Coronavirus has spread globally to 81 countries and territories, infecting more than 90,000 patients. Many holidaymakers are now concerned about whether they should travel or not, and it seems they could have a valid reason to, with a travel expert warning they may not be financially protected.
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Appearing on Good Morning Britain today, travel expert Simon Calder warned Britons that their travel insurance policy may not protect them against flight or hotel cancellations they may have to make.
The news comes as events worldwide are pulling the plug in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
Calder explained: “[There are] a lot of concerns about travel insurance and its not a magic umbrella that covers you for anything that can go wrong.
“The airline is going to say ‘The flight is still going, we can get you to New York or Chicago or San Francisco.’”
He pointed out that if an industry event is cancelled, hotels and airlines will not be responsible for this, and therefore will not offer any compensation or money back.
He continued: “Starting today, for example, the biggest travel trade event in the world in Berlin, ITB, has just been cancelled.
130,000 people, all of whom have flights and hotels booked.
“Quite a lot of them are still going hoping to meet their friend.”
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However, tourists who are forced to cancel their plans due to the Foreign Office putting in place a travel advisory will be protected.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis said that insurers are bound to support their customers if the government tells Britons not to travel to a particular region.
“Anyone who has booked a holiday now for this year – if you have not got travel insurance, if you get the travel insurance and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office then says you can’t go to a country, you’re covered,” he explained.
“If the Foreign & Commonwealth Office rules out a country in future and you haven’t got travel insurance at that point, you’re not covered.”
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However, those who did not have an insurance policy in place before the ban came into action will not be protected.
He added that simply avoiding travel out of fear of contracting COVID-19 will also not be eligible for travel insurance support.
Despite the growing concerns, however, Mr Calder adds that now is actually a “fantastic time to travel”.
The revelation comes as airlines, hotels and other travel services are beginning to lower costs due to a decrease in demand.
Travellers could snap up a great deal on their next holiday, however, Calder warns that they should still ensure they have a travel insurance policy and be mindful about their chosen destination.
He says: “You shouldn’t go anywhere that the foreign office says not to go, partly because your travel insurance will be.”
Meanwhile, Mr Lewis urges customers to always buy travel insurance at the same time as they book their holiday.
“This is the big warning,” he urged. “I do it every year – I talk about booking travel insurance ASAB – as soon as you book.
“Because if you don’t and something happens in the meantime before you get travel insurance, you’re not covered.”
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