8 April 2020

Coronavirus: Travel Insurance FAQs

By Suzi Rackley

The leisure industry has been one of the hardest hit areas and, understandably, our clients have lots of questions and concerns about insurance cover for holidays. We have updated the responses to some of the most frequently asked questions, which we hope you find helpful.  The situation with travel and travel insurance is constantly changing, and we will do our very best to support and guide you. Please contact us if you have any more questions or concerns.

If the FCO have advised against all but essential travel to a specific location because of Covid-19 what cover do I have under my travel insurance policy for cancellation?
If you booked your trip before the FCO advised against travel, then your insurance policy should cover any non-refundable costs.

I took out a travel insurance policy and the FCO advice against travel was already in place. Will my travel cover still be valid?
Unfortunately not. A travel insurance policy will not provide cover if it was taken out after the FCO travel advice was in place.

 I am due to go on holiday soon and I cannot travel because of the FCO restrictions. What should I do?
The first thing you must do is talk to your airline, travel or tour operator and request a refund or reschedule your trip. If you have non-refundable costs, then you should be able to claim for these under your travel insurance policy.

My airline will not give me a refund, only a voucher, but I don’t want this. What should I do?
You should check your booking terms and conditions. Most airlines should either refund you or offer a flight at a later date. You do not have to accept a voucher. You are entitled to ask for a refund. However, enforcing these rights at this difficult time is not easy.

How do I get a refund from my airline?
Many airlines are struggling financially, so consider if you do actually need a refund or whether you could take a voucher. If you want a refund, please check the website of your airline. Some airlines will insist that you telephone them. If the call waiting time is too long, try calling them at different times of the day. If this is unsuccessful, you can try getting your money back from your credit card provider if you paid for the tickets this way. However, this is not a legal right. It is at your credit card provider’s discretion.  As a very last resort, you can make an official complaint to your airline.

I booked a package holiday through a tour operator. What are my rights to a refund?
If you have booked a package holiday through a tour operator under the Package Travel Regulations, you currently have the right to a refund if this is stated in the booking terms and conditions. Please be aware that some deposits and upgrades are non-refundable. The regulations on this are about to change, which may mean companies can issue credit notes.

Can I claim for non-refundable deposits under my travel insurance?
Yes, providing that you meet all the requirements of the policy.

What can I do if only part of my holiday is cancelled? For example, I am due to fly to Australia for two weeks in October and stay on a ranch for the first week, and the ranch have advised they are now closing for the year due to Covid-19.
This is a difficult question to answer as every scenario will be judged on its own merit. If you can still travel and enjoy a good proportion of your holiday it is unlikely that your travel insurance will cover cancellation of the trip in its entirety.

I am not due to go on holiday until a few months’ time. Can I cancel my trip now and claim under my insurance?
No, most insurance policies apply timeframes in which you can claim for cancellation due to FCO restrictions. These range from 1 week to up to 24 hours before you are due to travel. This is because the FCO restrictions could be lifted. If you want to cancel your trip now, in the first instance take the advice from your airline or tour operator.

I am not due to go on holiday until a few months’ time. Can I cancel my trip now, because I just don’t want to travel at the moment, and make a claim under my travel insurance policy?
No, unfortunately not. There will not be any cover for disinclination to travel.

My travel insurance is about to renew. What should I do?
It is extremely likely that travel insurance premiums are going to increase significantly. We hope that the travel ban will not last 12 months, and people will start to be able to go on holiday again. It would be advisable to renew your existing annual travel insurance policy because if you need to take a new policy out at a later date your premium could be double.

I booked a trip in January to fly to Spain in October and my annual travel insurance policy is due for renewal next month. If I renew, will I still be covered for cancellation due to Covid-19?
Each insurer has a different stance, so please speak to us. If you booked the trip before the FCO restrictions were in place and you renew your policy with no gaps in cover, most insurers will honour a cancellation claim subject to you meeting all the relevant criteria.

I am about to book a holiday. Can I buy travel insurance?
Booking a holiday now should be considered very carefully. Any travel insurance policy you take out now or in the near future will exclude all cover for Covid-19, whether this is for cancellation or medical costs.

For further information, please click here to read our previous Coronavirus-related travel insurance guide, published on 13th March 2020.

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