I have booked a family ski holiday to France in April and we are determined to go despite the coronavirus.
I already have travel insurance through my Nationwide bank account.
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What should I look for to see if I’m covered if the trip is canceled due to FCO advice on coronavirus or France taking anti-virus measures?
And if I have to buy a new policy, will I be covered if I get it now and what should I look out for?
We reveal what vacationers should check on their travel insurance before flying
Grace Gausden, This is money, replies: We have been inundated with similar coronavirus-related insurance questions regarding future travel in 2020.
The virus outbreak is constantly evolving, with more countries announcing new and increasingly extreme measures every day to curb the spread of the disease.
This ranges from people being advised to wash their hands regularly to millions of people being quarantined in Italy.
This has made it difficult for those who have booked a holiday in the coming weeks and months to know what to do.
Should they cancel to protect themselves or should they wait and see if they can make that trip after all?
For those who have booked trips to places now blacklisted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the choice has been left out of their hands, but for those traveling to other regions, they have to make a decision.
One step to take to make sure you don’t miss out on all the money you’ve already spent on a trip is to get comprehensive travel insurance. This should ideally be done as soon as you book.
Travelers purchasing policies have increased dramatically, in case they need to cancel.
According to comparison website Go Compare, policies have risen 170 percent since the coronavirus outbreak.
However, buying a policy is not enough and travelers should read theirs thoroughly before deciding to buy it. The devil is in the fine print.
Travel insurance sales are up more than 170% since the coronavirus outbreak, data says
Check your policy
You say that you are already insured, but it is important to check whether the policy covers you all the options you are entitled to.
For example, coronavirus is currently classified as an epidemic, it may fall under the same definition for insurers, meaning you should check if your policy covers you for this.
The quick and easy way to save on travel insurance
To quickly save money on travel insurance, it is best to use a comparison site.
If you haven’t done this before, it can save you hundreds of dollars on a renewal quote.
This is a simple and easy way to compare prices and while the results on most comparison sites will be broadly the same, they may vary slightly so it’s worth checking out a few.
This is Money has partnered with Compare the market to help you find good travel insurance.
Some insurers don’t appear on comparison sites and are worth checking out right away. The two most important are: Direct connection and Aviva.
Some insurers will also provide coverage under ‘travel disruption due to FCO restrictions’ and ‘cancellation due to FCO restrictions’.
Meanwhile, about half of travel policies cover ‘cancellation due to mandatory quarantine’ – again, holidaymakers should make sure their insurance mentions this.
If you need to buy a new policy after you have determined that your current one does not cover everything you need, you should still be able to buy a new policy to cover your holiday in April as there are no travel restrictions to France so far.
While this could all change before then, if you buy a new policy now you should be able to claim it for canceled flights or bookings, should France become a no-travel zone – the best advice is to talk directly to an insurer to check before taking cover.
Insure: Travelers are advised to check their coverage levels
The key is to have cancellation/discount coverage
Brian Brown of Defaqto replies: What any customer in this situation should do is first look at the policy section labeled “Cancellation/Containment Coverage” or something similar.
They need to see if one of the risks insured against is that the FCO advises against all, or virtually essential, travel to a region.
If it isn’t mentioned, they should look at the cancellation cover exclusions to see if the policy won’t pay out in the event that the FCO advises against travel.
If the policy section does not mention the FCO advice, it is likely that it will not cover the customer if the FCO advice changes.
However, sometimes insurers, especially those with a brand to protect, will pay claims in these circumstances, even if the policy does not strictly provide for this option. This happened a lot, for example, with the Icelandic volcanic ash.
Now if they decide to take out a new policy, they should make sure it covers them if the FCO changes its advice and tells people not to travel.
The good news for you is that, if you have a Nationwide Flex Plus account and you booked your trip before the FCO travel advice changes, the travel policy provided with their bank account will cover them against FCO advice not to travel.
However, I would still call the bank/insurer just to be sure, since the policy conditions were changed last November.
FlyBe recently announced it had ceased trading, blaming the coronavirus outbreak
Also look for SAFI coverage…
Sally Jacques, of GoCompare travel insurance, answers: The situation is constantly evolving and travelers are advised to properly compare coverage to address the specific challenges of the coronavirus outbreak.
Buying travel coverage shouldn’t just be a check-off where the cheapest policy will suffice.
The potential risks are very specific and you should check that you have the relevant cover and understand how your policy will work.
We are advising people to check their coverage levels for Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance in light of the Flybe collapse as we may see more airlines struggling with the coronavirus knock-on effect.
SAFI covers your flights if your airline goes into administration and stops trading, so if your travel insurance includes SAFI, you’ll get your money back for the cost of your flights.
Patrick Ikhena, Head of Travel at Compare the Market, replies: The date of travel must not affect the validity of a claim.
This is because the insurer takes into account the travel date when providing a quote before the customer purchases the policy.
The policy text usually outlines the procedures a customer must go through in the event of a cancellation.
Customers should always keep a record of the time and date when announcements about their trip are made so that they can go back in the event of a claim.
As long as the customer purchased the policy before being aware of the interruption of his trip, and has complied with the terms of his policy, the insurer must pay out in accordance with what the policyholder is entitled to.
Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: While getting the right insurance is important, for some people it will be too late.
Unfortunately, anyone who has taken out insurance after the coronavirus was a known problem at the destination they are traveling to is unlikely to be covered.
If someone has not taken out insurance at all, they will find it incredibly difficult to get their money back unless the airline they are flying with has canceled the flights.
For all the answers to your most frequently asked questions about the coronavirus, click here.
Advice for travelers
Go Compare has rounded up ten top tips for travelers to keep in mind when planning their vacation or attempting to travel.
This will ensure that they keep themselves and others safe – as well as being prepared in the event that their holiday is cancelled.
• Make sure you have travel insurance as soon as you book.
• If you have insurance and the FCO advises against traveling to your destination, you should be covered, although this is sometimes covered by additional ‘travel disruption coverage’.
• Anyone who actively attempts to travel to an area where a travel restriction has been imposed by the FCO is now at risk of invalidating their travel policy.
• If travel restrictions have been imposed at your destination before you take out your policy, an insurer will not pay out.
• Travel insurance can provide cancellation coverage if you are advised not to travel for personal medical reasons, but not if you are simply not inclined to travel right now.
• Contact your insurer to check coverage and limitations, or for more specific advice regarding your policy.
• Check coverage levels for SAFI (Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance).
• If you book a ‘staycation’, you still need travel insurance to cover the cancellation risk.
• Keep a close eye on FCO’s travel restrictions.
• Take your travel insurance policy number and emergency telephone number with you when you travel and check claim procedures.
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