The coronavirus crisis has thrown the entire travel industry into an unprecedented state, with airlines cancelling flights, airports shutting down, cruises banned from ports and countries worldwide rapidly shutting their borders. As a result, nearly half of the UK’s major travel insurance providers have pulled the sale of new insurance policies amid the crisis.
Meanwhile, many of those who continue to sell new policies have amended their terms and conditions to exclude disruption or cancellation as a result of the pandemic.
This could be worrying to some who are intending on future travel, particularly those embarking on travel deemed essential in the near future, and hope to purchase a policy to protect that journey.
Consumer rights advocate Which? contacted 75 providers serving the nation to uncover what kind of amendments they have made to policies and whether Britons could face concerning financial losses.
The good news is, regardless of whether an insurer has cancelled sales of new policies or is amending the terms and conditions to those it is currently offering, travellers with policies purchased prior to the March 11 declaration of a pandemic should still be covered.
Whether coronavirus has left you with a lost holiday booking or a cancelled flight, these policies should work to cover non-refundable costs so long as customers purchased adequate coverage.
Which?’s researchers found that 34 insurers, including well-known insurers such as Aviva, LV= and Direct Line, have temporarily suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers as a result of the pandemic.
A further 10, including Axa, Saga and Staysure, have changed aspects of their policies making them more restrictive.
On March 11, following the World Health Organisations decision to name COVID-19 a pandemic, LV= issued a statement saying: “In light of the significant impact that coronavirus is having globally, LV= General Insurance has taken the difficult decision to pause the sale of travel insurance to new customers.
“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the number of policies sold double. While LV=is a major motor and home insurer, we are a small travel insurance provider and it’s important for the long-term benefit of all our customers that our exposure to this market remains at a sustainable level for the overall business.
“We considered a number of different options, such as excluding cover or significantly increasing prices for new customers but we strongly believe this temporary measure of pausing the sale of new policies and focusing on our existing customers is the right decision.
“There is no change for existing customers who already have a policy with us. They can contact us in the normal way if they need to make a claim, and we are also still offering renewals to our existing customers so they can continue to be insured with us.”
Hand luggage: How to keep your luggage clean from coronavirus [INSIGHT]
Pound to euro exchange rate: GBP shoots up to fresh two-week high [GRAPH]
Coronavirus: Post Office issues travel money warning to Britons [WARNING]
Similarly, upon suspending new sales Direct Line released a statement saying: “Due to the impact that coronavirus is having across the world we have experienced a huge increase in demand for travel insurance.
“Our priority is to protect and service our existing customers and therefore we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the sale of travel insurance to new customers so that we can focus on our existing customers.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Aviva told Express.co.uk: “Following a review of Aviva’s travel insurance, we have decided to adjust our cover to reflect the current risks posed by Coronavirus.
“This means that while new Aviva direct travel insurance customers can still purchase our core travel insurance, they will not be able to select our ‘travel disruption’ or ‘airspace closure’ add-ons.”
However, while existing customers are still protected, the options for new customers are becoming increasingly limited.
While the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has urged Britons to avoid all non-essential travel, while a stringent lockdown is in place across the UK, there may be those who must embark on essential travel in coming weeks and are seeking protection.
Though some insurers are still continuing to sell new packages, many have amended their policies to rule out coronavirus coverage.
For example, a spokesperson for AXA told Express.co.uk: “Any new policy purchased, or new trip booked covered by an existing annual multi-trip policy after 3 pm on 13th March 2020, will not cover any cancellation claim in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We will continue to cover any medical claims because of coronavirus if you are travelling to an area where no FCO advice against travel exists.”
Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, said: “Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the travel insurance market, with dozens of providers amending policies or pulling them all together.
“This is creating confusion and uncertainty for consumers, who may feel they simply can not make plans for future trips in the circumstances.
“The government, insurers and the travel industry must work together to tackle the huge challenge posed by coronavirus, to ensure people feel confident enough to travel in the knowledge that they will be covered.”
Which? is currently advising those purchasing new policies to check the details and exclusions of the coverage prior to buying.
Which companies are still selling travel insurance policies?
Of the insurers surveyed by Which? the below are still selling new policies, with some amendments, at the time of writing:
The insurance firm is still selling policies to new customers but will not provide cover on those policies for coronavirus-related claims.
Axa continues to provide policies to new customers but without coronavirus-related cancellation cover.
Allianz Assistance UK
From March 12 the insurer has ruled out cover on new policies for coronavirus-related claims.
From March 13 the insurer is providing no new cover for coronavirus-related claims.
As of March 16, there is no new cover from coronavirus-related claims.
On March 17 the insurer stated they could no longer offer coronavirus-related claim coverage on new policies.
Though new policies can be purchased, they will not cover coronavirus-related incidents.
As of March 18 new policies will offer no protection against coronavirus issues.
From March 13 the insurer will provide no new cover for coronavirus claims.
While new customers can still invest in a policy, there will be no travel disruption extension for new customers.
Which companies are no longer selling travel insurance?
Insurance firms currently halting the sale of new policies include:
Now I Can Travel
Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 23:01:00 +0000