Coronavirus: Comprehensive cover is crucial

By MiWayLife Time of article published Mar 2, 2020

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Fear of the coronavirus is gradually spreading across the globe as infections and deaths continue to increase in number, and territory. The toll stands at more than 2700 deaths and more than 80 000 reported cases across the globe. And those are the cases of which we know.

South Africa has escaped thus far, with not one confirmed case of coronavirus yet - although the country held its breath for a few hours on February 6 when two suspected cases of coronavirus surfaced in KwaZulu-Natal, only to be cleared.

Still, the climbing death toll and new suspicions that the virus could spread through anything from water droplets to building pipes has plenty of people worrying: “what would happen if I were to contract the coronavirus?”

Life insurance is the obvious answer to the financial ravages of an epidemic - and a safe bet too.

“As a rule of thumb, your policy should pay out if you pass away from something like the coronavirus in your home country,” says Craig Baker, the chief executive of MiWayLife insurance. “You need to check for things like geographies that might be excluded by your life insurance policy and the type of work you do, if you for example have an occupation that could put you at high risk for something like the coronavirus.”

Your life might not be the primary financial casualty of something such as the coronavirus.

“With an epidemic like coronavirus, which is incredibly contagious but actually has a lower mortality rate than SARS or Avian Flu, the biggest risk is loss of income,” says Baker. “Quarantine could be needed, but no clear rules exist in South Africa as to how long a person must be isolated if they were to contract the virus. With other more common contagious infections, such as tuberculosis, the general standard is four weeks or more. So, not being able to work for a month or more could be devastating to a person’s finances without income protection.”

Of course, getting insurance once you have contracted something like this is pretty much out of the question, so upfront protection is crucial in cases like this. What about travel insurance? While a comprehensive life insurance policy guards against dread diseases, loss of income in certain situations and sudden death, travel insurance has its own set of rules.

Most people who travel frequently know that they are automatically covered with travel insurance in their airfare, but few actually know what this covers. “Travel insurance is a basic insurance against unexpected misfortune when not in your home nation - but travelling to an area known to be affected by the coronavirus - for example, China - would not necessarily be covered. It might not be considered ‘unforeseen’ if you were to contract a virus which that area is in the headlines for having,” says Baker.

Having said that, given the seriousness of an outbreak such as the coronavirus, life insurers might even place certain territories on a no-go list where your cover could be impacted should you elect to travel to that location.

The industry has for some time been talking about the emergence of a “Super Bug” that will have the capacity to spread and kill at rates not previously seen. We have had glimpses of this through MERS, and SARS.

The world has become a small place, with international travel and some countries surviving on tourism as a major revenue generator. “Just ensure that you are comprehensively covered,” Baker said. 


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