As the World Health Organisation announced the Coronavirus is now a pandemic, meaning it is spreading in multiple countries at the same time, UK insurers have begun restricting the cover of travel insurance, or have stopped selling policies outright.
There is a growing list of insurers now restricting cover for claims relating to Coronavirus.
AXA said last Friday that its new policies will not cover trip cancellation or disruption relating to the virus. AXA joins Admiral, the Post Office, Aviva, LV and Insure & Go to name but a few insurers who began limiting or changing cover as airlines around the world have been cancelling flights following a sharp drop in bookings. LV and Admiral have both temporarily stopped selling new travel insurance policies.
All of this should come as no surprise really, given the potential financial impact on insurers’ businesses. Direct Line said last week it has so far received around £1 million in travel insurance claims since the outbreak began.
In an further attempt to explain the largescale scaling back by insurers, the Association of British Insurers has said that travel insurance is for unforeseen circumstances and the Coronavirus danger was no longer an unforeseen circumstance.
These actions taken by travel insurers now match the way Coronavirus has been treated in other industries like events businesses.
As we reported last week, most event cancellation insurance policies do not cover loss from contagious diseases, unless cover is sold as an add on. Even then, the cover is often only triggered when the relevant government bans an event, rather than when an organiser cancels an event or attendees drop out. Likewise, Aviva has reaffirmed that it would not pay out on travel insurance policies if the UK government only advised against non-essential travel as opposed to an out-right ban on travel.
For more information on other insurance considerations arising out of Coronavirus, see our detailed blog here.