As new infections rapidly mount in France, holidays to the popular destination face threat with the UK Government meeting today to discuss the future of its place on the “air bridge” list. It is worrying news for Britons who may have holidays booked in the coming weeks.
Though hopeful holidaymakers may be eager to jet off, travel insurance experts have issued a stark warning.
While France is currently on the travel corridor list, if this rapidly changes in the wake of a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), it could leave Britons facing major losses.
“For customers who haven’t yet travelled, visiting a country after the FCO has advised against non-essential travel would make their travel insurance invalid,” Antony Martin, managing director at Insurefor.com told Express.co.uk.
If a country is deemed unsafe to travel to by the FCO and a travel advisory is put out, holidaymakers who decide to push ahead with plans will no longer be protected by their insurance policy.
The FCO explains: “Many travel insurance policies will not cover you if you travel to a high-risk destination (often defined as a place where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel or all travel), so make sure you check your policy wording and the relevant country travel advice pages for updates when booking your trip and buying insurance.”
Nicky Kelvin, director of content for The Points Guy UK warns: “In the case something goes wrong you may be paying out of pocket.”
The good news is, in cases of rapid amendments to travel guidance, holidaymakers who are already in France should remain safe according to the experts.
“As it stands, if a customer has already travelled to a country before it has been removed from the FCO travel corridors list, unless advised by their travel provider, they can continue on their holiday as normal with Insurefor.com’s COVID-protection travel insurance cover in place,” said Mr Martin.
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“This includes cover if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and need medical assistance if the hotel they have already checked into is closed due to local lockdown or COVID issues if other guests tested positive.”
While this is true for some insurers though, it is vital holidaymakers read up on the terms and conditions of their policy before they jet off.
“Make sure to double-check your travel insurance before you travel – most policies have changed since the pandemic began to exclude situations like these,” advised Mr Kelvin.
“If you wish to cancel a holiday that is still running, and the FCO isn’t advising against travel, you are not automatically entitled to claim on your insurance if you have to abandon your trip, so it’s worth checking how flexible the policy is with your travel company.”
Yet, even amid ongoing discussions between the UK and French authorities, Britons are urged not to cancel their trip.
“It’s always best to wait for your operator to cancel rather than doing it yourself. If this happens, you are legally entitled to a refund,” explained Mr Kelvin.
“You may be offered travel vouchers, a change of holiday or a Refund Credit Note instead of a cash refund, so make sure you pick what choice is best for you.”
If holidaymakers act too soon they may not be entitled to their money back.
Mr Martin adds: “In the event that customers need to change their holiday dates or their flights are cancelled, the travel company should refund or change the date.”
Though the Government has given no confirmation as to how the future of travel looks for France, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned they will be quick to act if necessary.
The UK Ministry of Transport states that the re-evaluation of the air bridge list continues to be done every four weeks, but adds it may introduce “changes weekly, to reflect the changing panorama of international health”.
Since Monday, 1,397 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in France.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the situation is “deteriorating”.
He said: “The epidemiological situation, which we are following very closely, is deteriorating: 2,000 new cases per day compared to 1,000 three weeks ago.
“About 25 new clusters are identified every day compared to five three weeks ago.”
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