With coronavirus already causing havoc for thousands of travellers and potentially ruining any upcoming travel plans you have, travel insurance is now more important than ever. But will travel insurance actually cover coronavirus?
Which Travel Insurance Covers Cancellation due to Coronavirus?
Not all travel insurance companies will cover cancellation due to COVID-19. The stance of travel insurance companies is liable to change, but at the moment we are aware of a few companies that have said they'll cover cancellation due to Coronavirus advisories subject to conditions (at least on top tier plans):
Note: this doesn't mean they'll cover cancellation if YOU simply change your mind about travelling and decide to cancel your holiday on your own accord—even if your reason not to travel is because you're worried about COVID-19. Travel insurance would only cover situations where the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has declared an advisory against travel to your destination that is either "against all but essential travel" or "against all travel".
Many of these providers are part of the comparison panel with our travel insurance comparison tool. In all cases, please check the policy wording of your chosen provider before purchasing—sometimes only the highest levels of cover from a provider will protect against pandemic. Click below to start the quote process:
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What Happens if the Airline Cancels My Flight?
If the airline cancels your flight to an area that is not under FCO advisory, then the airline should refund your ticket price. However, you may be out of pocket for other expenses related to your trip such as non-refundable accommodation. In that case, contact your hotel or other vendors first to see if they'll give a refund given the situation.
If they won't, you'll need to rely on travel insurance—but again, not all providers will cover this situation. AA and Axa stand out yet again for offering policies that cover accommodation if your airline cancels your flight and you can't recoup non-refundable hotel costs.
Which Areas Have FCO Travel Advisories Due to Coronavirus?
As of 04 March 2020, this is the current list of FCO advisories due to COVID-19.
- China: against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China.
- Northern Italy: against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) and one in Veneto (Vo’ Euganeo).
- South Korea: against all travel to Daegu and all but essential travel to Cheongdo.
What to do Today
If you have booked a trip but haven't bought travel insurance yet, buy a policy ASAP. Insurance policies that would potentially cover cancellation to a coronavirus-affected area will only do so if you bought the policy before your destination is officially deemed a no-go area.
Will Your Existing Travel Insurance Cover Coronavirus?
If you already have cover, check to see if your policy explicitly exclude pandemics in their terms and conditions or policy wording—because many policies don't cover pandemics. It might be a good idea to ring your travel insurance provider to confirm either way.
What if Your Travel Insurance Doesn't Cover COVID-19?
Travel insurance is meant to be your last resort in terms of getting money back if you have to cancel your trip for a reason out of your control, like COVID-19. That is, you should first contact your airline or tour operator first to try to get a refund. So even if your travel insurance doesn't cover COVID-19 you still may be able to get at least a partial refund.
If you already have travel insurance but you know your provider won't cover coronavirus, it could make sense to buy a second policy from a company that is more likely to cover COVIS-19 cancellations. Single trip cover can cost less than 20 quid, which could be money very well spent in the current environment.
Health Care if You Fall Ill Abroad
If you're unlucky enough to fall ill due to coronavirus exposure while abroad, your travel insurance should cover your medical expenses. That said, for travel to Europe, your first port of call for medical expenses is usually your EHIC, which can still be used until 31 December 2020.