Ricky Batten

Does insurance cover the COVID-19 coronavirus?

Are you covered by your health or travel insurance provider?

The COVID-19 coronavirus is a subject that everyone is talking about at the moment. 

Since we first heard about the outbreak, the number of inquiries we receive from both insured and uninsured people has gone up like crazy. People all over the world are in a state of panic and, with the growing number of cases and affected areas, that doesn’t seem to be going away just yet.

So, in an attempt to help somewhat ease your mind, let me answer the question I’m getting asked the most these days: Does insurance cover the COVID-19 coronavirus? 

Coronavirus situation in Thailand

Before we go into insurance cover for COVID-19, let’s look at some of the key facts you should know about the current situation in Thailand. As of March 3rd, there have been 43 cases of coronavirus in the country. 31 people have recovered and returned home after hospital discharge. These numbers are of course changing on a daily basis. 

On March 1st, the Bangkok Post reported that a man in his mid-30s passed away from the virus, marking the first death of its kind in Thailand. The Ministry of Public Health’s designated page comes in handy if you want to know up-to-date statistics on the coronavirus situation in Thailand

What happens when a person is infected with COVID-19 in Thailand?

If someone thinks they are infected with the virus, they’ll be put in hospital isolation for close monitoring until they make a full recovery. They could also be sent to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute, which is a specialized medical center that deals with infectious disease.

Most hospitals in Thailand also have a designated space with negative pressure rooms and procedures for personal protective equipment like masks, eye protection, and clothing. 

Insurance coverage for COVID-19 coronavirus

Whether or not you’ll receive coverage for COVID-19 really comes down to your insurance provider and the plan you have. It seems like the insurers we work with have different approaches to the novel coronavirus. Many insurers have mentioned that they’ll treat COVID-19 as a special condition that isn’t subject to general exclusion. 

In simple terms, this means that some insurance providers offer supportive measures during what is known as a “special protection period”, which is a timeframe that varies according to each insurer. Here are some examples of supportive measures that we’ve seen offered by different providers:

  • Hospitalization and outpatient expenses related to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • Compulsory quarantine cash benefit 
  • Waived cost for ward upgrade during coronavirus hospitalization
  • Simplified and express claims procedures
  • Virtual consultations

Since the World Health Organization has started to call the novel coronavirus an epidemic, some insurers no longer cover it since many health insurance, life insurance, and travel insurance plans do not cover epidemics. 

What about travel insurance?

It’s no surprise that many people are second-guessing their travel plans abroad now that the coronavirus is affecting different parts of the world. Whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus depends on the policy. 

If you booked your trip before COVID-19 became a known event, then you could still be covered under a “cancel for any reason” policy, or a similar policy. But if you booked after, you probably won’t be covered. Just like with natural disasters, such as hurricanes or floods, it really depends on when you purchased it. 

You should probably talk to your insurance broker or travel agent before canceling your travel plans just to make sure. You’d be surprised how many airlines, hotels, and others in the travel industry are doing what they can to help people affected by the coronavirus. 

How to save money when buying insurance

One rule that rings true after my years of experience in the insurance industry is that you should always buy insurance before you actually need it. Not only does this give you many more options, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run as well. 

No one can predict the beginning of an outbreak such as COVID-19, or how much it will impact the world. But you can protect yourself and your family from such situations beforehand by buying insurance. 

In the case of travel insurance, you can purchase short-term travel insurance once you know your travel date and destination to increase the chances of being covered for trip disruptions, cancelations, or postponements. If you travel on a regular basis, then you might want to look into long-term travel insurance instead. 

If you fall sick from a disease, you’ll need coverage as well. But waiting until you get sick just won’t cut it. It’s important to have coverage ready and check that your current policies cover you. 

If you’re an expat living in Thailand, you should consider global medical coverage from a reputable global insurance provider, which will offer the best coverage in the area, in the region, and even back home. As many expats have found out the hard way, getting sick can be very expensive if you don’t have the right coverage, especially since private hospital treatment is the preferred option for most expats in Thailand. 

Another way that you can save money when it comes to buying expat health insurance in Thailand is by making sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. As an insurance broker, I have expertise in the subject and am happy to answer any of your insurance-related questions.  You can email me at ajarn@pacificprime.co.th 


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