I have booked a family ski holiday to France in April and we have every intention of still going, despite coronavirus.
I already have travel insurance through my bank account with Nationwide.
What do I need to check for to see if I am covered if the trip gets cancelled due to FCO advice on coronavirus, or France taking anti-virus steps?
Also, if I need to buy a new policy, will it cover me if I get it now and what should I look out for in it?
We reveal what holidaymakers need to check on their travel insurance policy before flying
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: We have been swamped with similar coronavirus-related insurance questions regarding future travel in 2020.
The virus outbreak is ever changing with more countries announcing new, and progressively more extreme, measures every day in a bid to combat the spread of the disease.
This has ranged from people being advised to wash their hands regularly to millions of people being quarantined in Italy.
This has made it difficult for those with holidays booked in the coming weeks and months to know what to do.
Should they cancel to keep themselves safe or should they wait and see if they can take that trip after all?
For those who have booked travel to places now put on a blacklist by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the choice has been taken out of their hands, but for those travelling to other regions, they have a decision to make.
One step to take to ensure you don’t lose out on all of the money you have already spent on a trip is to buy comprehensive travel insurance. This should ideally be done as soon as you book.
There has been a surge in travellers purchasing policies, just in case they have to cancel.
Policies have risen 170 per cent since the coronavirus outbreak, according to comparison website, Go Compare.
However, buying any policy is not enough and travellers should read theirs through thoroughly before they decide to purchase it. The devil is in the smallprint.
Travel insurance policy sales are up by over 170% since the coronavirus outbreak, data says
Check your policy
You say you already have insurance but it is important to check the policy covers you for all the possibilities you may need to claim on.
For example, coronavirus is currently being classed as an epidemic, it may fall under the same definition for insurers, which means you should check your policy covers you for this.
Some insurers will also provide cover under ‘travel disruption as a result of FCO restrictions’ and ‘cancellation due to FCO restrictions’.
Meanwhile, around half of travel policies cover ‘cancellation due to compulsory quarantine’ – again, holidaymakers should ensure their insurance has this written in to it.
If you need to buy a new policy, after finding that your current one does not cover all the necessities, you should still be able to buy a new policy that will cover your holiday in April as, so far, there are no restrictions to travelling to France.
While this could all change before then, if you buy a new policy now, you should be able to claim on it for any cancelled flights or bookings, if France becomes a no-travel zone – the best advice is to speak directly with an insurer to check this before forking out for cover.
Insure: Travellers are advised to check their cover levels Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance
Key is to have cancellation/curtailment cover
Brian Brown of Defaqto replies: What any customer in this situation needs to do is look firstly at the policy section labelled ‘Cancellation/Curtailment Cover’ or similar.
They should look to see if one of the perils insured against is the FCO advising against all, or all but essential, travel to a region.
If that isn’t mentioned they should look at the exclusions to cancellation cover to see if the policy won’t pay out in the event the FCO advises against travel.
If the policy section makes no mention of the FCO advice either way, it is likely that it will not cover the customer if the FCO advice changes.
Sometimes though, insurers, especially those with a brand to protect, will pay claims in these circumstances even if the policy doesn’t strictly cater for this eventuality, for example, this happened a lot with the Icelandic volcanic ash.
If they decide to buy a new policy now, they must make sure that it will cover them if the FCO changes its advice and tells people not to travel.
The good news for you is that, if you have the Nationwide Flex Plus account, and provided you booked your trip before the FCO travel advice changes, the travel policy provided with their bank account does cover them against FCO advice not to travel.
I would still ring the bank/insurer just to be sure, however, as the policy wording was changed last November.
FlyBe recently announced that it had ceased trading, blaming the coronavirus outbreak
Also look for SAFI cover…
Sally Jaques, of GoCompare travel insurance, replies: The situation is developing all the time and travellers are advised to compare cover closely to meet the specific challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak.
Buying travel cover shouldn’t just be a box-ticking exercise where the cheapest policy will do.
The potential risks are very specific, and you should check you have the relevant cover and that you understand how your policy will work.
We are advising people to check their cover levels for 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.
Patrick Ikhena, head of travel at Compare the Market, replies: The date of the trip should not impact the validity of a claim.
This is because the insurer will factor in the trip date at the point of providing a quote before the customer purchases the policy.
The policy wording will usually show the procedures a customer needs to go through in the event of a cancellation.
Customers should always keep a record of the time and date when announcements concerning their trip are made, to refer back to in the event of a claim.
As long as the customer purchased the policy before being aware of their trip being disrupted, and has satisfied the conditions of their policy, then the insurer should pay out in line with what the policyholder is entitled to.
Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: While getting the correct insurance is important, for some people it will be too late.
Unfortunately, anyone who has bought insurance after coronavirus was a known issue in the destination they’re travelling to, is unlikely to be covered.
If someone hasn’t bought any insurance at all, they will find it incredibly difficult to get their money back, unless the airline they are flying with has cancelled the flights.
To find out all the answers to your most common questions regarding coronavirus, click here.
Advice for travellers
Go Compare has compiled ten top tips for travellers to keep in mind when planning their holiday or attempting to travel.
This will ensure they keep themselves and others safe – as well as be prepared in the event their holiday is cancelled.
• Make sure you have travel insurance in place as soon as you’ve booked.
• 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.
• If your destination has travel restrictions imposed before you buy your policy, an insurer won’t pay out.
• 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.
• Get in touch with your insurer to check cover and restrictions, or for more specific advice relating to your policy.
• Check cover levels for SAFI (Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance).
• If booking a ‘staycation’, you still need travel insurance to cover the risk of cancellation.
• Keep a close eye on FCO travel restrictions.
• Take your travel insurance policy number and emergency contact telephone number with you when you travel and check the claims procedures.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.