As the lockdown restrictions start to ease, some of you will be thinking about the holiday you have coming up or even considering booking a new trip away in the not too distant future. Whilst we cannot travel just yet, the FCO should soon start to advise that some travel can commence.
The situation with the pandemic is unprecedented and it raises new questions daily about how Travel Insurance will protect you now and in the future, and we have therefore created a series of FAQs to help you. Each insurer takes a different stance, so if you are unsure please talk to us and we will try and provide some certainty.
Things are continuously moving and regulation is under review, so it is absolutely vital that you talk to your tour operator about any concerns you have about a booked or future trip and to us if you have any questions about Travel Insurance.
My employer will not allow me to work from home or take any more holiday to be able to comply with the UK quarantine requirements, so can I claim for cancellation costs?
If your trip was booked pre-March 2020 and your policy was already in force at that time, then you should be able to cancel and make a claim if the FCO restrictions on travel are still in place at the time you are due to travel. It is the FCO ban on travel that you can make a claim for.
When the FCO ban gets lifted, am I still covered then?
This is speculative. At the moment, companies will not offer refunds and there is no cover under a travel insurance policy if you cannot go on holiday because you cannot meet the self-isolation restrictions when you return. It is certainly worth talking to your tour operators and your travel insurer as they may be prepared to assist.
If I have to quarantine when I get to my holiday destination, can I cancel and make a claim or claim for compensation?
If the FCO ban has been lifted and your hotel is open and offering running services, then it is unlikely you can get a refund from your travel operator. You may be able to make a claim under your travel policy if it was in force and your trip was booked pre-March 2020, but most insurers will say it is “disclination to travel” which is not covered.
If I get quarantined whilst abroad can I make a claim for additional accommodation costs and expenses?
If the quarantine is Government-enforced it is likely the hotel will not charge you for any reasonable additional costs. If you do have expenses and you have “travel disruption” cover and your trip and policy were booked and in place pre-March 2020 you may be able to make a claim under your travel insurance, but this could depend on what the FCO advice is at the time.
If UK quarantine is lifted and I book a holiday and then the quarantine rules change, or the rules change whilst I am abroad, what compensation is available?
The first port of call would be to ask your tour operator for a refund as you booked the trip in good faith. If the situation changes whilst you are abroad, we do not expect there to be any compensation available.
COVID Medical cover
I have a holiday booked in September. Am I covered for medical costs, curtailment or repatriation if I catch COVID-19 whilst away?
If your trip was booked pre-March 2020 and your policy was already in force at that time, we expect most insurers to honour COVID-19 cover. But remember, most policies do not cover you if you are travelling against the advice of the FCO. Please talk to us or your insurer for confirmation.
If I become poorly with COVID-19 whilst I am abroad, will I need to show that I contracted the infection in that country for my travel insurance to be valid?
No, it should not matter which country you contracted COVID-19 in, as this would be hard to evidence.
Why would I need travel cover for UK holidays?
Most annual travel insurance policies provide cover for trips made in the UK that last longer than two consecutive nights. The medical emergency cover will not apply because you will have access to the NHS, but the cancellation cover would. In most circumstances the hotel or tour operator would refund you or offer alternative dates but if you are left with out-of-pocket expenses, then this would be covered by your travel insurance. The same rules apply with COVID - if your trip was booked pre-March 2020 and your policy was already in force at that time and you have to cancel or quarantine, then your insurer may consider cover. If it is a recently booked trip or you have just taken the policy out, you will not be covered for any COVID-19 related cancellation. It is also worth noting that, if you have chosen to include cover for baggage and personal belongings then this is also covered for UK holidays. The policy excess can sometimes be a lot lower than your household contents policy but beware of low policy limits.
What it ATOL and how does this protect you?
ATOL is a Civil Aviation Authority scheme and protects most air package holidays sold by UK travel companies. Any package holiday bought in the UK must have protection by law. ATOL stops you losing money or becoming stranded if the travel company you book with collapses. However, you should not just rely on ATOL and still carry out careful due diligence on the travel company and their terms and conditions.
If I have annual travel insurance which was in place before COVID-19, can my travel insurer change the terms of my policy cover before my next renewal?
No, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) would not consider this to be treating customers fairly. The only time policy terms would change before renewal would be if there is a fundamental change to the risk, like changes to your health, medication or personal circumstances.
Can I cancel my annual Travel Insurance policy and get a refund if I decide to now not book any trips?
Most insurers will allow you to cancel your policy mid-term and you will have to request a refund. If you have made a claim, there will be no refund due. However, you should only cancel your policy if you are certain you no longer need the cover. If you have a future trip booked or you are still waiting for a refund on a current trip, then you must keep your policy in place. Once you cancel, you are no longer protected. If you think you may book a trip in the near future you should keep your policy in place as buying new travel cover is tricky at the moment as a lot of insurers are not taking on new customers. It will also likely cost more.
Should I accept a voucher from my airline or travel provider if my trip is cancelled either by me or them?
No, a voucher has no protection, especially if you accept one as “full and final settlement”. You must ask for a full refund or a Credit Refund Note.
I have a voucher from an airline. If they go bust, will my travel insurance cover the costs?
Vouchers (unlike Credit Refund Notes) are not protected by ATOL. If a firm goes bust, it is likely your voucher will become worthless. Unless you have Travel Provider Failure cover it is unlikely you can make a claim under a Travel Insurance policy. You may be able to claim your money back from your card provider under Section 75. Please speak to them about this.