- Holidaymakers are urged to arrange the right travel insurance NOW before more holiday destinations are subject to official travel restrictions
- Sales of travel insurance still up over 170% following Coronavirus outbreak1;
- Buy early message getting through: Biggest surge of sales is now to cover Easter and Summer holidays;
- Travellers urged to check details of cover, get SAFI cover and insurance to cover their staycations.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy.
Sally Jaques from GoCompare Travel Insurance, offers advice to travellers who were heading to Italy in the next few weeks and those who’ve booked their holiday elsewhere but not bought their travel insurance yet:
“If you had plans to travel to Italy in the next few weeks and booked a package trip through a tour operator you need to talk to them first to see what arrangements can be made to rebook your holiday for another date or different destination. Insurers will look to tour operators to take the lead and consider a claim on an insurance policy as a last resort.
“If you booked your trip independently, i.e. you booked your flights and then your hotel and transfers yourself, it is likely you will have cover under the cancellation section of your policy, as the government advice is not to travel. That is of course if you have travel insurance already in place.
“Remember, if you only buy your travel insurance now, after Coronavirus caused the nationwide lockdown, you are unlikely to be covered. That is why the advice is always to buy your travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. With other parts of the world also dealing with outbreaks it is essential travellers have cover in place BEFORE official FCO guidance advises against travel to affected areas.”
GoCompare’s ten-point plan for travellers:
- If you were travelling to Italy in the next few weeks, talk to your tour operator to see what options you have:
- If you booked your trip independently, talk to your insurer
- If you booked independently and don’t have travel insurance cover already in place, it’s unlikely you’ll have anything to fall back on if you can’t make alternative arrangements yourself.
- For those travelling to other parts of the world, make sure you have travel insurance in place as soon as you’ve booked your holiday; Popular tourist destinations such as Spain and France are also dealing with serious outbreaks and may be subject to travel restrictions in the future. Get in touch with your insurer to check cover and restrictions, or for more specific advice relating to your policy;
- If your destination has travel restrictions imposed before you buy your policy, an insurer won't pay out;
- If you have insurance in place and the FCO advises against travel to your destination, you should be covered, although sometimes this will be under an extra called ‘travel disruption cover’;
- Anyone actively trying to travel to an area which has a travel restriction imposed by the FCO would now risk invalidating their travel policy;
- Travel insurance may provide cancellation cover if you are advised not to travel for personal medical reasons, but not if you are simply disinclined to travel now;
- The Coronavirus crisis is putting financial pressure on airlines. Check cover levels for SAFI (Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance) as this is the particular area of cover you will need if you book flights and the airline goes bust before you travel. Paying for your flights with a credit card may give you protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you don’t have insurance in place, but having appropriate travel insurance is a better option.
- Take your travel insurance policy number and emergency contact telephone number with you when you travel and check the claims procedures.
Sally Jaques continued: “More travellers are getting the message to buy insurance well ahead of their trip – the largest spike in sales is for policies to cover journeys between one month and six months ahead, covering trips over Easter and the summer holidays.
“The situation is extremely fast moving and travellers are advised to compare cover closely to meet the specific challenges presented by the Coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus is currently being classed as an epidemic, so it may fall under the same definition for insurers. Some insurers will also provide cover under the following:
- Travel disruption as a result of FCO restrictions
- Cancellation due to FCO restrictions
Meanwhile, around half of travel policies cover ‘cancellation due to compulsory quarantine’.3
Sally Jaques continued: “It is important to stress that every policy will vary, and people need to be checking directly with their insurer to understand the cover they have. Equally, anyone who has bought insurance AFTER Coronavirus was a known issue in the destination they’re travelling to, is unlikely to be covered.
“We are also advising people to check their cover levels for SAFI (Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance) in light of the Flybe collapse, as we may see more airlines struggling with the knock-on effect of Coronavirus. SAFI provides cover for your flights if your airline goes into administration and ceases trading, so if your travel insurance includes SAFI, you’ll get your money back for the cost of your flights.
“We’re expecting more people to consider ‘staycations’ rather than flying abroad for holidays due to the ongoing risk. And with searches for ‘UK holidays’ increasing by 119% from December (before Coronavirus was reported) to now, this certainly seems to be the trend.
“In light of this, we’re urging people to still get travel insurance as soon as they book, as this is still needed for a UK holiday. Cover applies for pre-booked holidays of typically one to five consecutive nights away and while medical treatment in the UK is usually excluded, other costs such as pre-paid travel and accommodation for cancellation or curtailment are covered.”
More information on the FCO travel restrictions and general travel advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
For further information please contact:
Anders Nilsson or Louisa Marsden at GoCompare on 01633 654 054 / 01633 655 132
Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845
Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter: @GoCompare
Notes to editors:
- 170% increase based on sales data provided by theidol.com. Correct as of 09.03.20.
- 119% uplift based on Google Trends data for the search term ‘UK holidays’ over the past 7 days.
- Source: Defaqto Matrix of over 1,000 annual travel and single trip travel insurance policies (6 March 2020) – instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.
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