With COVID-19 impacting the state of travel in India and beyond, leading travel company Skyscanner understands that travellers are worried about health and financial safety in these uncertain times.
To help those who have to travel in these times, Skyscanner’s Senior Director of Legal & Public and Regulatory Affairs Martin Nolan provides five important tips and suggestions on travel insurance post COVID-19.
Travellers should be covered for COVID-19 cancellations with an existing travel insurance policy
If travellers bought a travel insurance policy before Coronavirus became a known event, they should be covered. The relevant date varies according to insurer, but 12th March is a good rule of thumb, as that was the date the WHO declared Coronavirus as a pandemic.
Travel insurance will not generally cover cancellations for trips booked after Coronavirus became a known event unless they have explicitly covered this risk (and most have not), so if a traveller took out the policy on or after 12 March, it’s likely not covered.
Travellers should check their travel insurance provider’s website, policy documents or give them a call to find out more details.
Travellers should check with their insurance provider for the most updated policy
Most insurance providers are sharing updates on how Coronavirus has impacted future travel plans. Therefore, travellers should check the official websites of their insurance provider for policy changes or contact the provider for details. It is important not to delay a claim because certain existing policies may now have stricter cut-off dates in which one can claim compensation for a cancelled trip. If any terms have changed, the insurance provider should have contacted policyholders directly.
Travel insurance will not cover policyholders who are visiting an affected region
Travel insurance is unlikely to cover travellers visiting an affecting region, unless the policyholder was already there at the time of the pandemic. Therefore, travellers should check their policies and speak with their insurer before making any decisions.
“If you took out your insurance after Coronavirus became a known event, it’s unlikely to be covered. If you already had a policy in place, for example an annual policy, but you only booked your trip after Coronavirus became a known event, it’s also not likely to be covered. If you still take a trip to an affected region, it’s likely your policy might be considered void because you have travelled to an affected region, particularly if you need to make a claim that’s then related to Coronavirus,” said Martin Nolan.
It is important to make sure to monitor the government advice, as some policies follow official government advice. Any additional warnings or restrictions issued usually operate as a trigger for insurance policies to let policyholders make a claim, in many cases even where airlines have not cancelled their flights yet.
Nolan added, “If the government has not warned against travel to a destination but you decide to cancel anyway, this would be considered as a voluntary cancellation by you, and your insurer would be unlikely to cover it.”
Travellers might not be covered for COVID-19 if they buy travel insurance now
It is highly unlikely for travellers to get covered for Coronavirus if they buy their travel insurance now. Insurance providers are no longer offering coverage once Coronavirus became a known event.
Many governments are still advising against travel to certain destinations, and insurance providers are therefore taking the lead from these official travel advisories.
Travellers can cancel their travel insurance policy if they cannot travel now
Policyholders who cannot travel because of Coronavirus travel restrictions, and who had previously bought travel insurance before the pandemic became a known event should be able to cancel the policy.
Skyscanner encourages travellers to check with their provider, as some may have instituted cut-off dates for refunds, or may have specific rules surrounding Coronavirus cancellations, like pro-rata refunds.
Nolan said, “Be aware that you can only cancel your policy if you haven’t already made a claim on it. If you have pending claims from trips cancelled due to Coronavirus, then those will be nullified if you cancel your policy. You can also usually cancel an insurance policy within a certain window of time after having taken the policy out, so if you’ve only just taken out the policy, this is worth considering.”