A little background…
The coronavirus has not only brought devastation to millions of people across the globe, it has also affected many countries’ economies and thousands of businesses too, in particular, the travel industry.
As the coronavirus began to rapidly spread and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, many UK travel insurers had to quickly evaluate how this disease may affect their business and the future of their employees.
While some decided to remove their cover from the market completely, others made the decision to point out to customers that their policies did not cover claims related to the coronavirus. This is because the coronavirus was and is now a known event, and the purpose of travel insurance, much like many other form of personal insurance, is to cover unknown and unexpected events.
However, as more countries begin to control the outbreak and lift restrictions, many Brits have become more optimistic that they may finally be able to enjoy some sunshine – Cyprus even hopes to welcome back tourists as soon as June!
Of course, whether us Brits will be able to jump on a plane to a sunny destination and enjoy a cocktail or two will depend on whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) lifts the travel ban; also, whether countries open their borders, enforce quarantine restrictions, and actually allow British people in!
How have policies changed?
Around the 13th of March 2020, many travel insurers began excluding some coronavirus-related claims from any new policies. Of course, every policy may vary slight, but the majority of travel insurers will not cover you for any cancellation, abandonment or curtailment claims relating to the coronavirus. They may also not cover a change in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, should this be a result of the coronavirus.
However, it’s very important to remember that most travel insurers will still cover you for any medical expenses incurred while you are abroad, as a result of the coronavirus, providing the FCO has lifted the travel ban and there is no travel restrictions on your holiday destination. Although we recommend that you check the finer details with your travel insurer to see if your policy covers you for this.
Why should I get travel insurance if it won’t cover me for anything?
As soon as the FCO announce that Britons are allowed to travel abroad again, and other countries open their borders, you will need travel insurance to protect both yourself and your trip. In fact, you should already have travel insurance to protect any upcoming trips or holidays that have been moved to a later date as a result of the coronavirus, in case anything unexpected should happen in the meantime.
Although some policies will exclude certain claims related to the coronavirus, they will still cover you for all other elements they previously did. For example, cancellation if you are unable to go on your trip due to being called for jury service, cover for missed departure or cover for departure delay etc. Hopefully by the time the FCO lifts the travel ban, we won’t need to cancel our holiday due to coronavirus anyway!
The most important aspect of any travel insurance policy is the emergency medical cover as very few countries have the luxury of a free National Health Service like we do in the UK. So, to avoid large bills and difficulty getting home, should anything unexpected happen to your during your trip, it is essential you take out travel insurance. Remember, you should also declare any existing medical conditions to your insurer to make sure you are fully covered.
And despite some policies excluding coronavirus-related claims, most good travel insurance providers will cover any medical costs incurred on holiday which are linked with the coronavirus. This is because insurers are aware that the risk of contracting the virus will remain present for a significant amount of time in to the future. Again, we always recommend reading your policy wordings to make sure you have this cover.
What if I have an existing annual multi-trip policy?
If you purchased an annual multi-trip policy before the coronavirus outbreak it’s worth knowing that changes cannot be made to your existing policy. Exclusions for claims related to the coronavirus are only included in policies purchased around March 13th 2020.
Those with multi-trip policies that are due to renew will be able to purchase their policy as usual, providing that the insurer is still selling travel insurance, with the same cover as they did the year before. There may just be an exclusion for any coronavirus claims.
What if I have an existing single trip policy for an upcoming holiday?
Similarly, if you purchased a single trip policy before the coronavirus outbreak it’s worth knowing that changes cannot be made to your existing policy. Exclusions for claims related to the coronavirus are only included in policies purchased around March 13th 2020.
If you have been able to move your upcoming trip to a later date, then you should contact your travel insurance provider as they may be able to amend your single trip policy to suit your new travel dates. Again, depending on how far in advance your new holiday is and whether there has been a change in destination or duration, there may be a small additional premium to pay.
We understand that many of us are desperate for a bit of sunshine, but if you do decide to travel against the FCO advice, then you won’t be covered by your travel insurer.