Travel insurance has never been more in focus than it is now, with thousands of would-be holidaymakers facing cancelled plans amid the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, as a result of the sheer volume of refund requests, cancellations and insurance claims, many big-name insurers have been forced to pause the sale of new policies.
Among the big names are the Post Office and LV=, though customers with existing policies in place are still covered.
Meanwhile, those that continue to sell new policies may have amended their terms and conditions to omit any problems related to coronavirus following the World Health Organisation naming the virus a global pandemic.
This is troublesome news, particularly for those who want to plan future holidays, but are unsure of how the pandemic will pan out in the coming months.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk Nicky Kelvin from The Points Guy discussed just how vital travel insurance is, and what small terms and conditions holidaymakers need to be aware of moving forward.
READ MORE:Holidays: Travel expert reveals future of travel
Travel insurance: Holidaymakers should ensure they buy an adequate policy
Travel insurance: Customers should be sure their policy covers every eventuality
“When the World Health Organisation declared a global emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, airlines cancelled flights, airports began screening travellers and some countries implemented entry restrictions or quarantine procedures for potentially infected travellers,” he says.
“At the same time, many travellers cancelled, re-routed or postponed their travel to avoid the highest-risk regions and some were disappointed to learn that their travel insurance wouldn’t cover their trip cancellation or interruption.”
While travellers might automatically assume that their policy is a general cover-all for any situation, this might not necessarily be the case.
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance provide reimbursement of a specified amount per person per trip for eligible travel expenses or arrangements that must be cancelled or interrupted. However, policies vary on the definition of eligible reasons for cancelling or postponing a trip and the types of expenses that can be reimbursed. Most policies won’t cover you if you simply decide not to travel — even if your decision is based on avoiding an outbreak of illness at your destination.
“Trip cancellation and interruption insurance provide reimbursement of a specified amount per person per trip for eligible travel expenses or arrangements that must be cancelled or interrupted,” the expert continues.
“However, policies vary on the definition of eligible reasons for cancelling or postponing a trip and the types of expenses that can be reimbursed.
“Most policies won’t cover you if you simply decide not to travel — even if your decision is based on avoiding an outbreak of illness at your destination.”
Travel insurance: Holidaymakers issued warning for future travel [WARNING]
Travel insurance: Expert reveals important policy loopholes [INTERVIEW]
Holidays: Hotel stays could be very different after coronavirus [COMMENT]
At present, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has extended its travel warning for an “indefinite” period of time, which could be grounds to cancel.
Nicky adds: “Most policies do cover cancellation or interruption if you are quarantined. And, some policies cover cancellation or interruption protection if your destination is under a mandatory evacuation.”
Even so, travellers with impending plans which they are uncertain about are advised to wait until the travel operator cancels.
In this instance, the travel provider or airline should refund the money – though this has become increasingly difficult as the number of refund requests rises.
“If you can’t cancel for free and you will lose all your money, don’t cancel,” adds money saving expert Martin Lewis.
“Then leave it and if you can’t go hope that by that time the Foreign Office has said you can’t go so your travel insurance will be impacted.”
Travel insurance: Many Britons are looking forward to travel again in the future
Even despite the current chaos though, many Britons remain optimistic about future travel.
Furthermore, airlines such as easyJet have launched tempting flight sales for the winter and beyond in a bid to win back custom.
However, even those on a budget should ensure they have enough money to pay for an adequate policy.
Nicky warns: “Ideally, you will never have to actually use your travel insurance while you travel, but if something unexpectedly goes wrong, you will be very grateful you have it.”
Travellers should be aware of the small print of their policies moving forward though, particularly when it comes to the pandemic.
Nicky continues: “The fine print of these policies can be long, complex and dull to read, but it’s very important you understand exactly what you are buying, what is covered and what isn’t.
“Don’t assume every single item, situation or expense will be covered by a card’s travel insurance, or that every policy will be the same regardless of the credit — or charge — card.
“The coverage and conditions may be different from what you are used to from another insurance policy.”
The travel expert also urges budding travellers to be certain everything they need is covered in the policy
“Coverage options offer different levels of protection and prices are decided at the provider’s discretion.
“A comprehensive insurance policy will usually cover medical treatment, political evacuation, theft, cancellation, baggage loss or damage and public liability.
“The limits on each of these sections will be different. For example, if you travel with lots of expensive baggage and equipment, you will want to pay a higher premium for higher limits to be able to claim the full amount if you had all your belongings stolen.
“It may be tempting to simply choose the lowest price and click through to purchase, but be warned. The cheapest search result may be cheap for a reason. It’s prudent to do some research on the provider first.”
Though it can come with an added cost, holidaymakers should aim to be covered in any eventuality.
“Choosing a travel insurance policy won’t be as exciting as finding a great flight deal or booking a luxury hotel for your travels. But it is arguably more important than both,” says Nicky.
“If you’re considering purchasing a travel insurance policy, be aware that the cost of these policies, what is called the ‘premium’ you pay in exchange for coverage, varies hugely.
“As you are searching for a policy you will be asked specific questions in order to obtain a quote e.g. age, activities and valuable personal items of each traveller, and these factors alter the price significantly.
“You need to be absolutely honest about all of these factors to ensure that you are fully covered, especially about your health and medical situation, as most policies will not cover an existing condition.”
Though travel insurance is widely spoken about, just three years ago in 2017, around 10 million holidaymakers admitted that they travelled without the correct insurance or any cover at all.
However, following the disruption and devastation left in the wake of the pandemic, this is likely to change for good.
Nicky concludes: “‘If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,’ is a saying that we really believe in TPG UK.’”