is important.

As of 24/05/2021, the following destinations are now allowing vaccinated U.S. travelers to visit:

  • Anguilla
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Ecuador
  • Estonia
  • Republic of Georgia
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Montenegro
  • Nepal
  • Seychelles
  • Tahiti

In the UK, there is a ‘travel traffic light system’ in place. Read more about it here.

Covid certification – including proof of a negative test – is already part of international travel in certain countries. The government in the UK expects this to continue and is looking at ways of making it possible to show such information digitally.

European officials have announced plans for an EU-wide “Green Digital Certificate”. This would allow anyone vaccinated against COVID-19, or who has tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus, to travel within the region.

Coronavirus – other questions

Here are some other commonly asked questions we get about COVID-19.

With the exception of the travel plan, there are no general exclusions for pandemics in our plans. You will be covered for infection by COVID-19 as you would be for any other viral infection, provided you don’t have applicable personal medical exclusions on your certificate of insurance.

 

We understand that times are tough right now. If you’re struggling to keep up with payments for your insurance plan, it’s best to get in touch with us. We’re people too, and our team members can work with you to find a way forward.

 

Where possible, our staff around the world are working from home. This is in line with regulations and guidance issued by governments. This isn’t affecting the services we offer our members and our usual emails and telephone numbers are working as normal.

Of course, all internal and external communications will (continue to) comply with ISO 27001 and our strict data protection policies.

 

Yes. If you’re not sure what you need, read our glossary of terms.

 

If you have questions about how we can help, please call or email our claims team on +44 1276 486 460 or claims@william-russell.com.

Coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses known to cause illness in animals and humans. In humans, coronaviruses generally cause respiratory illnesses. Previous epidemics such as MERS or SARS were caused by coronaviruses. The coronavirus that’s the subject of the present pandemic causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19.

 

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • a loss of taste or smell
  • and a dry, persistent cough

Less common symptoms include aches and pains, nasal congestion, a sore throat and diarrhoea.

For most people, these symptoms will be mild, and some people may not even be aware they have been infected. But some will become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties. This is most likely in older people or people with underlying medical conditions.

People contract COVID-19 from other people who have been infected with the virus. The virus spreads through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales.

 

It’s best to keep up to date with the latest guidance on the World Health Organization website or from your national health authority. Most guidelines emphasise the importance of regularly and thoroughly washing your hands, maintaining a distance of at least 1 metre from other people, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding unnecessary travel. Ensuring your insurance is comprehensive and up to date could help by providing access to treatment and income support if COVID-19 causes significant illness.