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Coronavirus: top travel insurance tips if you’ve got a holiday booked

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Guidance around coronavirus is changing on a daily basis, with the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warning against all but essential travel to Italy.

The rapidly changing situation has left many people with holidays booked to other destinations in the coming months unsure what to do.

One way to protect yourself is to buy comprehensive travel insurance as soon as possible, preferably as soon as you book a trip.

Many holidaymakers are taking this advice: sales of travel policies have risen by over 170% since the coronavirus outbreak, according to GoCompare.

However, having insurance isn’t enough. It’s essential you buy the right insurance as policies vary from insurer to insurer. If you already have insurance, it’s worth reading the small print to check your level of cover.

Sally Jaques, of GoCompare Travel Insurance, said: “Buying travel cover shouldn’t just be a box-ticking exercise where the cheapest policy will do.  The potential risks are very specific, and you should check you have the relevant cover and that you understand how your policy will work.”

For example, coronavirus is currently being classed as an epidemic, so it may fall under the same definition for insurers, but you’ll need to check your policy to make sure.

Some insurers will also provide cover under ‘travel disruption as a result of FCO restrictions’ or ‘cancellation due to FCO restrictions’.

Meanwhile, around half of travel policies cover ‘cancellation due to compulsory quarantine’.

Jaques recommends people check directly with their insurer to understand the cover they have.

GoCompare has also issued this ten-point plan for travellers:

  • Make sure you have travel insurance in place as soon as you’ve booked
  • If you have insurance in place and the FCO advises against travel to your destination, you should be covered, although sometimes this will be under an extra called ‘travel disruption cover’
  • Anyone actively trying to travel to an area which has a travel restriction imposed by the FCO would now risk invalidating their travel policy
  • If your destination has travel restrictions imposed before you buy your policy, an insurer won’t pay out
  • Travel insurance may provide cancellation cover if you are advised not to travel for personal medical reasons, but not if you are simply disinclined to travel now
  • Get in touch with your insurer to check cover and restrictions, or for more specific advice relating to your policy
  • Check cover levels for SAFI (Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance)
  • If booking a ‘staycation’, you still need travel insurance to cover the risk of cancellation
  • Keep a close eye on FCO travel restrictions
  • Take your travel insurance policy number and emergency contact telephone number with you when you travel and check the claims procedures.


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