Travel insurance policies, and what to do next if you cancel a trip
At this time, experts and the FCO warn against all nonessential travel anywhere in the world in an effort to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19. The U.S. CDC has also advised people over the age of 60 and those who have preexisting medical conditions to “stay home as much as possible”. Events and attractions all around the world have been forced to cancel or close their doors. Safe to say, if you had a holiday planned for the coming months, you surely have lots of questions.
Nicky Kelvin, Head of Content at trusted travel site The Points Guy UK, answers some common questions when it comes to cancelling a trip and booking future travel.
Will travel insurance cover me if I cancel my trip?
Many travellers are cancelling their trips. Airlines and cruise lines around the globe have been cancelling, redirecting and reducing service. Several airlines and hotels are offering full refunds, or vouchers to anyone with plans to travel in the coming weeks and months.
Given that the government has now advised against all non-essential international travel, it could spell good news if you want to cancel a trip. If you have an upcoming holiday and hold travel insurance, the FCO’s announcement is significant. It usually means that you are able to make a claim on a travel insurance policy, as most policies require government advice against travel, as opposed to a traveller making a personal decision not to take a trip. The key is to study the fine print of insurance policies, or protection offered by credit cards carefully and ensure that any future concerns you have are covered.
So, should you be guessing when the situation will improve and taking advantage of some of the outrageous travel deals available right now?
Avoid near-term travel
I don’t care if an airline is offering free flights right now: Unless you absolutely must travel to relocate to a better location for the duration of the outbreak, or for medical reasons, no price is worth a leisure trip at the moment due to the priority of social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Know the change policies
Once you start looking at potential travel deals further out on the calendar, you still need to be mindful of change and cancellation policies.
While no one knows when “normal” will return, if you spot an appealing 2020 travel deal for later in the year, just be sure it’s either so cheap you won’t mind walking away, or there’s a generous change or cancellation fee waiver in place. When it comes to booking airfare, most European airlines are waiving change fees on future travel booked right now. I recommend booking directly with the airlines to cut down on the extra hassle you might encounter when reserving travel through a third-party site.
The change policies, however, aren’t consistent across the industry. They vary from airline to airline, from one hotel chain to the next, and you’ll find they are vastly different from cruise lines to vacation rental sites. So, read the fine print before booking a future travel deal.
Can you tie up more money in travel?
Even if the travel deal you want is changeable, think long and hard about whether now is the time to tie up more of your funds in travel. Changeable and fully refundable aren’t the same things, so carefully evaluate your personal situation in these ever-changing times before giving a travel company more of your cash.
If you’re using points or miles to book an incredible deal, that equation shifts since you can’t typically eat your miles or use them to pay rent. If you’re using a travel voucher, miles or have the budget to put aside funds for future travel, that’s a very different scenario than if you are struggling to stock up your cupboards with necessities.
The bottom line is to frequently check airline websites, your insurance policy and the FCO site for more information, as the situation is constantly evolving.