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Coronavirus: Travel insurance providers ‘withdrawing cover’

Many of the UK’s major insurers have withdrawn from offering  travel cover since the coronavirus pandemic sparked travel chaos around the world, new research reveals.

Consumer group Which? contacted 75 insurance providers to establish if and how they were amending their travel insurance provision following the coronavirus outbreak.

A total of 31 insurers, including Aviva, LV= and Direct Line, have temporarily suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers as a result of the pandemic.

A further 13, including Axa, Saga and Staysure, have changed aspects of their policies making them more restrictive, according to the study.

Insurers are being urged to work closely with the government and wider travel industry to ensure that travellers are not left struggling to find adequate cover, as the sector depends on people having the confidence to know they will be covered in an emergency.

Existing customers who booked their trips and purchased their insurance before the outbreak, or before insurers amended their terms to exclude claims related to coronavirus, should still be able to claim for any non-refundable costs of cancelled holidays or travel plans as a result of the virus.

But there is now a shrinking number of providers offering cover for travel for people looking to buy new insurance for future holidays.

Which? also voiced concern that some providers are potentially treating customers who have been affected by coronavirus disruption unfairly, using little known exclusions to reject claims, such as not covering claims where the holiday has been cancelled because of a change in advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Which? said it recognises the huge strain the travel insurance industry is under, but the sheer number of sudden changes to policies and inconsistent responses to the crisis from different providers could create confusion for consumers – leaving them at risk of travelling without cover or abandoning their travel plans entirely.

Which? also advised anyone purchasing travel cover during this period to carefully check policy details and exclusions prior to buying, or book new trips with an existing annual multi-trip policy where possible.

Which? head of travel money Gareth Shaw said: “Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the travel insurance market, with dozens of providers amending policies or pulling them altogether.

“This is creating confusion and uncertainty for consumers, who may feel they simply can not make plans for future trips in the circumstances.

“The government, insurers and the travel industry must work together to tackle the huge challenge posed by coronavirus, to ensure people feel confident enough to travel in the knowledge that they will be covered.”

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