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What You Need to Know About COVID-19 & Insurance

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

On 23 March 2021, the UK is marking 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, and the Association of British insurers has set up a coronavirus hub to inform and support customers.

We answer questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on our insurance plans. We are here to help.
Update 13/04/2021: The coronavirus situation is constantly changing, so please check back for updates to this information.

Coronavirus and international health insurance

Does my international health insurance plan cover COVID-19?

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.

Can I buy international health insurance if I have coronavirus?

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.

How to get a covid vaccine as an expat?
Read the full guide on COVID vaccines for expats

Will you cover a test for COVID-19 if I have international health insurance?

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.

Will you cover a vaccine for COVID-19 if I have international health insurance?

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 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.

Am I still eligible for the hospital cash benefit if I am admitted to a public or government hospital, with COVID-19 or another condition?

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 we are not billed for treatment and accommodation costs and where the treatment would have been covered by your plan.

Can I still get an emergency medical evacuation if I cannot be treated locally?

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.

Am I covered for consultations made over the phone or video link during the pandemic?

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.

Does my international health insurance cover admission to hospital for COVID-19 treatment?

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.

Am I covered if I’m told I have to quarantine?

The costs associated with quarantine at a residential address or hotel are not covered. If you are quarantined at a medical facility due to a positive COVID-19 test or COVID-19 symptoms, or as a requirement of a hospital admission for another condition then we can consider cover, subject to pre-approval.

Coronavirus and international life and income protection insurance

Does my international life insurance cover COVID-19?

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.

Does my international income protection insurance cover COVID-19?

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.

Can I buy international life and income protection insurance if I have coronavirus?

If you are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, then we will not offer terms 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.

COVID-19 isn’t the only thing impacting expats
Find out how Brexit is affecting expats in the UK and EU

Coronavirus and international travel insurance

If I have a travel plan, can I claim for cancellations of travel arrangements?

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.

Will there be covid vaccine passports in place to travel?

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.

Which destinations are open to travelers vaccinated against COVID-19?

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

  1. Estonia
  2. Hungary
  3. Poland
  4. Bahrain

Of these, Estonia and Poland are already allowing visitors who can show proof they have been vaccinated, while Hungary is considering opening its borders to visitors later this year.

Can I travel after being vaccinated against COVID-19?

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.

What's the difference between international health insurance and travel insurance?
Find out here

Coronavirus – other questions

Is my cover affected because COVID-19 is a pandemic?

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.

What if I can’t afford my insurance payments due to coronavirus?

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.

Are William Russell offices open during the pandemic?

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.

Is William Russell still issuing new plans?

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

Who should I call if I have questions?

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.

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What is coronavirus?

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.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and a dry, persistent cough. Less common symptoms include aches and pains, nasal congestion, a sore throat, diarrhoea and loss of taste or smell.

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.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People contract COVID-19 from 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.

What can I do to protect myself against COVID-19?

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 washing your hands thoroughly with an alcohol-based cleanser, maintaining a distance of at least 1 metre from people coughing or sneezing, 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.