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Travel insurance and coronavirus: Are you covered?

Travel insurance and coronavirus: Are you covered?
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If you have – or had – plans to travel over the coming weeks, or if you still have travel plans for later on in the year, this could be a worrying time. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all non-essential travel for 30 days from 17 March 2020 as a result of coronavirus. When you add in the range of travel bans across the globe, a lot of travel plans are likely to be cancelled or rescheduled.

When it comes to protecting your trip, travel insurance is an important tool. But, how does it apply to this unique situation? Here are some key things you need to know about the impact of coronavirus on travel insurance.

Am I covered when it comes to coronavirus?

The aim of travel insurance is to protect you from any losses that result from the cancellation of your travel plans, or anything that might happen to you while abroad. When it comes to coronavirus, it is important to find out whether or not your policy will still cover you.

Advice from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is to check the guidance issued by the FCO before travelling. Anyone travelling to a country or region against government advice risks invalidating their travel insurance policy.

However, if you wish to cancel your trip but the FCO has not issued advice to avoid travel to that destination, you may find that you are not covered to do so.

It is best to check the FCO advice for the most up-to-date information for travel to your destination shortly before your intended departure date.

If you already have a travel insurance policy

According to BIBA, if you purchased travel insurance before the FCO published advice against travelling to your intended destination, you should be covered if you are forced to cancel your trip. You should also be covered against any necessary extra travel costs if you have to cut your trip short or rearrange your journey. This is assuming that cancellation or travel disruption cover is included in the policy.

If there is no advice against travelling to your intended destination, it’s still a good idea to check with your individual provider about whether you would be covered against any coronavirus related incidents if you do decide to travel. 

It is important to note that many insurers are limiting or changing cover on existing single and multi-trip policies for claims relating to coronavirus. Whether you plan to travel or not, it would be wise to contact your insurer to find out how any changes will affect your policy.

If you are planning to get a travel insurance policy

Travel insurance is an important financial product – even when there isn’t a global pandemic going on. While you may find it hard to get a policy that will cover you against coronavirus-related claims at the moment, travel insurance remains important. It protects you against other risks such as losing your possessions while abroad, or needing medical attention. 

Individual providers currently have different approaches to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If you find a policy that suits you, it may be worth talking to the insurer directly to find out their stance on coronavirus-related claims. 

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that it’s a good idea to look at the level of cancellation cover or travel disruption cover your chosen policy offers. It is also more important than ever to be truthful when providing personal information to your insurer. If you do not declare any existing medical conditions – including coronavirus – you could risk invalidating your insurance policy. 

How can I make a claim if I have to cancel my plans?

The ABI has stated that as the FCO has advised against all but essential travel for 30 days from 17 March 2020, policyholders with cancellation or travel disruption cover in place should be able to claim for cancelled trips that were already booked and cannot now go ahead.

To make a travel insurance claim, you will need to contact your provider. You’ll need to provide your policy number (found on your policy documents) and explain the reasons for your claim. You will be sent a claims form to fill out, or be directed to download one from the provider’s website.

You will need supporting evidence for your claim, such as receipts, booking confirmations or flight reservations. It is also wise to keep a record of any correspondence you have with the insurance provider. Such evidence could help in case there is any dispute with your claim.

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