AS more cases of coronoavirus are reported around the globe, you may be concerned about any upcoming trip you may have.
Countries that have been affected by the potentially deadly illness include USA, Canda, Italy and Germany and Spain.
Cancelling a trip to one of these areas won’t mean that you’re automatically entitled to a refund.
This is because there’s technically no real reason that you shouldn’t travel other than that you don’t want to.
But if a warning has been issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) then you may be able to get your money back or to make alternative arrangements free of charge.
So far, the FCO advised against all travel to the Chinese Hubei Province, and all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China, parts of South Korea and to 10 towns in northern Italy.
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.
We’ve spoken to the leading package holiday, insurance providers and airlines to find out where you stand if your trip is affected by the virus.
We asked what you’re covered for if you’re travelling to an area where a warning has been issued and what happens if you end up getting quarantined abroad.
We also wanted to know whether you can get a refund if you need to cancel due health or age concerns.
What do the airlines say?
If the FCO has issued a “do not travel” or “all but essential travel” warning then flights to that area will be cancelled.
Customers will be offered a refund or given the option to rebook for different dates or a new destination.
Instances where holidaymakers are quarantined while abroad will be dealt with on a case by case basis.
Flights will be cancelled if the destination it is flying to has been labelled as a “do not travel” zone.
Easyjet will issue a refund for cancelled flights or offer customers alternative flights on different dates or to a new destination.
The airline won’t offer you your money back if cancel your flight because you’re worried about travelling due to pre-existing medical conditions.
It doesn’t have a policy on what happens if you miss your flight due to being in quarantine yet.
If an area has been declared “do not travel” by the FCO then flights are likely to be cancelled and customers will be offered a full refund.
Flights will continue to go ahead as normal, even if the FCO has declared it an area of “all but essential travel”, and you won’t be able to get your money back if you decide not to fly.
If no longer wish to travel to an area where there have been reports of coronavirus due to pre-existing medical or age issues then refunds will be given on a case by case basis.
The airline is yet to have a policy on what happens if you’re quarantined but say it will assess it on a case by case basis.
What do the travel insurers say?
All travel to FCO “do not travel” or “all but essential travel” areas will not be covered by any AXA insurance policy.
If customers aren’t able to make alternative arrangements for their trip with the airline or holiday provider, then it will issue a refund.
Direct Line and Churchill
All policy holders will be covered for a refund of up to £5,000 per person if their holiday is cancelled due to it being made a “do not travel” zone.
Those travelling to “all but essential travel” zones will only be covered for refunds up to £5,000 per person if they bought their policy before the warning was issued and they’re due to depart with 28 days of the advice published.
What happens if I don’t have travel insurance?
IF your travel insurance doesn’t cover coronavirus cancellations, or you don’t have any travel insurance, it’s worth getting in touch with your travel operator.
You’re not guaranteed any help but it might arrange an alternative holiday or allow you to rebook at a later date.
Free cancellations aren’t guaranteed if you’ve booked through an ATOL-protected tour operator either.
This is because the protection is against the failure of the package holiday provider, and not for a major medical outbreak like the coronavirus.
Some travel companies are still offering worried holidaymakers help where possible.
For example, Greek airline Aegean Airlines is offering customers with flights to any destination before March 20 the chance to rebook for free.
If you’ve booked flights and accommodation separately, ask the airlines and hotels if they can help.
Your cover is the same if you’re concerned about travelling due to medical or age conditions, as long as you’ve been advised against going by your GP.
You’ll also be covered for any extra accommodation and travel costs if you’re quarantined, but not food.
Holidaymakers will be offered a refund if flights are cancelled to areas where warnings against travel have been issued.
Exisiting policies will only cover you for “essential travel” if you have agreed with the insurer beforehand that you absolutely have to travel.
Refunds will be issued for cancellations due to concerning medical conditions as long as the customer can provide a GP note advising against the trip.
If you’re quarantined abroad, LV= will cover repatriation costs but won’t offer any compensation.
Marks & Spencer
The insurance provider will issue you a refund for any trip cancelled due to FCO warnings, including “all but essential travel”, if they costs can’t be recovered from your holiday provider.
You will be able to get a refund if you choose not to travel due to concerns over pre-existing medical conditions but only if you can supply a GP note advising you against travel.
Those who are quarantined abroad will be able to recover the costs of extra accommodation and flights home.
The cost of holidays cancelled by the airline or provider can be claimed through your insurance if you can’t get the cash back from your holiday provider or airline.
The same policy applies to holidays in areas that have been declared “all but essential travel”.
Refunds for pre-existing medical conditions will be dealt with on a case by case basis, and a GP note will strengthen your case. #
You’re also covered for repatriation costs as long as you haven’t travelled outside FCO advice.
What do the package holiday providers say?
The holiday provider will offer a full refund or alternative holiday if the area you’re due to travel to has been declared “do not travel” or “all but essential travel” by the FCO.
Cancellations made due to health concerns will be dealt with on a case by case basis but you will need a medical note to be successful.
The provider will also pay for up to three extra nights of accommodation if you’ve been quarantined abroad and your flights home paid for.
TUI will offer customers a full refund or alternative holiday if an FCO warning has been issued for the area they’re due to travel.
Trips cancelled due to medical issues, such as pregnancy, will be offered a refund as long as the circumstances meet the provider’s criteria.
Those quarantine abroad will be covered for the costs of the holiday and repatriation. You won’t be able to claim a refund in this case.
Virgin Holidays will offer holidaymakers the chance to change the dates or destination of their trip if the FCO has issued a warning for their destination.
Alternatively, customers can opt for a full refund instead.
Customers looking for a refund if they cancel their trip due to medical concerns will be assessed on a case by case basis.
The travel agent will also pay for all repatriation costs if you’re quarantined abroad.