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Blog - March 16, 2020
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Coronavirus and Group Travel – An Update
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By Michael Henderson

The situation with Coronavirus is shifting quickly in real-time, and some of those changes will directly affect Group Travel insurance. 

We’ve already mentioned how decent Travel insurance should include a provision for Disruption, which is for when trips are cancelled due to circumstances out of the insured’s control. 

Disruption cover should therefore respond for issues such as for MIPIM, cancelled last month by the organisers.

Travel Bans

Disruption cover is all fine, and works well until such time as the Public Authorities and Governments close borders and ban flights. At this point the the situation alters on most policies, with some technically appearing to exclude Disruption claims.

The reality is that the dynamics are changing rapidly, and there are plenty of variables to be determined within insurance companies regarding how their policies will respond to a variety of complex and different claims

 

Our Advice

Our advice for anyone who has had to cancel travel due to the current outbreak, and therefore looking to claim under their insurance, is to proceed with the advice we’ve already given. That is to seek all available refunds from suppliers as possible, whether that is with travel agents, or direct with airlines or accommodation providers.

Be firm and do not just accept suppliers trying to push you towards your insurance. Get as much refunded as you possibly can, as if you had never taken any insurance at all

 

What Is Being Refunded

As expected, this will vary quite a lot

Most airlines we’ve seen are being flexible with cancellations and rearranging flights, waiving the normal change fees (for a small period) and allowing refunds for flights to countries with closed borders. This won’t necessarily be the case with everyone

Hotels and accommodation providers will vary more, particularly when dealing with smaller independent owners. Some of the larger ones are offering penalty free cancellations for affected places, though others will look to avoid refunds by claiming “force majeure” on their contracts

 

Travel Against FCO Advice

As a general rule – never travel against FCO advice, as your insurance won’t respond. That doesn’t just affect things such as expenses incurred from travel disruption – what happens if you become ill and need medical treatment or even repatriation?

Do not book trips to areas the FCO has advised against as you won’t have cover for the cancellation expenses

Do not travel to areas the FCO has advised against as you won’t be covered for any medical treatment, expenses incurred or costs of repatriation

If the FCO advises you against travelling, then do not travel. Contact your travel agent and/or suppliers (as detailed earlier) to get refunds, and then look to recoup any different from your insurance where possible

For people who travelled before such advice was given against travelling, but are now needing medical expenses or repatriation, then you should still be insured

The only other thing to consider though is that even if you are insured, it might be difficult to fulfil some of those obligations (for example, if a million people suddenly need medical treatment, then although insurers will be willing to pay for the treatment there may be physically too few physicians to deliver)

 

If you need to discuss then please contact us

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