These FAQs are accurate as of 15:14 BST 22/04/2020 and are subject to change as the situation evolves.
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 bodily 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. According to the WHO, about 1 in 6 people with COVID-19 become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties. This eventuality 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. Most people will catch the virus by touching a surface on which such droplets have landed, but people can also inhale the droplets directly.
What can I do to protect myself against COVID-19?
It’s best to keep up to date with the latest guidance on the WHO website or 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 anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory infection, and avoiding touching your face.
What should I do if I come down with symptoms of COVID-19?
Guidelines vary in different countries, so it’s important to keep up to date with the latest guidelines issued by your national health authority. Most countries seem to be advising people with COVID-19-like symptoms to self-isolate.
If I contract COVID-19 am I covered by my plan?
If you have a health plan from William Russell, you are covered for the treatment of COVID-19 as you would be for any other viral infection provided you don’t have personal medical exclusions on your Certificate of Insurance that would apply to the necessary treatment.
If you have a life plan from William Russell, you are covered if you die as a result of 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.
If you have an income protection plan from William Russell, you are covered if you’re unable to work as a result of 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.
Now that COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, is my cover affected?
There are no 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.
Will I still benefit from emergency medical evacuation if I cannot be treated locally?
If you have a health plan, the benefit for emergency medical evacuations will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members are likely to be treated within the quarantine framework implemented by their local health authority. If not, the combination of international travel restrictions, reluctance of national governments to grant permissions for the proper functioning of air ambulance aircraft, and limited availability of hospitals accepting new patients means that our ability to evacuate members is likely to be affected.
Whether an individual case qualifies for evacuation, where you will be evacuated to, and the means of the evacuation remain the discretion of the Assistance Service. The Service can be contacted on +44 1243 621155.
Am I covered if I travel to countries that have confirmed cases of COVID-19?
You should follow the advice issued by the authorities in the country where you are resident and the country you are travelling to.
In line with the terms and conditions of our plans, you are not covered if you knowingly travel to an area where there are confirmed COVID-19 cases — if such travel is against the advice issued by the authorities in the country where you are resident and the country you are travelling to.
If I have a health plan, am I covered for COVID-19 testing?
If you have a Silver or Gold plan and you’re currently experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, you’re covered for out-patient costs related to the investigation, testing, and treatment of COVID-19, provided these have been prescribed by a doctor. These costs are covered even if the test result is later confirmed as negative. The normal plan terms and conditions regarding excesses and co-insurances will apply.
If you have a SilverLite, Silver or Gold plan and you’re not currently experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, you’re covered for the costs of a test under your well-being benefit. The normal plan terms and conditions regarding excesses, waiting periods, and co-insurances will apply.
Sometimes a hospital may include a test for COVID-19 as part of pre-operation screening. This may be because the hospital does not want to admit a patient who is infected or who may not fully recover due to their infection. Such pre-operation testing for COVID-19 is covered under all health plans.
Am I covered for doctor consultations made over the phone or video link?
Many governmental authorities are encouraging people to stay at home to avoid spreading COVID-19 and overwhelming healthcare systems. In response to these guidelines, healthcare providers are providing consultations over telephone or video link. We’re taking a pragmatic view on covering such consultations — both for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 conditions. It’s best to get in touch with us if you have any questions.
Am I covered for quarantine?
If you are admitted to hospital because you need medical treatment, you will be covered for as long as your admission and medical treatment are necessary.
You are not covered for admissions that are not medically necessary. You should contact us if you need to be admitted to hospital.
If I have a travel plan, can I claim for cancellations of travel arrangements?
If you cannot travel for any of the reasons below, 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: –
- injury or illness to the member, close relative, close business colleague, or travelling companion
- compulsory quarantine applying to you or your travelling companion
- a governmental regulation as a result of the pandemic that prevents you from travelling
Please note that the travel plan is changing from 01/06/2020. If you have a travel plan that begins or renews on or after this date, you will no longer be covered for COVID-19.
Are William Russell offices remaining 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 governmental authorities. Service for our members is unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic and our usual emails and telephone numbers will work 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?