With up to one million Britons remaining trapped abroad during the global COVID-19 lockdown, some UK-based travel insurers are now amending policies in a bid to provide vital support to those in need. The amendments are in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which is currently working “round the clock” to repatriate stranded Britons.
Britons currently abroad with an existing travel insurance policy could see their medical coverage extended for a further 60 days free of charge.
This would cover all emergency treatments during the time they are in a foreign country.
The move was announced by The Association of British Insurers on Twitter.
They posted a tweet saying: “As the @foreignoffice continues to work to bring home UK citizens overseas, we are committed to supporting customers stuck abroad – leading travel insurers are extending cover for 60 days to help those trying to return home.”
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Travel insurance: Some UK companies have updated their insurance policies for those trapped abroad
Travel insurance: ABI members will extend medical cover for customers who are stranded abroad
The FCO championed the decision, saying: “The FCO is grateful to them for this gesture of goodwill.”
Travel insurers who are part of ABI travel insurance will be implementing the new policy change.
An ABI spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “ABI members are committed to supporting their customers who are stuck abroad at this difficult time.
“Most travel insurance policies already automatically extend so that people can continue to be covered against the risk of emergency medical treatment when they are stuck abroad due to ongoing travel restrictions.
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“Sometimes these extensions have a limit of up to 30 days, however, given the exceptional circumstances leading ABI members will look to extend this protection to cover the risk of emergency medical treatment for up to a minimum of 60 days, provided customers are making every effort to return home.
“We welcome the Government’s announcement to assist with repatriation given the challenges that many people stuck abroad are facing.”
ABI travel insurance members are now ensuring customers are provided with up-to-date information about the pandemic, helping customers pursue the right avenues for refunds related to cancelled transport and holidays, and offering the option of transferring unused travel insurance cover to future holidays.
However, some insurance companies have taken the move to pause the sale of all new policies at this time.
Travel insurance: The emergency medical coverage should span an additional 60 days
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.
Insurers are carefully monitoring the fast-moving developments in the coronavirus outbreak, and some have temporarily stopped selling travel insurance to new customers while others have stopped covering cancellations or disruption related to the Coronavirus for new customers.
“Insurance is based on assessing the possibility of an event occurring,” states the ABI website.
“Insurers take account of when any risk becomes more of a probability than a possibility and then make commercial decisions.
“It should be noted that the World Health Organisation has declared Coronavirus a global pandemic.
“But be reassured, trips already booked abroad under existing policies remain unaffected. Travel insurance for non-COVID-19 related risks also remains available.”
Though big-name insurers such as the Post Office have stopped selling new policies, coverage remains in place for those who purchased insurance prior to March 11.
Express.co.uk contacted The Post Office Travel to find out if they would be extending medical coverage for stranded Britons.
They explained: “You policy may be extended for multiple reasons; if you are hospitalised, require medical treatment and are unable to fly; if your transport is disrupted or delayed; or if you cannot return home for reasons beyond your control. Ensure that you call the emergency assistance line as soon as you are able to.”
Travellers who are unsure if their policy falls under the new extension amendment should contact their provider immediately for more information.