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Coronavirus: Are you able to claim your Travel Insurance as you cancel your travel plans?

Coronavirus: Are you able to claim your Travel Insurance as you cancel your travel plans?representation image
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As more and more people catch the coronavirus around the globe, you might want to cancel your holiday and instead stay at home.

As more and more people catch the coronavirus around the globe, you might want to cancel your holiday and instead stay at home.

But can you report any damages on your travel insurance? We clarify your rights here.

The deadly coronavirus has quickly spread across the globe, currently with more than 93,000 reported cases so far.

Below we explain what to do if you're keen to cancel your holiday due to the outbreak.


Can I get a refund if I cancel or rearrange my holiday due to the coronavirus?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has recommended against all travel to the Chinese Hubei Region, and all but necessary travel to the rest of mainland China, parts of South Korea and 11 cities in northern Italy.

So if you want to cancel a trip somewhere else you might find it hard to get a refund.

This is because travel insurance isn't designed to cover "disinclination to travel" where the FCO advice hasn't changed to advise against travel, said the Association of British Insurers.

In fact, according to the TravelInsurance.com comparison site, only one out of every ten insurance policies can refund the money.

Some plans do payout for a limited list of reasons and it is unlikely that coronavirus will be a part of them.

The only plans that will benefit must include provisions on "canceling for any reason," and only 9% of the policies sold have these.

If yours does, keep in mind that you'll need to cancel your trip at least 48 hours before the departure date and you should only expect to get 50-75 per cent of the holiday cost reimbursed, the site added.

If you're planning a trip to China, Italy or Tenerife

If you'd planned a trip to mainland China or affected towns in Italy, you should get a full refund from your airline or travel company.

That means you are not likely to be given a refund if you decide to cancel your trip because there is no official reason for you not to fly.

This is because the FCO has cautioned against any transportation to these places.

But you won't be entitled to any insurance, as a disease outbreak is considered an exceptional situation, such as flight delay compensation under EU regulations.

If on a connecting flight you were scheduled to fly through China, call your airline or travel agent to be re-routed at no additional expense.

If you were planning to attend events that have now been cancelled in Italy, you might be able to receive a refund from the event organizers or the insurance provider.

Some policies may provide cover for event cancellation, Stuart Lloyd, travel insurance expert at Columbus Direct, told The Sun.

It's important not to ignore travel advice by the FCO, or you risk invalidating your insurance policy if you decide to act against it.

Last week, the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife was placed into lockdown after an Italian couple were found to have contracted the illness.

Guests are not allowed to enter or leave the hotel but so far, the FCO hasn't issued any warnings against travelling to the Spanish island.

Latest travel advice after coronavirus outbreak

BELOW'S a list of the latest travel advice for popular destinations.

Spain

Thailand

Italy

Tenerife

France

Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan

Your refund rights are contingent on how you booked your holiday if the region you are traveling to has been designated an "all but necessary travel" zone.

Because government policy has not explicitly prohibited flying, those who have booked a separate flight are not to travel.

Your refund rights if the area you're travelling to has been declared an "all but essential travel" zone depends on how you booked your holiday.

As government guidance hasn't strictly prohibited travel, those who've booked flights separately are not automatically entitled to a refund if they decide to cancel their trip.

It's up to the airline's discretion whether they're giving you a refund or deciding to change your flights.

But if you have booked a package vacation then you have the right to receive a refund from the tour operator or travel agency.

Instead, if you don't want to, they will give you a suitable alternative holiday somewhere but you don't have to take it.

What happens if I don't have any travel insurance?

If you do not have travel insurance, having it now is worthwhile to cover yourself when things go wrong.

This will protect you as long as there are no travel bans for your destination yet declared by the FCO.

Instead, if your insurance does not cover cancellations of the coronavirus, it is worth contacting the travel operator.

No support is promised but it could arrange an alternate holiday or encourage you to rebook at a later date.

Free cancelations are not assured if you have booked through a tour operator which is covered by ATOL

What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?

TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some 'must have' features you should look out for from the Money Advice Service

.Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA

Repatriation service – The costs of getting you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy

Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday

Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control

Delay – You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control

Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.

If you're worried about travelling due to existing age and health concerns

Coronavirus is said to be lethal to those with existing medical conditions or the elderly, so if you want to postpone your trip to infected areas to avoid the risk, it is understandable. Unfortunately, if you cancel your trip because of this you do not have the right to an instant refund.

Unfortunately, if you cancel your trip because of this you do not have the right to an instant refund.

But the decision will be down to the airline's or holiday companies ' discretion so it's worth talking with them through the choices.

To do so, you may need to have health certificates to improve your case.

Double check with your travel insurer if they refuse, as your policy can cover it.

The British Insurers Association (ABI) claims most of its affiliates will cover trips if you have to cancel due to a pre-existing condition which is listed on your policy.

In this case, if your condition could put you at greater risk of contracting coronavirus, you could get a full refund even if you're not going to a country on the FCO's warning list.

But the ABI warns that this will be on a case-by-case basis and whether you're covered will depend on both your policy and your medical condition.

Some insurers will require proof of this from your GP, and be aware that if the people you're travelling with have a separate insurance policy, they might not be able to cancel and get a refund just because you have.

What happens if I get ill while on holiday?

Your travel insurance will pay for the medical costs of being treated for coronavirus, but generally not if you get ill in a country the FCO has advised against travelling to.

Most travel insurers offer a 24-hour emergency medical advice hotline, so if you feel unwell contact your provider straight away.

Similar to a common cold, the symptoms include runny nose, headache, cough, nausea, shortness of breath, chills, and body ache.

But if an infection with coronavirus spreads to the lower respiratory tract (the windpipe and your lungs), this can cause pneumonia.

If you are placed in quarantine while on a package vacation then you will not be entitled to any reimbursement from the company, even if you believe your holiday has been ruined.

But if being in quarantine means you have skipped yours, the holiday company is obligated to provide assistance and rearrange alternate flights home.

Your travel insurance is much more likely to pay out in cases like this so it's worth letting them know about the situation.

This is because the defense is against the package holiday supplier malfunction, and not for a major medical outbreak such as coronavirus.

Wherever possible, some travel companies also give troubled holidaymakers support.

Greek carrier Aegean Airlines, for example, is giving passengers with flights to any destination before March 20 the ability to rebook for free.

If you've booked different flights and accommodation, ask the airlines and hotels if they can help.

We've done a round-up of what the travel agent, package holiday provider and airline will cover if coronavirus affects your holiday.


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