Government gives advice on Covid-19 and insurance policies

19 March 2020   By Francine Carrel

The Government has published new information about how the coronavirus could affect people's insurance.

The Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has caused chaos in most people's lives. One potentially costly concern is insurance - how will travel insurance, home insurance, car insurance and so on be impacted by the virus?

The UK Government is releasing new information and advice every day. Today they answered some common questions about insurance and the coronavirus.

man wearing a breathing mask

How is travel insurance affected?

Is coronavirus covered by travel insurance?

Some policies will cover claims relating to the coronavirus, others won't.

Most insurance policies taken out before the start of March 2020 won't have coronavirus as a specific exclusion - but check the documents carefully, just in case.

Policies taken out after 1 March 2020 are likely to say that coronavirus claims won't be accepted. So, customers who fall ill with Covid-19 while abroad might not be covered for treatment.

The Government told insurers today that it expects them to "clearly communicate" any policy exclusions relating to coronavirus.

What about self-isolation?

Those who self-isolate while on a trip abroad might be able to claim for things like extended hotel stays - but, again, it will depend on the specific policy.

Can I claim for my cancelled holiday?

Maybe - there are a couple of things to try.

If the holiday provider is ABTA or ATOL protected, speak to them directly about a refund or rescheduling the trip for another time.

If the company you bought the holiday from doesn't offer refunds or rescheduling, the next step is to contact the travel insurance provider. If:

  1. a holiday was booked before 1 March 2020, and
  2. the customer has travel insurance that covers that trip (either an annual policy or something bought just for the holiday)

then travel insurance providers should cover claims for the cancellations due to coronavirus.

Can I claim for a cancelled flight?

Probably, yes.

Again, the first place to check is whoever sold the flight - usually the airline. They are likely to offer a refund or rebooking. This is because consumers are protected under European regulation EC261.

If the airline doesn't offer this, it's time to call the travel insurance firm.

Am I entitled to further compensation?

Usually, if the cancellation was made within 14 days of booking, customers would be further compensated under EC261.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority's advice suggests that, due to "extraordinary circumstance", compensation might not be payable.

Can I book a holiday?

It's not recommended.

Currently, we're all advised to avoid all non-essential travel. We don't know when those restrictions will end, so booking a holiday in the future comes with uncertainty.

Insurance firms hate uncertainty. Those that will cover trips are likely to charge a lot of money.

What if my travel is essential?

Travel insurance is a must, and there are other preparations to make.

There are specialist insurance policies that should cover essential travel during this pandemic. Customers should speak directly to their insurance companies to find out which policy will cover them.

There's also a list of Government advice for preparing for essential travel - see here.

Can I claim back money for cancelled events?

This is up to whoever sold the ticket. Contact the ticket seller or the venue for information (and check emails to see whether they've send info out already).

Will car and home insurance be affected?

Possibly - it depends on how much the policy holder has changed their routine.

Some motor insurance policies are priced partly on things like daily commute and where the car is parked. These things can change if the driver is suddenly working from home.

In the same vein, home insurance might be affected by the resident spending lots more time in the house.

Any uncertainty should be addressed with the provider. The Government has told insurers that they shouldn't reject claims based on these temporary changes in circumstance, but it's better to start an open conversation as soon as possible, to avoid nasty surprises.

What if I can't buy or renew my insurance?

Some insurance firms have stopped selling certain insurance products for the time being. This is because, with the situation changing so rapidly, it's hard for them to calculate risk.

The Government said today that it can't stop insurance firms from doing this. They recommend speaking directly to an insurer, or an insurance broker, to figure out a solution.

Financial difficulties and paying a monthly premium

Covid-19 is hitting the budget of many families due to workplaces being closed or reduced; and, from next week, many adults might have to stay home to watch their children as schools close.

If financial difficulty means a customer is finding it hard to pay their monthly premium, it's best for them to contact the insurer right away.

Again, the smart thing is to start an honest conversation - they will want to find a solution too and will often be more patient than expected. The Government told insurance firms today that they should be, "aware of the circumstances that their customers find themselves in".

Be aware, though, that in some cases the insurer might refer the consumer to the credit broker (the firm that manages the debit).


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