Holiday cancellation due to COVID-19: Covered by travel insurance?
The global outbreak of COVID-19 left many Brits in a difficult position due to travel plans being disrupted or cancelled. A disruption of this scale has never before been experienced by our travel industry, and some have commented that COVID-19 makes the disruption caused by the Icelandic volcanic cloud in 2010 seem like a walk in the park.
For some, the decision was made for them. Flights were cancelled, borders closed and they were simply unable to travel. For others, with the British Government advising against non-essential travel, but airlines continuing to operate, difficult decisions had to be made about whether to travel, postpone or outright cancel travel plans.
This has left many asking the question: is cancellation covered by travel insurance?
The short answer to this question is (in true lawyer fashion), “it depends”.
If you bought travel insurance since the outbreak of COVID-19, it is highly unlikely that you will be covered. Many travel insurance providers are now expressly excluding pandemics or epidemics from their cover. This is likely to be the case moving forwards.
If you bought travel insurance prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, whether you are covered will depend on what it says in your travel insurance policy. Most if not all insurance providers have a dedicated area on their website for those who have experienced disruption due to COVID-19, and so it’s important to check the specific advice from your provider as it’s likely that there are hundreds if not thousands of other customers who will be in the same position as you.
When reviewing your position, here are some general points to consider:-
- Some providers will require you to have bought travel disruption cover as an optional extra in order to cover you. Other providers will cover you under their general policy. Check which applies to you.
- Some providers have a policy whereby you first need to claim against your credit card provider (under s75 Consumer Credit Act 1974), and only if that claim is unsuccessful will the insurer provide cover.
- Some providers will have strict rules about notifying them of the cancellation, so make sure you check what it says in your policy so that you don’t give the provider the opportunity to wriggle out of providing cover due to a procedural error.
If you are unsure about your position and want tailored advice about how to proceed or assistance with writing to your insurer, please get in touch with our Dispute Resolution team on 01582 514000 who will be able to assist.