A significant number of the UK’s major insurers have pulled out of the travel insurance market since the coronavirus pandemic sparked travel chaos around the world, Which? has found.
The consumer champion contacted 75 insurance providers to establish if and how they were amending their provision of travel insurance following the global outbreak of coronavirus.
Which?’s researchers found that 31 insurers, including well-known insurers such as 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.
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.
However, for people looking to buy new cover for future holidays, there is now a shrinking pool of providers offering cover for travel.
Which? is also concerned that some insurers 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 (FCO).
Which? 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.
The consumer champion is urging insurers to work closely with the government and wider travel industry to ensure that travellers are not left struggling to find adequate cover, as the travel industry depends on people having the confidence to know they will be covered in an emergency.
Which? is also advising 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.
Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, 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.”
Insurers no longer selling cover
- Alpha Insurance
- Clydesdale Bank
- The Co-op
- Direct Line
- First Direct
- Fogg Travel
- More Than
- M&S Bank
- Now I Can Travel
- Post Office
- Puffin Insurance
- Sainsbury’s Bank
- Sheilas’ Wheels
- Virgin Money
- Yorkshire Bank
Insurers changing cover details
- AllClear – no new cover for coronavirus-related claims
- Axa – no new cover for coronavirus-related cancellation
- Allianz Assistance UK – from 12 March, no new cover for coronavirus-related claims
- Columbus Direct – from 13 March, no new cover for coronavirus-related claims
- Debenhams – from 16 March no new cover for coronavirus-related claims
- Direct Travel – from 17 March, no new cover from coronavirus-related claims
- Ergo Travel – exclusions regarding any epidemic or pandemic as declared by the WHO
- Holidaysafe – still selling travel insurance, but policies now include a Covid-19 specific exclusion
- InsureandGo – no new cover for coronavirus-related incidents
- Nationwide – from 18 March, new policies won’t cover coronavirus
- NFU Mutual – still selling annual policies to existing home insurance customers but have stopped the sale of single-trip policies
- Saga – from 13 March, no new cover for coronavirus-related claims
- Staysure – no travel disruption extension for new customers
Notes to editors:
- Which? began contacting 75 insurers on 11th March and has been monitoring insurer announcements since – all information correct at the time of publishing.
- Video outlining your travel rights: https://youtu.be/GaKib34XfoQ
- For more information, visit: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/03/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-your-travel-insurance/#insurers