05 March 2020
Travel insurance update for individual customers on the recent coronavirus outbreak
With the spread of coronavirus causing global concern, the news today that Flybe has gone into administration will lead to many questions over travel arrangements.
In general, travel insurers compensate for cancellations only under certain circumstances:
- The FCO advises against travel to the booked destination, and
- The holidaymaker has already contacted their airline or travel provider to change dates or arrange a refund but has been unsuccessful.
Many policies provide cover for cancellation and curtailment where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice has changed after you purchased your policy or booked your trip, whichever is later. If you buy a policy for a destination where an outbreak has been reported or a travel advisory notice is already in place, then coronavirus claims are unlikely to be considered by your insurer.
If you have booked a package holiday, you should approach your tour operator in the first instance. If you are then passed in the direction of the insurer, each potential claim will be looked at on a case by case basis.
Your travel policy wording sets out exactly what is and isn’t covered. If you’re unsure about this or have questions, please call your adviser who will be happy to help.
You should monitor the situation through official sources such as:
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china
- World Health Organisation (WHO): who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
The majority of Flybe travellers bought flight tickets separately, not as part of a package holiday. This means that they will not be covered by the ATOL scheme which provides protection for package holidays.
Whether your travel insurance covers the administration depends on the policy: nearly half of travel insurance policies (49%) have scheduled airline failure cover as standard, with another 19% having it as an optional add-on which costs extra, according to figures compiled by data analysts Defaqto. That leaves 32% of policies without such cover, and unable to make a claim.
If you have paid more than £100 on flights directly with Flybe on a credit card, you should be able to claim a refund for the flight from your card provider. This is known as section 75 protection and is part of the Consumer Credit Act.
For cheaper purchases, or if a debit card was used, you can try claiming from your debit card provider under the chargeback system, although this is not a legal right and not always successful.