Last Updated: Wednesday, July 1, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern for many people worldwide and international travel has slowed as a result. However, many international students and exchange visitors are either already in the U.S., while others are planning to come to the U.S. once international travel opens up. Either way, there are concerns about COVID-19 (coronavirus) coverage in their insurance.
As medical treatment costs are very high in the U.S., it is natural that people would be concerned about whether coronavirus related treatment would be covered or not. These frequently asked questions will likely answer any questions you have about coronavirus coverage in the insurance coverage. Contact us if you have other questions.
What international student and exchange visitors insurance plans will cover COVID-19 related expenses?
We offer many international student and exchange visitors insurance plans for F and J visa holders. Many of these plans exclude coverage due to CDC travel warnings and/or U.S. Department of State travel warnings. However, the following plans purchased on or after May 15, 2020 would cover COVID-19 treatment just like any other new medical condition that occurs after the effective date of the policy:
The following plans as of July 1, 2020 will resume covering COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 treatment for existing and new insured persons:
You can verify the coverage in certificate wording where it is specifically mentioned that the related exclusion does not apply to COVID-19.
What is the COVID-19 related exclusion in various products?
- ExchangeGuard, StudentSecure, Study USA-Healthcare: If you purchased any of these products prior to May 15, 2020, there is no COVID-19 related coverage after April 6, 2020, or earlier, as based on CDC travel warnings for specific locations. Please contact us with any inquires.
- Patriot Exchange Program, Student Health Advantage: As of Wednesday, July 1, 2020, existing and new insured persons will be issued an endorsement that provides coverage for COVID-19 medical expenses.
Can I get a coronavirus test covered through insurance?
A coronavirus test would be covered only if the insurance plan you have purchased covers coronavirus and the physician ordered it based on medical necessity such as related symptoms. If you just feel like getting tested, it is not covered.
Can I cancel and repurchase (ExchangeGuard, StudentSecure, Patriot Exchange Program, and Student Health Advantage) to get coronavirus coverage?
Normally, when you purchase a new policy all terms and conditions, including the pre-existing conditions exclusion, reset. That means, if you already have a sickness or injury (known or unknown) before the effective date of the new policy, it would be considered a pre-existing condition in the new policy and may not be covered.
However, in this instance, individuals will be allowed to purchase a new policy without the pre-existing exclusion being reset. The existing policy and the new policy must not have any gap in coverage. Any conditions deemed eligible and incurred under the original policy will not be considered as pre-existing conditions under the new policy. Any condition incurred under the new policy for which claims or treatment were not started under the original policy will be reviewed to determine if pre-existing. All other benefit and exclusions under the new policy will apply.
For these plans, Patriot Exchange Program, Student Health Advantage, you don’t need to cancel your coverage and purchase a new plan; this update is applicable for all new and existing insured persons.
If new ExchangeGuard / StudentSecure plans cover coronavirus, why can’t the old one cover it as well?
The older plans have a CDC travel warning related exclusion that was triggered on 03/27/2020 or earlier, it excludes charges resulting from coronavirus.
Is it possible for the insurance company to waive the cancellation fee for ExchangeGuard if I am cancelling the old policy and repurchasing the same policy?
Yes, the insurance company has agreed to waive the cancellation fee in such cases.
I would like to return to my home country. However, my country’s government is requiring a negative COVID-19 test result to avoid 14-day quarantine. Can the insurance plan cover that?
Even if coronavirus is otherwise not excluded, the expenses for the COVID-19 test are not covered in such cases.
What if my physician prescribed the coronavirus test because I had COVID-19 symptoms, but it came negative? Will the insurance company pay for it?
As long you have purchased an insurance plan that covers coronavirus related expenses, it would be covered because it was medically necessary.
Is the antibody test covered?
No. The antibody test would not be used to diagnose a current issue, so it would not be covered.
My current plan does not cover COVID-19. Can I buy another insurance specifically to cover COVID-19?
Yes. We have several other plans that you could possibly be eligible to purchase. However, please note that both insurance plans would be secondary to each other; meaning, it would require coordination of benefits between two insurance companies in case you become sick or are injured in accident.
I purchased ExchangeGuard before 03/27/2020. Did the insurance policy coverage change for COVID-19?
The insurance policy has not changed. It already had the exclusion:
”Charges resulting from a disease outbreak in a country or location for which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Warning if a) the warning has been in effect within the 6 months immediately prior to your date of arrival, or b) within 10 days following the date the warning is issued you have failed to depart the country or location.”
The CDC issued a global travel warning on 03/27/2020. Therefore, if not already excluded by the earlier, country-specific warnings, customers had the coverage for a maximum of 10 days, up to 04/06/2020.
In fact, in order to offer coronavirus coverage in new plans, it required that the certificate wording change in regards to this exclusion.
If I have purchased insurance in 2019 and if I extend the insurance after 05/15/2020, will it cover COVID-19?
Yes, for Patriot Exchange Program and Student Health Advantage.
No, for ExchangeGuard, StudentSecure and Study USA-Healthcare.
I would like to cancel ExchangeGuard and purchase the same plan again. However, I am currently located in New York. What are my options?
Unfortunately, if you are physically located in the state of New York (NY), Maryland (MD) or Washington State (WA) at the time of purchase, you are ineligible to purchase ExchangeGuard.
Have ExchangeGuard and StudentSecure become more expensive?
The insurance prices have increased from 05/15/2020 onwards.
I have finished my program but because of the COVID 19, I cannot go back to my home country. Could the ExchangeGuard still cover me if my J visa status (DS-2019) is expired?
For J visas, there is a 30-day grace period after the visa ends during which the insured would remain eligible.
Individual situations can be considered for accommodation if someone cannot return home. However, before the insurance company can consider, we will need to know the current location and home country of the insured to see if On Call International can assist in arranging a flight back home. However, in general, if someone is no longer eligible under the J or F visa, they would need to look for alternate insurance plans, as appropriate.