Holidaymakers in their masses packed up and jetted off to Spain when the Government released its list of “safe countries” where Britons could travel to without the need for quarantine upon their return. However, following a sudden U-turn and the reinstatement of a travel advisory to the country, thousands of travellers now face devastating losses.
Worryingly, it now seems even those who have invested in travel insurance policies might not be protected against Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advisories if they suddenly change.
Only one major travel insurer will pay out if a holiday or trip needs to be cancelled due to a sudden change in government advice.
To make matters worse the policy, provided by Nationwide, is only available as an additional feature to an existing current account.
Nationwide’s website confirms: “COVID-19 cover is available as long as your trip was booked when there was no government advice in place against travel to your destination.”
According to Lloyd Figgins, chairman of the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group (TRIP), the reason behind a lack of coverage across the industry is simply due to the unprecedented and “complicated” nature of the situation.
“The situation around insurance is complicated, as, in order for you to get a refund, the tour operator has to cancel your holiday,” he explained.
“However, as the FCO is not advising against all but essential travel, it’s likely that some operators will not cancel and therefore will not offer a refund to those who wish to cancel their travel to the Canary or Balearic Islands.”
However, with every evolution of the pandemic, insurance providers are growing and changing how they meet the needs of holidaymakers.
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In the early days of the virus, many providers stopped selling new packages or eliminated any coverage for coronavirus related issues.
Yet as the weeks progressed, most have resumed sales, with many diversifying the type of support they can offer should a COVID-19 related issue crop up.
One such firm is Insurefor.com, which is providing coverage for Britons who are diagnosed with the virus themselves, or who find themselves caught up in a local lockdown while abroad.
“Following the latest UK Government announcement, which is going to have a significant impact on consumer confidence, we are now looking to evolve our travel insurance products in the event that the government imposes further quarantine requirements for UK travellers visiting other destinations,” Antony Martin, managing director at Insurefor.com told Express.co.uk.
“As it stands, if a customer has already travelled to mainland Spain unless advised by their travel provider (they bring the flight forward for example), they can continue on their holiday as normal with Insurefor.com’s COVID-protection travel insurance cover in place.
“This includes cover if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and need medical assistance if the hotel they have already checked into is closed due to local lockdown or COVID issues if other guests tested positive.”
However, there may be some implications as a result of the mandatory quarantine period.
“With regards to the 14-day quarantine that the government has imposed, Insurefor.com’s policy does not cover this, but we would change the policy to another date free of charge or provide a refund if booked within 14 days,” said Mr Martin.
This is why staying up to date on relevant travel updates is crucial.
“For customers who haven’t yet travelled, visiting a country after the FCO has advised against non-essential travel would make their travel insurance invalid,” said Mr Martin.
“In the event that customers need to change their holiday dates or their flights are cancelled, the travel company should refund or change the date.”
Mr Figgins also heralded a warning for Britons jetting off.
“It’s vital that travellers check the details of their insurance policy and also the booking conditions of their holiday operator,” he urged.
“The good news is that many holiday companies have flexible policies on rebooking holidays, so you may be allowed to change holiday destination, or request a voucher instead of a refund.
“Speak to your tour operator before cancelling your holiday to find out what your options are.”
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