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Travel Insurance Update - Viral Fear

06 May, 2020 | Travel Medical Insurance

This is not, as you might suspect, fear of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19 that is spreading across the world with intensity and abandon. That is the fear of the virus. The more difficult problem, in my opinion, is that fear itself has gone viral.

Most of us have been quarantined, or simply forced to stay home for the past two or three months and what do we do? We sit in front of our stupid TVs and listen to program after program telling us how many deaths there are and how horrible this all is. The body bags, the refrigeration trucksand the thousands of medical staff dressed up like aliens are permanent images that are being injected into our brains. Vignettes of survivors telling their horrible stories are making movie stars of those people who can make COVID-19 sound the worst and the most dangerous. TV interviewers dress up like laboratory monkeys to impress on you how serious they are. This is what is creating “viral fear.”

There are millions of real survivors and millions more who have had the COVID-19 virus and do not even know it. This is a nasty virus, and there is no doubt about that. It is one of perhaps 20 nasty viruses which we have encountered over the past 100 years and we have found cures or vaccines for almost all of them. We will solve this one and I believe that we will solve it very quickly. There are many drug candidates for possible treatments and several have been very successful in other countries. President Trump has spoken of the drug Hydroxychloroquine and I know that Ciclesonide and Remdesivir,as well as a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir, are being investigated and have shown very positive results. A potential vaccine known as mRNA-1273 is also in trial studies and shows great promise. Perhaps next year we will get a super flu shot…let us hope so.

The fear of the virus, itself, has mostly dissipated. We understand it now, we are very close to knowing how to deal with it and we know how to keep ourselves safe.

The irrational and viral fear, however, unfortunately created a few monsters. The one that affected snowbirds the most was that some insurers panicked and told their policyholders that their travel medical insurance was being cancelled due to COVID-19 and the government travel advisories. Several insurers gave their clients 10 days to get back home and, after that (usually March 23), there was no coverage. WHAT!!!! How can you cancel a policy in the middle of its term because of “Viral Fear”? I did not read this in any policy, but I’ll bet that a dozen lawyers figured out that they could get away with doing it. Most policies have government advisory exclusions, but I have never seen one with a “pandemic” exclusion or one that allowed an insurer to cancel a policy in the middle of its term, outside of the policy provisions.

The panic, stress and distress which these insurance companies caused were horrendous. Snowbirds were forced to pack up their homes and get back to Canada – NOW. Moving is one of the most stressful things on the stress scale and being forced to move, right NOW, must be terrible. The airports were jammed with fearful people trying to return to Canada. As an aside, I would just like to remind you of the social distancing dangers that these insurers caused and the potential sicknesses and deaths that may have resulted.

Those of you who were insured by Medipac were not forced to do anything, of course. We insured you, as we said we would, AND we insured you for claims arising from the COVID-19 virus, too. We did not force you to return to Canada. My guess is that, if you remained at your destination like we did, you stayed very close to your snowbird home and were very, very safe doing so. My wife and I stayed until April 18and got an extra month in the sun. I also know that Medipac is still insuring some later-travel snowbirds as you are reading this. If your policy was purchased prior to the government advisory in March, and most were, then you had full coverage for COVID-19, too.

Just as a final surprising note, Medipac has not had one single claim involving the COVID-19 virus and we insured almost 50,000 snowbirds this season. Our staff of about 125 people has been very loyal and stood by their posts to make sure that you were taken care of properly. We had two or three possible COVID-19 issues with our staff, but they proved to be negative, after testing, and all staff members are back at work.

We all buy travel insurance for our peace of mind; perhaps you might want to consider a Medipac policy next time.

Stay safe, use your common sense and have a wonderful summer.

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