Insurers race to help customers amid epidemic

February 15, 2020 | 13:00
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While the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak – described by the World Health Organization as a public-health emergency of international concern – is just one step away from being classified as a pandemic and as such would normally be exempt from insurance coverage, insurees can relax as some companies have confirmed they will offer compensation.
insurers race to help customers amid epidemic
Insurers race to help customers amid epidemic, photo AIA Vietnam

With the coronavirus, or nCoV, likely to continue spreading, Ralf Klos, a German living in Vietnam expressed his concerns. “I have been trying to improve my immune system, and avoid crowds and potential threats,” he said.

“But I cannot be sure that I will be totally safe in this situation. I am particularly worried that my health insurance might not be helpful if I get infected, because as far as I know, they will not cover epidemics and pandemic cases like nCoV,” he added. Klos is not alone with his worries, as many people have raised similar questions.

Chu Quang Minh, general director of Best Life JSC, said that it is not surprising that customers are worried as some insurance products do not cover pandemics, not only in Vietnam but throughout the world.

Representatives from life insurance groups in Vietnam have told VIR that they will cover any fees for customers who are affected by the nCoV, namely Manulife, AIA, Chubb Life, Dai-ichi, Fubon, Sun Life, and FWD.

“We will cover costs and apply the usual waiting period as we would with a regular illness,” a representative of Sun Life said.

Meanwhile, AIA Vietnam told VIR that until April 30, the firm will implement a special support policy for insured customers on hospitalisation support, reimbursement of hospital and surgical expenses, and health insurance.

In particular, the regular 30-day waiting period is void if the patients have to treat acute respiratory infections caused by nCoV, and all medical expenses arising from services prescribed by doctors during the treatment will be paid out within specified insurance policies.

Bao Viet Life confirmed that the company will still cover nCoV-related acute respiratory infections in terms of hospitalisation and risk of death, even as Vietnam acknowledged is as an epidemic. In cases when customers are exposed to coronavirus-borne risks, the company will compensate insurance benefits in accordance with the terms and conditions for “risks due to other pathologies or causes”.

Meanwhile, Prudential Vietnam is providing a special healthcare programme for customers infected with the virus in Vietnam from now to April 30, with an additional cash benefit equivalent to VND10-20 million ($435-870), based on the duration of quarantine treatment in hospital.

If the duration of treatment lasts three to nine days, the company will offer financial support equivalent to VND10 million ($435).

In the meantime, customers infected by the virus will still be entitled to the existing benefits of their policies, including for total and permanent disabilities, critical illnesses, hospital care, and death, in accordance with the policy terms and conditions.

Life insurers Dai-ichi and Fubon Vietnam have also pledged to protect their clients in nCoV-related events, adhering to the existing contracts.

However, some non-life insurance companies such as PTI, Bao Minh, and BSH will only pay compensation depending on the terms and conditions listed in the insurance contracts. Elsewhere, PVI said that an nCoV infection falls under the firm’s default insurance exclusion clause, which is specified in the insurance policy.

Travel insurances will only cover nCoV cases if the policy includes pandemic coverage. Therefore, it is important to check the plan's exclusions to make sure that the policy does not exclude pandemics or epidemics.

In addition, in order to be insured, customers should make sure they receive contractual documents issued by the insurance company.

By Phan Linh

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