23rd June 2020

UPDATED Coronavirus: Travel Insurance FAQs - Future Holidays Booked

By Suzi Rackley, Dip CII
Client Director
Future holidays booked

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.

If I want to buy travel insurance for the future, what are the important things I must look out for?

Apart from the normal benefits, it is important to consider a policy that provides:

Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI). This covers you if the airline goes bust before you fly.
Travel Disruption Cover. This reimburses you for costs associated with being forced to remain at your destination for longer than planned, missed departures and delays.
Pandemic and Epidemic Exclusions. This is an overriding exclusion on everything and will be on every policy, so it is important you understand what is not covered.
Aston Lark’s Travel Insurance includes SAFI and Travel Disruption cover.

What can I expect to pay for my travel insurance in the future?

Travel insurance is priced on individuals’ circumstances, locations and trip duration, so it is impossible to say what you will likely pay. The travel insurance industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, with most insurers temporarily pulling out of the market. We expect rates to increase and you may find that you are paying up to 50% more for your travel insurance soon.

Should I just buy a cheap online policy then?

No, we would not recommend that. You get what you pay for. Many cheap policies have low limits of cover and you do not know how they will respond if you find yourself in need of emergency assistance. Before you buy any policy, you should carefully check what cover is being provided and that it suits your personal circumstances. You should buy a policy to give you the cover you need and not just to tick a box. An extra £100 spent could prove valuable if you need to make a claim. Have a look at Aston Lark’s travel cover.

I would like to book a holiday. Will my travel policy cover COVID-19?

Unfortunately, no. All insurance policies, even those already in place, will not provide COVID-19 cover for newly booked trips. We recommend you carefully read and understand your cancellation rights for any future bookings.

My tour operator is wanting the final payment for my holiday. Do I just lose the deposit or pay in full and hope I can claim this back later?

All the usual rules apply with what is and isn’t covered for cancellation due to COVID-19, so the best advice is to talk to your tour operator or airline and find out what your options are. They may allow you to extend the date that the balance is due.

My hotel is open for business but my flights have been cancelled. The hotel will not refund me as technically I could have stayed there and it’s not their fault my flights were cancelled. Can I claim for the hotel booking?

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 them easily. Hotels should be working with their customers to find an alternative solution. If they are affiliated with ABTA or ATOL, they have a code of conduct in relation to treating customers fairly during this pandemic and if they are not, you can report them. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have just completed an investigation into accommodations which are not offering refunds and concluded that this is unfair. It is worth contacting the CMA for further advice. Alternatively, the local Regulator for the country where the hotel is located may be able to assist.

If I must cancel a holiday because a close family member becomes ill with COVID-19, can I claim from my travel insurance?

Yes, most policies will provide cover if you have to cancel a trip because a close relative is seriously ill. But your trip must have been booked pre-March 2020 and your policy already in force at that time.

What happens if I decide not to travel because I feel unsafe, but the Government is not advising against travel?

This will be classed as “disinclination to travel” and travel companies and insurers will not give you a refund. If you are nervous about travelling, you are better off talking to your holiday provider about postponing your trip to a later date.

What if there is a spike in COVID-19 again whilst I am away and I am unable to get home. What cover will I have for extra accommodation and expenses?

If your insurance policy provides “travel disruption” cover, then you may be able to make a claim for reasonable costs and expenses; it depends on the policy cover. But your trip must have been booked pre-March 2020 and your policy already in force at that time.

Can I buy Pandemic cover?

Now, no. The insurance industry is looking at ways that cover can be included in the future.

 If I book a new holiday and the destination is shut down because of a new wave of COVID-19, can I make a claim under my travel insurance?

No, any newly booked trips will be subject to the Pandemic and COVID-19 exclusions in policies.

If I book a holiday next year and take out a new travel insurance policy, will I have cover for a second wave of COVID-19 or a similar situation?

At this point in time, no. All new policies or policies that have gone through a renewal will exclude COVID-19, Epidemics and Pandemics. We expect the insurance industry to consider if this cover be included in the future.

Am I covered for cancellation if the Track and Trace system tells me I have potentially been in contact with someone with COVID-19 and have to self-isolate?

This is a concern because it can happen, but the window in which you will be affected is small as it would need to happen within circa three weeks prior to travelling. Some insurance companies may cover this if you are medically unfit to travel and this can be evidenced i.e. you have contracted COVID-19 so spans more than the 14 days quarantine period currently advised by the UK Government via track and trace.

My holiday was rescheduled and it is likely my tour operator will now have to cancel. What can I claim for?

If your airline or tour operator cancels your holiday, you are entitled to a full refund or a Refund Credit Note. There should be no reason to have to make a claim under your Travel Insurance.

I have a single trip travel policy and have had to move the dates of my holiday to avoid COVID-19. Can I amend the travel dates on my insurance policy?

It depends on the insurer. Some insurers will allow you to amend the trip dates of a single trip policy as long as your new trip is within 12 months.

Can I claim for cancellation because social distancing is going to ruin my holiday?

Unfortunately, no. Social distancing is an unprecedented situation that no-one could have planned for.