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Will travel insurance cover you in Hong Kong?

Will travel insurance cover you in Hong Kong?

If you’re travelling to Hong Kong, escalating protests may affect your travel plans. Will travel insurance cover you to change those plans? 

When did you buy your policy?

Protests started in Hong Kong in June but escalated in mid-August causing delays and cancellations to flights. Since 6 August some travel insurers have drawn a line in the sand – if you bought your policy before that date, you’re covered to make changes to your trip, subject to the policy exclusions. But if you bought your policy after that date you’re not covered.

Travel insurance for a known event

Travel insurance doesn’t cover you for a ‘known event’ but the definition of a known event can be murky. Generally speaking, if the event was publicised in the media or official government websites when you bought the policy, it’s a known event, and you're not covered. 

Insurer 1Cover told CHOICE, “Our policies do not cover claims for losses caused by an event that you were aware of at the time of purchasing your policy. If you entered a policy after the [6 August], we would expect you would have done so with an awareness of the unrest in Hong Kong. For these policies, we will not, to the extent permitted by law, pay any claim caused by or arising from or in any way connected with protests and resulting events at Hong Kong airport.”

So when are the demonstrations in Hong Kong a known event? It’s best to check with your travel insurer. 

 

The two biggest travel insurers, Covermore and Allianz, cut cover for the Hong Kong protests as of 7 August.

Will my travel insurer cover me for the Hong Kong protests?

Brand

Cut off date for cover caused by Hong Kong civil unrest

Cover-more

12am  7 August 2019

Allianz

12am 7 August 2019

Insure and Go

12am 12 August 2019

1Cover

9am 6 August 2019

World2Cover

7am 7 August 2019

RACV

7am 7 August 2019

CGU

12am 16 August 2019

Travel Insurance Direct

12am  7 August 2019

World Nomads

12am  7 August 2019

 

What can you claim?

If you bought your policy before the cut off:

- If you’ve already departed on your trip you could claim additional transport and accommodation expenses.
- If you haven’t left yet, you could claim cancellation or amendment costs.
- You’ll need to cancel or rearrange what you can first, and keep all receipts and relevant documentation.
- If you book new accommodation, you can’t upgrade from a backpackers dorm to a five star resort at the insurer’s expense. It has to be in line with the standard of accommodation you already booked.

If you bought your policy after the cut off:

You’re out of luck. It’s unlikely you’ll be covered to cancel or amend the trip. It’s generally best to buy your policy at the same time you forked out your cash for flights and accommodation. That way your covered right from the start. And of course, check the relevant travel alerts on smartraveller.gov.au before you book.

1Cover advises “It’s really important travellers keep an eye on the news around their destination before they buy their tickets and purchase their travel insurance. This prevents disappointment and heartache further down the track.”

You’ll still be covered for other things

At least cover is still available for things that aren’t affected by the Hong Kong protests. Phil Sylvester, spokesperson for Travel Insurance Direct and World Nomads travel insurance told us, “Cover would still be available to things such as theft or loss of belongings, injury or medical emergency – as long as those things are not linked to the excluded events. So, trip on a broken paving stone and twist your ankle and your claim for medical costs would be unaffected by the any exclusions, but get hit in the foot by a rubber bullet and your claim is very unlikely to succeed. However, don’t try to second-guess our determinations, if something has happened to you and you assume it won’t be covered because of the civil unrest, lodge the claim anyway and let us determine that. The worst that can happen is we say no.”

Civil unrest or military intervention?

Even if you bought cover before the Hong Kong protests became a known event, you’re subject to the policy exclusions, aka the small print.

- Insurers currently refer to the event in Hong Kong as ‘civil unrest’ which most policies cover.

- If the Chinese military intervenes, the event becomes an act of war, which many travel insurers won’t cover regardless of whether you bought the policy before or after the cut off date.

This exclusion usually applies to medical, cancellation and amendment expenses. 

While many insurers have the exclusion in the small print, how they interpret it will vary. The provider of World2Cover and RACV travel insurance, Tokio Marine, told CHOICE that for policies purchased before the cut off date “We have taken the view that were the Chinese military to come in to regain order at the direction of the Chinese government that this would not be excluded under our policy. It is not an act of war and the military are not taking power, there is no revolution or insurrection. They are maintaining the peace within the boundaries of China. We would not exclude these claims. Each would be looked at their own merit.”

So if you have a trip booked to Hong Kong, keep an eye on how things pan out - stay in touch with your travel insurer and ask them if they will continue to cover you for this event.

Written by Jodi Bird. Republished with permission of CHOICE.