The Coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on travel around the world, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advising British Nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted. A full list can be found on the FCO website. This advice is being kept under constant review. Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice. For the most up to date travel advice, check the FCO website.

In this article we will address questions we are being frequently asked with regard to Coronavirus and travel insurance.

Is it too late to get Travel Insurance to cover cancellation due to Coronavirus?

We always advise people to take out travel insurance as soon as they book a holiday. This is because if you leave your insurance cover until just before you travel, you aren’t covered for anything that may happen that stops you from going – illness, injury etc. A number of insurers stopped selling policies, or policies that covered Coronavirus, in mid-March. Unfortunately, if you haven’t yet taken it out, it’s probably too late.

I’ve already taken out Travel Insurance – am I covered?

Most insurers will still cover you for cancellation if an FCO advisory is put in place for your destination after you’ve taken out the policy and it is still in place when you are due to travel. Right now, the FCO is advising British Nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted. Be sure to check the insurers website for the most up to date information, as many now list their Coronavirus cover.

Although not covering cancellation as a result of you being unable to travel through contracting Coronavirus, if you do contract Coronavirus whilst you are away on holiday, most insurers will pay for your medical treatment including repatriation if this becomes necessary.

I have an annual policy that is about to expire – can I renew it?

It may be difficult to take out new travel insurance at the minute, and near on impossible to get one that will cover cancellation costs related to Coronavirus, but if you have an existing annual travel insurance policy already in place, you may have more success.

Several insurers have stated that, if you already have an annual policy and it is due to expire, if you choose to renew then you will still get the same level of cover on your renewed policy as was offered on the previous one. However, this does not apply to all policies or insurers. Please check directly with your insurer.

If you have a holiday booked and your annual policy expires between now and then, it may be worth renewing your policy with your current insurer, rather than trying to look for a new policy. It is important to arrange cover for the day after your current policy expires, so you have continuous cover.

It is worth noting, that even if a policy gives you cancellation cover for any existing bookings at the time of renewal, you won’t be covered for any new trips you might be planning. This is because travel insurance is designed to provide cover for unexpected events and circumstances. Likewise, you won’t be covered for any trips booked after the FCO published warnings against travel to different countries, or after the Coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic  on 11th March 2020.

Can I get a refund on a Travel Insurance policy I won’t use?

Some travel insurers are now offering pro-rata refunds to customers who have decided against any future travelling and want to cancel their policy. You will need to request a refund and should only do this if you’re certain you’ll no longer need any cover. You are only able to do this if you haven’t made a claim on your policy.

Only do this if you don’t have any future travel still booked and if any refunds for trips that have been cancelled have been settled, as once you cancel your travel insurance policy, you will no longer have any protection.

If you think that you might want to book a trip in the upcoming months, give careful consideration to whether it is worth keeping your existing policy. Taking out new travel insurance can be difficult at the minute, with many insurers no longer taking on new customers.

Travel insurers are obliged by law to offer a full refund within 14 days if they cancel the policy.

I no longer want to travel but there is no FCO warning in place – can I make a claim on my Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance does not usually cover ‘disinclination to travel.’ If you decide not to travel and there is no FCO warning in place for your destination, your travel insurer will not offer a refund.

It is important to check your travel insurance policy to understand exactly what is covered.

Travel insurance policies purchased through Buckingham Insurance include ‘failure of supplier’ for added peace of mind.

Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says “The situation with Coronavirus and travel is constantly evolving. To discuss your travel insurance policy and to make sure you have adequate cover, please contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley). They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.”