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Will My Travel Insurance Cover Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Ching Sue Mae
Will My Travel Insurance Cover Wuhan Coronavirus?

With more than 727,000 cases and 34,000 deaths worldwide resulting from COVID-19, countries around the world are tightening measures around travelling in and out. 


This article was last updated at 10am on 30 March 2020.

Here in Singapore, as of 30 March 2020, we have a total of 844 confirmed cases of people with the coronavirus, of which 212 have recovered and been discharged. The government has also been updating its travel advisory regularly.

Last week, the government announced a massive $48 billion Resilience Budget to help Singapore tide through this crisis. A large portion of this package goes towards saving jobs and supporting workers, with more support being provided for those hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, during the Budget 2020 announcement, it was shared that $800 million has been set aside to tide the country through COVID-19, most of which will go to the Ministry of Health. Sectors directly affected by COVID-19 will also receive additional support.

Singapore citizens have been advised to wash our hands frequently and maintain good personal hygiene. We have also been advised to be socially responsible by wearing a mask, if we aren’t feeling well. You can also read this article to find out what you will need to pay if you get COVID-19 in Singapore.

Travel Advisory Issued For China, Italy, South Korea, ASEAN And More

In light of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China, the Ministry of Health (MOH) issued a travel advisory for Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel.  

To guard against COVID-19, the Singapore Government has announced that there will be no entry or transit through Singapore for: 

  • From 23 March 2020, 23:59 hours, all short-term visitors (from anywhere in the world) will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.
  • All Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, Long Term Pass holders entering Singapore will be issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).

There are increased limitations on movement worldwide as well. In Italy, large parts continue to be on lockdown as the number of fatalities in the country crossed 10,000 as of 29 March 2020. Australia and New Zealand have also gone into complete lockdown mode. USA also now has highest number of COVID-19 cases, with more than 124,000 cases in the country.

To help monitor better, Singapore government has rolled out an app called Trace Together along with SGUnited, GovTech and the Ministry of Health. The app identifies other phones in your vicinity with the help of bluetooth. It essentially helps in the contact tracing process, and anyone with a Singapore mobile number can download it.

With the COVID-19 pandemic escalating rapidly beyond China’s borders, the Singapore government announced the following travel advisory on 15 March 2020:

With immediate effect, Singaporeans are advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad. This advisory will apply for 30 days, and will be reviewed thereafter. This is to reduce the risk of Singaporeans contracting COVID-19 infection while overseas during this global pandemic.

Source: MOH

Here’s the list of countries/regions and the respective border control measures in place, provided by MOH.

Latest updates from MOH can be found here.

With such an advisory issued, what will happen to your deferred travel plans to these countries? Will your travel insurance cover the trip cancellation costs? The MOH website states that you are advised to check with your respective travel insurance providers for information on coverage and compensation.

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Will my travel insurance cover cancellations made in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Travel insurance covers travellers for a multitude of things, including cancellation and delays of flights, hotels, missing luggage, medical expenses and more. However, in situations like the Coronavirus, an outbreak of a virus often has limited coverage under travel insurance plans for trip cancellation purposes. 

Many airlines have suspended flights to China cancelling their flights to China, these include Singapore Airlines, Qantas Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways and more. Singapore Airlines’ budget carrier Scoot cancelled its daily flight to Wuhan, and customers already booked on those flights will receive emails with further information regarding refunds. Major hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott, Accor and InterContinental have offered free changes or cancellations to bookings up to February 8.

This pandemic has brought the aviation and travel industry to a screeching halt. Some insurance companies have also issued announcements on their sites regarding the Coronavirus outbreak and whether claims arising from Coronavirus-related disruptions will be covered.

Summary Table

You will not be able to make claims if you purchased your travel insurance policy on or after these specified dates:

Insurance Company Mainland China South Korea Iran, northern Italy, Japan etc. All other destinations
AIA 22 Jan (Wuhan)
27 Jan (Mainland China)
23 Feb (Daegu or Cheongdo)
3 Mar (all of South Korea)
3 Mar (Iran, Northern Italy, Japan)
12 March (France, Spain, German and the rest of Italy)
12 Mar
Allianz 22 Jan 22 Jan 22 Jan 22 Jan
Aviva 20 Jan 20 Jan 20 Jan 20 Jan
AXA 12 Jan (Wuhan)
28 Jan (Mainland China)
24 Feb (Daegu or Cheongdo)
5 Mar (all of South Korea)
5 Mar (Iran, northern Italy, Japan) 12 Mar
ERGO 20 Jan (Wuhan)
27 Jan (Mainland China)
30 Jan 30 Jan 30 Jan
Etiqa 22 Jan (Wuhan)
27 Jan (Mainland China)
31 Jan 31 Jan 31 Jan
FWD 23 Jan (Mainland China) 31 Jan (claims related to ‘Trip Cancellation / Postponement / Cut Short Disruption’ not covered)
6 Mar (all claims will not be covered)
31 Jan (claims related to ‘Trip Cancellation / Postponement / Cut Short Disruption’ not covered)
6 Mar (all claims will not be covered)
31 Jan (claims related to ‘Trip Cancellation / Postponement / Cut Short Disruption’ not covered)
6 Mar (all claims will not be covered)
NTUC Income 20 Jan (Wuhan)
27 Jan (Mainland China)
23 Feb (Daegu or Cheongdo)
4 Mar (all of South Korea)
4 Mar (Japan, Iran and Northern Italy) There will be no coverage for any claims arising from COVID-19 if you activate your travel insurance now. Exact date not specified.
MSIG 22 Jan (Wuhan)
23 Jan (Hubei)
27 Jan (Mainland China)

23 Feb (Daegu or Cheongdo)
27 Feb (all of South Korea)
27 Feb (Italy, Iran, Japan) 27 Feb
Sompo 22 Jan (Wuhan and Hubei)
27 Jan (Mainland China)
23 Feb (Daegu or Cheongdo) Exact date not specified 11 Mar
Tokio Marine 12 Jan 12 Jan 12 Jan 12 Jan

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Here’s are the announcements found on their site (as of 10am on 30 March 2020):

 AIA

“Please note of the coverage under our travel insurance – AIA Around The World Plus – for claims arising from COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) outbreak:

1) Travel destinations where travel advisory has been issued by the Singapore government

Policyholders may file a claim for Travel Cancellation, Travel Postponement or Travel Curtailment benefits* if the policy was purchased before:

  1. 22 January 2020 for travel to Wuhan;
  2. 27 January 2020 for travel to any part of Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan);
  3. 23 February 2020 for travel to Daegu or Cheongdo of South Korea;
  4. 3 March 2020 for travel to Iran, Northern Italy, Japan and the rest of the South Korea;
  5. 12 March 2020 for travel to France, Spain, German and the rest of Italy;
  6. 12 March 2020 for travel to any other destinations during the period from 15 Mar 2020 to 14 Apr 2020.

If Policyholders / Insureds continue with the trip, claims arising from COVID-19 will be covered subject to the policy conditions, and provided the policy was purchased before the above-mentioned dates for the respective travel destinations.

For policies purchased on or after the above-mentioned dates for the respective travel destinations, any claims arising from COVID-19 will not be covered.

2) Travel destinations that issued a ban that prevents travellers for entry or quarantine order for travelers from Singapore

Policyholder may file a claim for Travel Cancellation, Travel Postponement or Travel Curtailment benefits* if the policy was purchased before the ban or quarantine order was made known, and provided the policy was purchased before 12 March 2020.

3) Policies purchased on / after 12 March 2020

Please note that COVID-19 is currently considered a known event and there will be no coverage for any claims arising from COVID-19 to any travel destinations if the policy is purchased on / after 12 March 2020.

*Policy conditions apply.

Source: AIA

Allianz

IMPORTANT:  Given the rapid rise in travel bans, please first ensure that no travel ban is in place during your dates of travel PRIOR TO purchasing a travel insurance policy.  Policies purchased while a known travel ban is in place will have extremely limited insurance coverage, and we highly recommend NOT to purchase travel insurance policies when such conditions exist.

Single Trip Policies issued 20 Mar 2020 and after: We will not be covering any claims arising from the COVID-19 pandemic inclusive of medical expenses & medical assistance cases based on the terms and conditions of our Policy Wording.

Single Trip Policies issued from 22 Jan 2020 to 19 Mar 2020: We will provide coverage such as overseas medical benefits or emergency medical assistance in relation to the COVID-19 situation based on the terms and conditions of our Policy Wording and the benefits claimed. However, trip cancellations to any countries will not be covered. 

Single Trip Policies issued 21 Jan 2020 and before: We will provide coverage based on the terms and conditions of our Policy Wording and the benefits claimed. 

Annual Multi-Trip Policies (Travel Booking Date): For travel tickets and similar booking purchased after 20 Mar 2020, we will not be covering any claims arising from the COVID-19 pandemic inclusive of medical expenses & medical assistance cases based on the terms and conditions of our Policy Wording.

For travel tickets and similar booking purchased from 22 Jan 2020 to 19 Mar 2020, we will provide coverage such as overseas medical benefits or emergency medical assistance in relation to the COVID-19 situation based on the terms and conditions of our Policy Wording and the benefits claimed. However, trip cancellations to any countries will not be covered. 

For travel tickets and similar booking purchased before 22 Jan 2020, we will provide coverage based on the terms and conditions of our Policy Wording and the benefits claimed.”

Source: Allianz

Aviva

“Travel insurance policies purchased on and after 20 Jan 2020 are not eligible to claim for any loss related to COVID-19 as it is a known event. All other claims unrelated to this event will continue to be covered.”

Source: Aviva

AXA 

Please refer to the table below for an overview of your AXA travel insurance policy coverage in view of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic on 11 March 2020.

Source: AXA (PDF found here)

ERGO

“The Novel Coronavirus outbreak has been widely reported in the media, and alerts have been issued by the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health, Singapore. ERGO Singapore is treating this Event as known and foreseen, effective 30 January 2020 and we have been updating the travel notice on our website and iPartners regularly. 

Notwithstanding the travel notice published on our website, as on 11th March 2020, WHO has declared COVID19 as a pandemic. Please note that Epidemic or pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization is explicitly excluded in our policy as mentioned under Section 4 – General Exclusions part 30.

As such, any claims arising due to COVID19 for trips commencing after 11th March 2020 0001 hours would be explicitly excluded, irrespective of the purchase date of the policy or the booking date of the trip.

All other claims will be assessed in accordance with our policy terms and conditions. As the situation pertaining to this outbreak develops, coverage for other benefits may also be subject to change. We will continue to update this notice as and when new information becomes available. For policies issued prior to 30 Jan 2020, 0001 hours, where the trips commenced before 11th March 2020 0001 hours, we will assess claims based on the policy terms and conditions.”

Source: ERGO

Etiqa

“In view of the WHO declaring COVID-19 as a pandemic on 11 March 2020, any claims arising from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will not be covered, unless your policy was issued prior to 31 January 2020, 0001 hours.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared on 30 Jan 2020 that the coronavirus epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. We are treating this Event as known and foreseen, effective 31 January 2020. As such, any claims arising globally from this Event will not be covered unless your policy was issued prior to 31 January 2020, 0001 hours.Notwithstanding the above, Etiqa Singapore will honour claims related to / caused by this Event, subject to the terms and conditions of your policy, if your policy was issued before:

  • 22 January 2020, 0001 hours for Insured(s) travelling to Wuhan
  • 27 January 2020, 0001 hours for Insured(s) travelling to the rest of Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan)

As the situation develops, cover to the other areas are subject to change.

For more information, please refer to this official notice.

Source: Etiqa

FWD Insurance 

Source: FWD

NTUC Income 

“For all travellers, please note that COVID-19 is currently considered a known event and there will be no coverage for any claims arising from COVID-19 if you activate your travel insurance now. For further information on cut off dates and coverage, please refer to our COVID-19 Travel FAQs.”

After you have sought refund from your transport and accommodation provider, we will cover the non-refundable portion of your trip cancellation or postponement claim, if:

Source: NTUC Income

MSIG 

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) first declared the Covid-19 outbreak to be a global health emergency on 30 Jan 2020 and has since declared that it is a pandemic. As it is anticipated that more countries will be affected, we consider these developments to be a known event globally from 27 Feb 2020.

We would like to highlight how known events and travel advisories can affect your policy coverage which you need to be aware of when planning for your trip.

Our travel insurance does not cover any claims arising from Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak for trips to or passing through these destinations if the policy or trip is purchased on these dates or later:

  • 22 Jan 2020 for Wuhan
  • 23 Jan 2020 for Hubei Province
  • 27 Jan 2020 for Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan)
  • 23 Feb 2020 for Daegu or Cheongdo of South Korea
  • 27 Feb 2020 for South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan and other destinations

As the situation develops, other policy cover changes may be made due to the events that are made known by the media or government. Please refer to Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the latest update on travel advisories.

Source: MSIG 

Sompo

As COVID-19 outbreak is a known event that affects increasing number of countries worldwide, please note that there will be NO coverage for any claims arising from COVID-19 if you activate your policy from 11 March 2020, 10am. For policy purchased before 11 Mar 2020,10am, please refer to our previous advisory (dated 06.03.2020) below.

For cancellation of single trip policies purchased:

  • On and before 11 Mar 2020, 10 AM – If you wish to cancel your policy, we give full refund for policy cancellation for single trip policy provided the instruction is received by Sompo before 30 April 2020; and (1) policy coverage has not been effected; and (2) the trip’s departure date is no later than 31 May 2020; and (3) there is no claim being made on the policy.
  • After 11 March 2020, 10 AM – There will be NO refund for policy cancellation. We will waive the admin charge for the first change of your policy dates provided the new period of insurance is within 12 months from original period of insurance. Subsequent changes is subjected to admin fee of S$10.

Source: Sompo

Tokio Marine

The captioned outbreak was identified and made known to the general public via various mass media platforms in early January 2020. The first related death case was reported on 11 January 2020. Subsequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued various travel advisories to the affected areas since 22 January 2020. All travellers are strongly advised to refer to MFA’s website for latest update prior and during their trip.

Customers who are traveling against the travel advice of any government authorities are not eligible for any claims arising from the outbreak, unless the trip had already commenced prior to the issuance of the travel advice. Also, we do not cover any cancellation claims arising from the outbreak for travel policy purchased and/or expenses incurred after 11 January 2020, as the outbreak is deemed a “known event” from then on.

Source: Tokio Marine

From these announcements, it’s clear that any travel insurance purchased after specific dates will not cover you for claims made as a result of or reasons related to the Coronavirus outbreak. If you are unsure, we suggest that you check with your travel insurance provider for more details. 

For healthcare workers working in public institutions, cancelling holiday plans due to the COVID-19 situation could be inevitable. MOM has shared that help will be provided to defray the costs incurred if healthcare workers cannot get a refund from their travel agent or insurance company.

Importance of buying travel insurance early 

Frankly, no one could have predicted the onset of the Coronavirus or the severity of its impact globally. 

What we can do, however, is to protect ourselves from similar future outbreaks and unknown situations. You can consider purchasing a single trip travel insurance policy the moment you confirm the destination and dates of your overseas trip. Frequent travellers can opt to purchase an annual travel plan. 

For most cases, if you’ve bought your travel insurance before the advisory was announced (different insurers may use different dates), the trip disruption, postponement or cancellation will be covered up to your policy’s benefit limit.

You should also pay closer attention to the T&Cs of the insurance policy documents. For example, some travel insurance plans offer trip cancellations for any reason (be it as part of the policy or as an upgrade or add-on), which would then cover you for a situation like the Coronavirus outbreak. 

The truth is a lot of us end up buying travel insurance at the very last minute. At times (we’re all guilty as charged), we buy it minutes before stepping onto the airplane. However, purchasing our travel insurance weeks, or even months, before the actual trip can save our wallets from unprecedented costs incurred when we are pushed to cancel our trip. 

Not sure where to look for the best plans? We got you covered. Browse through some of the best travel insurance you can get for your upcoming trip this 2020.

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Common FAQs related to COVID-19 

Q: Are outbreaks like the COVID-19 covered by regular travel insurance policies?

Ans: Generally, regular travel insurance policies cover you if your trip cancellation/ disruption is made due to an unforeseen event. However, insurance companies now consider COVID-19 to be a known event and hence might not provide coverage for any trip cancellation/ disruption claims arising from the COVID-19.

Q: Why are insurance companies not covering claims made due to COVID-19? 

Ans:  Regular travel insurance policies cover you if your trip disruption is made due to an unforeseen event. A known event, is an event that the average person would have been aware of through the mass media/ travel advisory, that interrupts your trip. 

For COVID-19, in the early stages of the outbreak, it was still considered an unknown event. Most insurers now consider COVID-19 a known event and have issued advisories on travel insurance claims. Hence, whether travel insurance covers the losses from COVID-19 largely depends on when the policy was activated. Insurance policies bought after the date when the insurer labels it as a known event will not be claimable. 

Q: If I cancel my trip now due to the COVID-19, can I get a refund on my travel insurance?

Source: FWD
Source: MSIG

Ans: Above are the cancellation terms for some of our travel insurance providers. Essentially, all providers share similar cancellation terms. A notice period needs to be given to the insurer before the policy date starts.

For Single Trip policies, usually only premium plans will be refunded, and this is dependent if you had filed any claims prior. For Annual Trip policies, the premium refunded will be on a prorated basis and dependent if any claims have been made.

Q: Can I make a claim for trip cancellation due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Ans: It will depend on your policy purchase date, policy and insurer. Currently, trip cancellations and delays are not claimable for many countries, including China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and more. In the event that you choose to proceed with your travel plans, any inconveniences or medical claims made due to the Coronavirus, might not be covered. 

Q: If I visit a country that does not have any reported COVID-19 cases, am I still covered by my travel insurance?

Ans: The global coronavirus outbreak continues to be a developing situation it will be subject to change. Travel insurance companies have been updating their policy wording frequently, based on the situation in specific countries.

Take AIA’s policy wording for example. If you purchase a policy on or after these dates for the respective travel destinations, any claims arising from COVID-19 will not be covered:

  1. 22 January 2020 for travel to Wuhan;
  2. 27 January 2020 for travel to any part of Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan);
  3. 23 February 2020 for travel to Daegu or Cheongdo of South Korea;
  4. 3 March 2020 for travel to Iran, Northern Italy, Japan and the rest of the South Korea;
  5. 12 March 2020 for travel to France, Spain, German and the rest of Italy.

Other insurance companies, such as FWD Insurance, have already expanded their policy wording to not cover any claims made “Anywhere Globally” due to the outbreak.

Q: What do I do if I am admitted to a hospital overseas and do not have enough money with me for a deposit?

Ans: You will need to call your insurer’s 24-hour hotline (found on your insurance policy or their website) and they will guide you on what to do next. 

Note: In the event that you need to be hospitalised, do make sure that you have to be admitted to a government licensed and/or registered hospital to facilitate claims.

Q: What can I do to reduce the chances of contacting COVID-19 when overseas? 

  • Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness
  • Observe good personal hygiene
  • Practise frequent hand washing with soap 
  • Bring hand sanitiser along with you wherever you go 
  • Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked meats
  • Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell

Q: Which countries should I avoid travelling to? 

Ans: At the start of the outbreak, MOH advised travellers to defer all travel to Hubei province in China. This then expanded to deferring all non-essential travel to Mainland China, followed by Iran, Northern Italy, Republic of Korea and Japan.

The latest travel advisory was released on 15 March 2020:

With immediate effect, Singaporeans are advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad. This advisory will apply for 30 days, and will be reviewed thereafter. This is to reduce the risk of Singaporeans contracting COVID-19 infection while overseas during this global pandemic.

Q: What help does the Singapore government provide for people infected with COVID-19? 

Ans: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has said that the Singapore government will be paying for hospital bills incurred by coronavirus patients that are Singapore residents and long-term pass holders, admitted to public hospitals. However, this coverage does not extend to outpatient treatment at general practitioner clinics or polyclinics, nor does it apply to treatment sought at private medical facilities.

Since 7 March 2020, tourists and other short-term visit pass holders in Singapore will need to pay for COVID-19 treatment. While Singapore will still waive testing fees for short-term visit pass holders, they will have to pay for treatment if warded.

Q: Will my travel insurance cover cancellation due to COVID-19? 

Ans: Due to a drop in demand due to the coronavirus, airlines such as Singapore Airlines have cancelled some of their scheduled flights. If your flight is cancelled, the airlines could provide re-accommodation, changes or refunds. Some travel providers are also offering to waive the fees incurred when you postpone or cancel your travel booking. 

You can check with your travel provider to find out if the fees incurred will be waived. However, in the event that you are unable to get a refund from travel providers when your travel plans are cut short, postponed or cancelled, you can make claims on your Travel Insurance. 

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Read these next: 
If I Get COVID-19, What Will I Need To Pay?
10 Prudent Things You Can Do With Your Travel Fund If COVID-19 Has Derailed Your Trip
COVID-19: Airline And Hotel Cancellation Fee Waiver Policies
Travel Insurance Promotions and Discounts for 2020
6 Times You Wish You Had Bought Travel Insurance




By Ching Sue Mae
A flat white, an adventure-filled travel and a good workout is her fuel. Sue Mae enjoys sharing knowledge on personal finance while chasing the dream of financial independence. 

The post Will My Travel Insurance Cover Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)? appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.

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    General Motors Co plans to keep its Brazilian factories shut down for at least 60 more days due to the coronavirus crisis, the company said Thursday, as the final batch of unionized workers voted on the automaker's proposal. GM's plants in Brazil have been shuttered since March 30 when the company

  • EU ministers agree half a trillion euro coronavirus rescue plan
    Finance
    Reuters

    EU ministers agree half a trillion euro coronavirus rescue plan

    European Union finance ministers agreed on Thursday on half-a-trillion euros worth of support for their coronavirus-battered economies but left open the question of how to finance recovery in the bloc headed for a steep recession. The agreement was reached after EU powerhouse Germany, as well as France

  • Trump says airlines could receive grant details this weekend; sources say around 275 applied
    News
    Reuters

    Trump says airlines could receive grant details this weekend; sources say around 275 applied

    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that airlines could receive details this weekend about the terms of a $32 billion payroll grant to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which sources told Reuters has received around 275 applicants. Under the $2.3 trillion CARES Act, passenger airlines

  • Exclusive: U.S. banks prepare to seize energy assets as shale boom goes bust
    News
    Reuters

    Exclusive: U.S. banks prepare to seize energy assets as shale boom goes bust

    Major U.S. lenders are preparing to become operators of oil and gas fields across the country for the first time in a generation to avoid losses on loans to energy companies that may go bankrupt, sources aware of the plans told Reuters. JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp and

  • U.S. agencies back revoking ability of China Telecom to operate in U.S.
    Finance
    Reuters

    U.S. agencies back revoking ability of China Telecom to operate in U.S.

    The U.S. Justice Department and other federal agencies on Thursday called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke China Telecom (Americas) Corp's authorization to provide international telecommunications services to and from the United States. China Telecom is the U.S. subsidiary