ADMIRAL, Axa, Churchill, and Direct Line are the latest travel insurers to halt the sale of new policies covering coronavirus, while John Lewis and Debenhams have axed new wedding insurance policies.
As coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic, major insurers say it's no longer an unexpected risk and they therefore can't protect against it.
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And it's not just new policies at risk, some existing customers will also not be covered under annual policies for coronavirus related disruption to new trips purchased.
A spokesperson for the British Insurance Brokers' Association said: "Cover for cancellation, abandonment or disruption of a trip because of coronavirus or Covid-19 is now highly unlikely to be available.
"We understand that some cover may be available where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice on a particular location now changes to ‘advising against all but essential travel’.
"If customers have any concerns about their cover or their options in respect of their policy they should contact their insurance provider."
A spokesperson from trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is advising customers to shop around to make sure their cover suits the needs of their trip.
The spokesperson added: "Insurers will be monitoring carefully the fast moving developments in the coronavirus outbreak, and will keep their position under constant review as the situation develops.
"Insurers will take account of when any risk becomes more of a probability than a possibility, making whatever commercial decisions that they feel are prudent."
Which travel insurers won't cover you?
Here's a round-up of the insurers no longer offering cover:
- Admiral today (March 13) said it is pausing the sale of new travel insurance policies altogether following the spread of COVID-19.
- Aviva yesterday (March 12) changed its cover so new customers and existing customers will no longer be able to buy its add-on "travel disruption" cover.
- AXA today (March 13) updated its cover so that if you purchase a new policy now, it will not cover any trip cancellation or disruption in relation to coronavirus. The insurer has also said existing annual multi-trip policies will not cover further holidays booked from now onwards.
- Direct Line and Churchill, which are part of the same group, have today (March 13) temporarily suspended all new travel insurance sales. Existing customers are unaffected.
- InsureandGo customers who purchased travel insurance after 11.59pm on Wednesday March 11, will no longer be able to make a claim relating to coronavirus.
- LV= confirmed on March 11 it would no longer sell travel insurance at all to new customers.
- The Post Office said yesterday (March 12) it will no longer cover any coronavirus-related claims for policies bought after March 11, 2020.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: "Anyone planning a holiday should get insurance as soon as they book.
"If you haven’t already booked insurance and are travelling soon we urge you to seek appropriate cover immediately from a reputable insurer.
"It's now even more urgent that the government, insurers and the travel industry work together to tackle the huge challenge posed by coronavirus, as the industry depends on people having the confidence to travel knowing that they will be covered."
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some 'must have' features you should look out for from the Money Advice Service.
- Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
- Repatriation service – The costs of getitng you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay – You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
Which travel insurers will cover you
Here's a round-up of the insurers that will still cover coronavirus-related disruption on new policies – although most have imposed restrictions:
- AA – AA is still selling travel insurance, including cancellation cover, although not to France, Spain, Italy or other destinations badly-hit by coronavirus. For trips elsewhere, customers will be covered if they're due to depart on or before April 30, if there is official advice from the FCO not to travel. We've asked the AA if cancellation cover definitely includes coronavirus-related claims and we'll update this article when we know more. We've also asked what happens for trips booked after April.
- M&S – M&S tells us it's business as usual for its travel insurance arm. The provider will pay out for all trips cancelled due to an FCO warning, including "all but essential travel". We've asked M&S if it has specific rules regarding coronavirus and we'll update this article when we know more.
- More Than – More Than is still selling travel insurance to most destinations, but Italy and China have been removed from its list of cover. Travel insurance will cover customers if the FCO advises against all but essential travel to their intended destination. We've asked what their insurance terms mean for coronavirus cases specifically and we'll update this story when we hear back.
- Virgin Money – Virgin Money told us it is still selling travel insurance. That means it should cover you if the FCO advises against travel to your holiday destination. We've asked Virgin Money if its policies contain any coronavirus clauses.
What about wedding insurers?
It's not just travel insurers pulling new policies from sale as wedding insurance providers are also updating their terms in the wake of coronavirus, with some refusing to sell new policies altogether.
Existing customers with a policy already in place will be unaffected.
Here's what's happened so far:
- Debenhams says on its website that the sale of new wedding insurance policies is currently suspended.
- Emerald Life is still covering weddings, but only if they take place after 150 days' time.
- John Lewis has suspended new applications for wedding and event insurance following the spread of COVID-19.
- Wedding Plan Insurance has confirmed it won't offer new insurance policies for the foreseeable.
Confused about whether travel insurance covers you when it comes to coronavirus? We've explained your rights as a traveller and if you can cancel your trip.
Martin Lewis has urged holidaymakers to check travel insurance and hotel policies to see if you cancel due to the virus outbreak.
We’ve also rounded up the travel insurers who will cover you if coronavirus causes flight cancellations.
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