Holidaymakers are being advised to check the terms of their travel policies as insurers pause or restrict cover they are offering to new customers.
Malcolm Tarling, from the Association of British Insurers, answers some key questions about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on travel insurance.
– Will my travel insurance cover my holiday being cancelled?
Travel insurance policies are likely to cover non-refundable costs if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to a country.
Mr Tarling said insurance may cover “lots of different aspects” such as flights, hotels and excursions that may come as part of a package.
– How quickly are insurance companies paying out claims?
Insurers are doing all they can to pay valid claims quickly, Mr Tarling said, adding: “That’s what they are there to do, that’s what customers will likely expect of them.”
– What if I don’t want to travel because of the virus?
Holidaymakers who choose not to travel risk losing their money for flights, hotels and pre-booked excursions if they were booked on a non-refundable basis.
“If you can get to the destination and the Government are not advising against travel, then most policies are not going to cover you,” Mr Tarling said.
But he advised anyone with concerns to talk to their travel insurer, tour operator or airline.
– Am I covered if my holiday destination goes into lockdown?
Mr Tarling advised holidaymakers to check for “travel disruption cover” as it may protect them should they be put into lockdown while overseas.
“That can also compensate you for additional costs like hotel charges if you cannot get those back from any other source,” he said.
“But you do need to check your policy, because not all policies will cover disruption protection.”
– What about life insurance?
For those concerned about life insurance policies in the event of a coronavirus-related death, Mr Tarling said insurers will pay out claims “as normal”.
“There is no coronavirus exclusion clauses on life insurance policies, they will pay out as normal.”
– What about insurance for airlines going bust?
Mr Tarling advised holidaymakers to look at their policies as some insurers offer “scheduled airline failure insurance”.
He said: “In the very unwelcome event of your air carrier going bust, if that does happen and if you’ve got this insurance, you may be able to claim on your insurance policy.”
– Will affordable travel insurance still be available?
Mr Tarling said that regardless of how the “unprecedented situation” unfolds, insurers will “continue to offer travel insurance in the future, as competitively priced as possible”.
– How are insurance companies reacting to the outbreak?
Due to the fast-moving situation, Mr Tarling said insurers were keeping developments under “constant review”.
“Insurers, for their part, are watching the developments, they will be reacting to how this disease spreads, how it’s contained,” he said.