Hundreds of flights have been cancelled by airlines as fewer people choose to travel abroad following the coronavirus outbreak.
With new cases being diagnosed around the world every day, how could the outbreak affect your travel plans?
What Are My Travel Rights?
In general, insurers and airlines take their cue from official UK foreign travel advice.
If you go against it, you risk invalidating your insurance policy.
For example, if you intend to travel to China the situation is very clear-cut. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all but essential travel to mainland China and all travel to Hubei Province.
If you are already in China, travel cover may not be valid in Hubei, but should continue elsewhere in the country (as long as your stay is essential).
Your rights can also depend on your choice of airline and the small print of your insurance policy – so do read it carefully.
What Happens if I Decide to Cancel My Trip?
If the government has not issued a warning about the country you are booked to visit, you cannot expect financial compensation if you decide to cancel.
“In general, cancellation or travel disruption cover will activate when the FCO advises against all travel or all but essential travel to an area,” says Su Crown, from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
“Travel insurance is not designed to cover ‘disinclination to travel’ where the FCO advice has not changed to advise against travel.”
AXA UK, one of the leading travel insurers, agrees.
“When the FCO advises against travel to a country or a region, people who are booked to travel there should call their airline or travel provider to cancel or postpone and arrange a refund,” says Nel Mooy, its head of travel proposition.
“Then they should contact their insurer to register a claim.”
Will My Insurance Cover Me if I Miss My Flight Home Because of Quarantine?
It very much depends on the type of holiday you booked and the type of travel insurance you have, according to the ABI.
“People should look for a ‘disruption to travel’ clause in their insurance,” says Ms Crown.
“If you have spoken to your airline and they are unable to help, then you should speak to your travel insurance company. Insurers are doing their best to help people in these circumstances,” she adds.
However, this usually only applies to package holidays. For flight-only arrangements, the ABI says it will depend on the type of cover you’ve got with your travel insurance.
As for accommodation, this should also be covered by your travel insurance – but again, do check the small print first.