June 2015

Is MERS covered by insurance?

The recent outbreak of Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea may have triggered concerns to many people in Hong Kong for fear of another epidemic similar to SARS. One question that may come to your mind is probably whether MERS infection is covered by insurance.

If you are holding a life or medical insurance policy, you can make a claim as long as the symptoms fit the terms and conditions. To act more proactively, you should review your current policies and see if you need to upgrade or get additional protection to make sure both your family and yourself are adequately covered. For those who receive daily income, you may need to consider having a hospital income plan to cater to your financial needs in case you are hospitalised.

If you are holding a travel insurance policy, you may be compensated for cancellation or curtailment of trips due to Black Outbound Travel Alert, or hospitalisation or use of emergency assistance services resulting from infection during your trip. For enquiries on insurance coverage, you may contact your financial adviser or call our 24-hour customer service hotline at 3123 3123.

Learn more about MERS

Knowing that you are well covered will certainly give you peace of mind. Nevertheless, we still need to keep in mind some basic precautions to keep it at bay: 

MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that caused SARS. People may be infected upon exposure to animals (such as camel), environment or other infected patients with an incubation period of up to 14 days. Patients may suffer from acute severe respiratory illness, with symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulty. Some may also have gastrointestinal symptoms (such as diarrhoea) or even kidney failure.

Like other respiratory diseases, MERS can be prevented by observing personal and environmental hygiene as follows:

  • Wash hands frequently with liquid soap or alcohol-based handrub
  • Cover mouth and nose with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing and discard used tissue in litter bins with cover
  • Avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation
  • Keep your home clean with diluted household bleach daily
  • If you have respiratory symptoms, wear a mask and seek medical advice promptly

Avoid unnecessary travel to high-risk regions (such as Korea and Middle East). Travellers should avoid visiting healthcare facilities, farms, barns or markets with camels, and avoid contact with sick persons and animals, especially camels, birds or poultry.

Consult your family doctor if in doubt.

Source: Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health

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