TRAVEL insurers are coming under pressure to refund customers for policies they can’t use during the coronavirus crisis.
Disappointed holidaymakers have had their flights cancelled and travel plans disrupted due to the pandemic.
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Yet many travellers are still paying for policies that effectively no longer have any use.
This applies to those who’ve bought annual policies, rather than single trip cover only.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all but necessary travel in mid-March, ruling out a majority of trips.
If you ignore the advice by the FCO and travel anyway, you risk invalidating your insurance policy.
Meanwhile, travel insurers are still collecting or keeping payments from customers.
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some ‘must have’ features you should look out for from the Money Advice Service.
- Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
- Repatriation service – The costs of getitng you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay – You’ll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
Coronavirus has hit hard against the travel industry, with insurers expecting to pay out a record £275million in cancellation claims.
This is the highest value of cancellation claims from a single event, the Association of British Insurers told The Sun.
But James Daley, of the campaign group Fairer Finance, is now urging providers to issue refunds.
He said: “It’s hard to see how firms can justify not providing any refund at all in these circumstances – particularly if you’ve not taken any trips at all since you bought your policy.”
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the financial regulator, recently said it expects insurers to consider how coronavirus has affected the value of their products.
If it has been “materially affected”, providers should consider reduced premiums or partial refunds, it added.
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Martyn James, of online complaints tool Resolver, told The Sun customers don’t have an automatic right to a refund and that it’s “unlikely” that travel insurers will issue one.
But he added that customers can raise a complaint with their provider, arguing that they’re paying for goods and services they can’t use.
If you’re unhappy with the response, you can take it to the Financial Ombudsman.
A spokesperson for ABI told The Sun: “Most travel insurance policies provide cancellation cover from the day you take it out to the day of departure, giving travellers an essential safety net to protect against the risk of plans being cancelled before you are due to travel.
“However, insurers do understand that some people will have bought policies they no longer require due to restrictions in light of Coid-19.
“It is a commercial decision for insurers to offer partial refunds so people should speak to their insurer if they have bought a policy that is no longer required.”
Holidaymakers rescheduling trips are also being urged to check that their travel insurance will cover rebookings.
Brit travellers face home visits from police to check they’re not breaking quarantine rules after landing back in UK