Many are the times that I have been approached by my elder law clients, with their questions about insurance policies. They ask if something in particular is covered or what should be covered. The truth is, that most of the time I end up referring them to an insurance agent I work with because I’m not really qualified to give them a good answer.
That being said I’m going to stick my neck out and write about an insurance issue that is affecting me and my personal situation as well many of my clients.
Let me preface this by telling you that all five of our children have already left the house. On one hand it sometimes gets me down, but on the other hand this has left us with an awesome opportunity – since we are still relatively healthy (despite my wife having gone through a bout of breast cancer). We’re young enough and healthy enough to travel the world.
In the last couple of years, we have been to literally tens of countries – always touring by ourselves and generally enjoying taking in other cultures and natural or cultural sites.
This year due to Covid-19, we have had three trips canceled so far. Romania, Germany and Northern Italy will all have to wait for a different year. Thank G-d we were able to do Cypress (amazing waterfalls in the Troodos mountains) at the end of January. We are still waiting to see if our big trip to India, planned for this fall/winter, is going to be canceled as well.
So far, we have been very lucky with regards to the financial fallout of our cancelled trips. We always get travel insurance at the same time we book our tickets and between the flights being canceled on us or alternatively us canceling and using our travel insurance for hotel and car bookings, etc. we haven’t lost a lot of money.
But the question is how insurance coverage is going to change. You see, all of our travel was booked prior to there being any suspicion of a pandemic breaking out and therefore it was covered by the existing policies purchased when we made our reservations. However, I am starting to see more and more clients come to me regarding new policies. Not just travel policies, but much more importantly, health related policies whereby illnesses that are connected to Covid-19 are not going to be covered.
The question then becomes, “How far are the insurance companies going to go?”. Think about it. When we read now, that people are having respiratory problems or heart problems because of their Covid-19 sickness – and when we hear that these illnesses may go on for years – what do we think is going to happen when the insurance companies start excluding and then denying claims? Is the insurance company going to refuse to cover the treatment expenses when in three years someone develops a heart problem caused by Covid-19?
I wish I could tell you the answers to these questions – but unfortunately, I can’t. What I can tell you for sure is this: you have to start being really careful. When you have new policies (whether they be short-term or long-term policies) regarding your health – read them through, including the fine print, to know if these things are going to be excluded. And if you have an existing policy in place, hold on to it. In other words, they’re not going to be able after the fact, to start changing the policy. It’s likely that if they do it will affect a lot of people and there could be a large class lawsuit. The point is, that at least certain types of illnesses may not be excluded because the existing policy didn’t consider them when you purchased the policy. In short, I expect we will find that the health-related policies we currently own are much better than any new policies which may exclude Covid-19 related problems.