As airlines begin to resume itineraries in the coming months, many Britons may be casting their attention back to holidays after 13 weeks of lockdown. Though travel insurance will certainly be necessary for any future bookings, a Skyscanner expert has revealed that it may not be able to provide coverage in some situations.
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For some time, many travel insurers paused sales altogether, meanwhile, others amended the small print of new sales to rule out any coverage relating to COVID-19.
Skyscanner’s senior director of legal public and regulatory affairs Martin Nolan points out that this could cause a major problem for would-be holidaymakers who are keen for a foreign escape.
“Travel insurance will not generally cover cancellations for trips booked after coronavirus became a known event unless they’ve explicitly covered this risk (and most have not), so if you took out your policy on or after 12 March, it’s likely not covered,” he explained.
The only exception to this rule is those who took out their policy prior to the World Health organisation deeming the virus a pandemic.
This included those who have annual policies.
What’s more, many insurance firms are also revoking coverage for travellers who optionally visit an affected region, and with more than half the world hit by the pandemic, there are few countries deemed “safe”.
“If you already had a policy in place, for example, an annual policy, but you only booked your trip after coronavirus became a known event, it’s also not likely to be covered,” Mr Nolan continued.
“If you still take a trip to an affected region, it’s likely your policy might be considered void because you have travelled to an affected region, particularly if you need to make a claim that’s then related to coronavirus.
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Warnings and updates provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also play a vital role in determining whether your travel insurance policy will be valid.
“Be sure to also monitor your government advice, as some policies follow official government advice, such as the UK FCO. Where the FCO has warned against all but essential travel – a restriction that’s currently in place – then this usually operates as a trigger for insurance policies to let you make a claim, in many cases even where airlines haven’t cancelled your flight yet,” Mr Nolan advised.
The FCO maintains that Britons should avoid all but essential travel, though this is “under constant review”.
Furthermore, with easyJet planning to resume 75 percent of its itinerary across Europe in August, and Ryanair suggesting over 1,00 daily flights will operate across 90 percent of its European hubs by July, international travel could be just around the corner.
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“If the FCO has not warned against travel to a destination but you decide to cancel anyway, this would be considered as a voluntary cancellation by you, and your insurer would be unlikely to cover it,” said Mr Nolan.
Despite the current FCO advisory, holiday firms and airlines are luring customers in with budget-friendly deals for the impending months.
Though these deals may be attractive, Mr Nolan warns they come with a major risk that travel insurance likely won’t cover.
“It’s highly unlikely that you will be covered for coronavirus if you buy your travel insurance now,” he explained.
“Insurance providers are no longer offering coverage once coronavirus became a known event.
“Many governments are still advising against travel to certain destinations, and insurance providers are therefore taking the lead from these official travel advisories.”
It is a sentiment echoed by Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis.
Although many Britons are keen for an escape into the sun after lockdown, the MSE team say it “would be sensible to avoid booking any holiday for now”.
Furthermore, the lack of clarity on when travel will resume makes even winter holidays a risk for now.
Individual cancellation policies are vital for those who are hoping to book a trip.
MSE continues: “If it’s possible to book now, and then get a refund by cancelling if you can’t go due to coronavirus, then you may want to go for it (just ensure you pay via debit or credit card to improve protection in case travel firms go into administration).
“But nothing in this environment is without risk.”
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