The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted travel plans all over the world and brought overseas holidays to a stop for most.
As the Government starts to lift some restrictions, we've been working hard to try and answer some of the most common questions on travel insurance.
Different policies offer different covers and there are a multitude of scenarios and specifics to consider. Therefore, if you have a specific situation then we would always encourage you to contact your Broker or Insurer to see how your individual policy would respond.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for advising UK nationals on where it's safe to travel to. It is largely the case that this advice also determines whether or not you'd be able to make an insurance claim if you're unable to travel to specific locations and/or obtain a refund from your travel agent – you should always try this route first.
Since March 11th 2020, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a global pandemic, the FCO has been advising against all but essential travel to ALL overseas destinations, this restriction has now been revised and some countries are deemed safe to travel to – for a full list you should visit the FCO website.
Claims related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) are now generally likely to be excluded from travel insurance policies as it is considered a 'known event' that Insurers and travellers are aware of, therefore claims are no longer just possible, but probable.
Here are some of the most common questions we've had regarding travel cover.
This information is correct at the time of writing and we will endeavour to keep you updated.
Q. If I book a trip today, but don't have an annual travel insurance policy, can I get a single trip policy to provide cover for cancellation due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
A. It is very unlikely you will be able to secure cover for cancellation or curtailment of a trip due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Some may still cover you if you or a family member catches Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus before you travel and you have to cancel as a result, you should check this with your provider.
For those with Annual Travel Insurance in place:
Q. I have annual travel insurance which was in place before 11th March 2020. If I now book a holiday to a country the FCO deems as safe, do I have cover for medical expenses, repatriation and cancellation/curtailment if I catch Coronavirus (COVID-19) whilst on holiday, or beforehand and therefore cannot travel?
A. Most of our insurers would provide cover for these things provided at the time of booking the FCO had lifted restrictions, however you should check for specific Coronavirus (COVID-19) exclusions which may limit cover in certain circumstances for this type of situation.
Q. Would I have cover if I am unable to travel because I am told to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace, or a member of my travelling party is told to self-isolate?
A. If you (or a member of your party) are told to self-isolate and therefore are unable to travel, provided your travel insurance doesn't have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) exclusion, it is likely you would be covered for the cost of cancelling the trip where you were not able to re-arrange/obtain a refund. Worth just noting that if you continue to travel you could invalidate your policy by travelling against Government advice.
Q. I've booked a holiday with the sole purpose of attending a specific event which has now been cancelled (e.g The Olympics), can I claim on my travel insurance?
A. If at the time of the event, there is no FCO advice not to travel and the event is cancelled, frustratingly it's very unlikely you would be able to claim for consequential losses such as accommodation and travel.
However, if you arranged your trip as a Package, there is a chance you could get a refund under the 'Package Travel Regulations'. This states that is the tour operator makes a 'significant change' to original arrangements, you do not have to accept the alternative, and therefore may be entitled to a full refund – you should discuss this with your tour operator.
Q. What if I cannot travel on a booked holiday/trip because the area where I live is put under localised lockdown?
A. If you live somewhere where a localised lockdown is ordered, the Government advises against all but essential travel to, from and within that area, therefore you would not be able to go on holiday.
In this case, the best first step would be to contact the tour operator, or airline and try and rebook for a later date, or cancel the booking and obtain a refund. This will depend on their individual cancellation/refund policies of course.
You may be able to claim on your travel insurance in this case, provided there is no Coronavirus (COVID-19) exclusion, in all likelihood if you took the cover out before March 2020 it should be covered.
Insurers' responses to this varies and so you should speak to your Broker or Insurer to check if you have this cover.
Q. If I book a holiday now, to a country the FCO has deemed safe, for later in the year, but lockdown is re-imposed and the FCO revert to advising against all but essential travel at the time of my planned trip, do I have cover for cancellation of the trip?
A. Provided your policy does not have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) exclusion, then in all likelihood you would have cover for cancellation of the trip, but we would recommend this is checked on your specific policy.
Q. Are there any other routes I could try to get my money back if my trip is cancelled?
A. Depending on how you paid for your trip, you may also wish to explore cancellation cover with your bank to see if you qualify for either of the following, referencing the card you purchased your holiday with:
- The Charge back Scheme (Debit and Credit Cards)
- Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act (Credit Cards)
In some cases you may be able to claim the money you have paid for your holiday back via one of the above schemes.
If you are intending on travelling to one of those countries now deemed safe by the FCO, we would encourage you to check local laws on face masks and the like. For example, in parts of Spain, residents and visitors alike are now forbidden from leaving their homes or hotels without wearing a mask.
You may find some of the information here useful too:
Please note, this information is correct at the time of writing, is subject to change and individual insurers are responding in different ways, the above is intended to be guidance only and of course, this could change depending on FCO advice. Please contact us if you have a specific situation to discuss.