With the outbreak now a full-blown pandemic, many of our precious Easter holiday plans are looking precarious.
But what happens if you can’t go, or don’t want to go and will travel insurance cover you?
Here we talk you through everything you need to know.
With the outbreak now a full-blown pandemic, many of our precious Easter holiday plans are looking precarious (stock photo)
What if I get the virus and can’t travel?
You should be able to make a claim for financial losses on your travel insurance policy. You will likely need a note from a doctor or your employer.
You should also be able to make a claim if it is a close family member or travelling companion who falls ill – or, in the very worst case, dies. If you do not have travel insurance or your policy does not include cancellation cover, contact your travel provider.
They may allow you to rearrange your trip as a gesture of goodwill or offer a part refund. This may be subject to a cancellation charge.
What if my accommodation or flight is cancelled?
You should receive a full refund or be re-routed free. If you booked through a travel agent, they should organise a refund or alternative travel. If your journey involves two flights and you booked each leg separately, you may only receive a refund for the one that is cancelled.
You will not be entitled to any additional compensation as the reason for the disruption is beyond the airline’s control.
If just your flight is cancelled, contact your accommodation provider to see if they will refund you. Otherwise you may be able to claim the cost on your travel insurance, providing you have cover for consequential losses.
What if my destination is now off limits?
If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel there, airlines, cruise companies and tour operators should offer you a full refund or alternative travel. For accommodation, car hire or excursions, your travel insurance may cover the cost.
If you travel against FCO advice this will likely invalidate your insurance policy. If your cruise itinerary is changed you may be able to get a refund or credit, but this is not guaranteed and it is likely your trip would need to be significantly impacted.
Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 area looked clear of all but a few passengers earlier today. Pictured: Information on passengers arriving from northern Italy
What if I don’t want to risk travelling?
Insurers will not cover what they term ‘disinclination’ to travel – even if the reason is a legitimate concern such as a pandemic.
So if the FCO has not advised against all but essential travel to your destination – as it has with China and Italy currently – you may struggle to make a claim.
The exception may be if your doctor has advised you not to travel to an area because you have an underlying medical condition. But insurers will make decisions on a case-by-case basis and you will need a doctor’s note.
If you have failed to inform your insurer of pre-existing medical conditions, they could refuse your claim. It may also be worth asking the tour operator or airline if they will offer you alternative dates as a gesture of goodwill.
I haven’t booked travel insurance – can I still get it?
The Association of British Insurers had said that someone buying travel insurance now should be covered if the FCO later advises against travel to that country.
However, experts say it is now highly unlikely that holidaymakers will be able to find a policy without an exclusion for coronavirus-related claims. Some insurers have even stopped selling travel cover. If you have an annual policy you should check with your insurer before booking trips.
Ensure you have ‘travel disruption’ cover. It would also be sensible to opt for a policy with ‘scheduled airline failure’ protection.
Insurers will not cover what they term ‘disinclination’ to travel – even if the reason is a legitimate concern such as a pandemic. Pictured: Heathrow on Thursday
Will my credit card provider pay out?
If you are struggling to get a refund for a cancelled flight, accommodation, car hire or excursion you may be able to claim your money back.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your lender is jointly liable for spending over £100 if you do not receive the goods and services promised.
If you paid by debit card you may be able to ask your bank to reverse the transaction by making a chargeback request.
What if I paid using air miles?
If you booked a flight using air miles and now need to cancel, you should get your points back under standard cancellation rules. You may need to pay an administration fee. If you booked a hotel using loyalty points, you should usually get them back if you cancel 48 hours in advance.
Will my insurer pay if I’m stuck abroad?
First contact your tour operator or airline to see if they can move your return date or help with accommodation.
Should your trip be cut short or if you are confined to your hotel on medical advice, you may also be able to claim for curtailment.
If the Government advice is to come home, call your airline and the FCO for information about possible repatriation flights.
You should also be able to make a claim if it is a close family member or travelling companion who falls ill – or, in the very worst case, dies (stock photo)
What if an event I’m going to is axed?
You should receive a refund – although you may encounter difficulties if you bought them via a third party. You have more protection if you purchased tickets as part of a package holiday.
If the event is going ahead but you don’t want to go, refund requests will be decided by the organiser. You may be able to resell the tickets.
Will my EHIC still cover me in Europe?
The European Health Insurance card is expected to remain in force until the end of December and should work as normal if you get coronavirus. An EHIC will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or repatriation. It is not valid on cruises.
I was about to book my summer holiday – should I go ahead?
The outbreak is expected to peak in the UK at Easter. There is no guarantee when things will go back to normal travel-wise.
With travel providers desperately trying to attract customers with cheap deals, it might be tempting to book in the hope that everything will be fine in a few months.
However, it will now be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a travel insurance policy that will provide cover should you later need to cancel as a result of the virus. It may not be worth the risk.
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