Spécialisée dans l’assistance médicale et l’assurance voyage, Europ Assistance est amenée à gérer les crises en liaison avec les agences de voyages ainsi qu’avec, en ce qui concerne la sécurité, son partenaire GardaWorld.© International SOS Specializing in medical assistance and travel insurance, Europ Assistance is called upon to manage crises in conjunction with travel agencies and, as far as security is concerned, with its partner GardaWorld.© International SOS

What can an insurer do in the event of an untimely confinement in a hospital or hotel? Séverine Lacroix, Marketing Director of Europ Assistance, answers.

How do you manage the Covid-19 element?

Séverine Lacroix – At Europ Assistance, we consider Covid-19 to be a “classic” illness. This means that we will treat cases of Covid contraction abroad as we would for any other type of illness: we will cover medical and hospitalization expenses and any medical repatriation. This is the main issue of our business in this crisis: medical care abroad, and in particular the care of serious cases, most of which require medical repatriation.

In the case of a business trip, the company normally insures its employees for this type of risk, and it is important that they make sure they have good coverage! Indeed, the conditions for repatriation have become complex, due to health regulations or untimely border closures, and the conditions for obtaining repatriation authorizations can sometimes be obscure. It is therefore recommended to choose strong, experienced and reliable providers

. For example,

how do you evaluate a hospital stay in a case of suspected Covid?

S. L. – If the hospital stay is dictated by medical imperatives, i.e. the traveler requires hospital medical attention, we will fully cover it, as explained above. On the other hand, a mandatory hospital stay in case of suspicion (i.e. without the need for medical attention) is more like an administrative quarantine that we cannot cover. It is important to explain that no insurer can cover the consequences of administrative decisions by the States. It is a so-called “mass risk” that is not really insurable.

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Which countries have complicated repatriation conditions?

S.L. – The top 5 countries where repatriation formalities are currently difficult are Morocco and Madagascar because of the difficulty of obtaining authorizations for our medical flights, but also Dubai, Tunisia and Israel, which require a PCR test on entry. In case of emergency intervention for severely affected people, the PCR test is a source of slowing down the sending of medical staff on site

.

What coverage do you offer for hotel stays or extended stays?

S. L. – We must distinguish several cases:

– In the case of compulsory isolation on arrival in a country, we will unfortunately be unable to do anything. Indeed, a basic rule of law in our insurance business is that of the hazard. It is article 1964 of the civil code which confers a random character to the insurance contract. We cannot cover a risk that has a 100% chance of happening, it is prohibited.

– In the case of a trip to country X where the risk of testing positive leads to quarantine in a hotel, hotel expenses will not be covered as long as the trip is within the initial dates. Of course, medical expenses will be covered, and we can propose a consultation with a remote doctor and a follow-up by our services. This is an important psychological element to evacuate stress.

– On the other hand, if a person contracts Covid on the spot and is obliged to extend his stay, inducing changes in the date of flight reservations for example, this extension is covered (accommodation and flight change costs). This is also valid if the person, asymptomatic, tests positive at the time of taking the plane.

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Is it possible to envisage an evolution of the insurance coverage with more integrated cases?

S. L. – We are working on it! But Covid evolves quickly, as does the health situation. We are adapting our coverage, but it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the pace: new needs appear and then sometimes disappear in a few weeks.

One of the first adaptations we had to make, as an insurer, was to evolve our guarantees to cover people who are not really sick, as Covid is a disease that people can contract and transmit without having any symptoms. After 2 years of crisis, this seems obvious to all of us but this case had never happened before.

So, since 2020, we are continuously mobilized to adapt as the crisis evolves and new situations arise.

What other services do you offer to corporate travel?

S. L. – For business clients, we offer the TRIP (Travel Risk Intelligence Portal), which provides all the information needed to plan a trip to a given destination: health situation, restrictions, Covid-related regulations, etc., as well as more traditional information, particularly related to security. Companies use it a lot and TRIP allows them to grant or deny a travel authorization to a destination.