Insurers begin pulling travel insurance amid pandemic

Insurers begin pulling travel insurance amid pandemic

Law360, London: Insurers have begun scaling back the scope of travel insurance, or have stopped selling policies outright, as the global spread of the coronavirus (COVID 19) disrupts business and holiday travel.

Both the UK’s biggest personal lines insurers Aviva and LV= are scaling back their coverage as airlines cancelled flights in response to a sharp drop in bookings.

‘In light of the impact that coronavirus is having globally, we’ve made the difficult decision to pause the sale of travel insurance to new customers,’ LV= said in a statement on 11 March 2020.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation announced the virus was now a pandemic, meaning it was spreading in multiple countries at the same time. Shortly afterward, US President Donald Trump declared a 30-day ban on flights from continental Europe to contain the spread of the virus.

Aviva said it would continue selling cover, but had stopped offering optional travel disruption and airspace closure protection with the new policies it sold. In addition, the company reaffirmed that it would not pay out if the UK. government advised against non-essential travel. ‘Our travel insurance will not cover you if you need to cancel or abandon your travel plans if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises you not to travel, for example where the FCO advise against all but essential travel to an area affected by coronavirus’, a statement by the company said.

On 11 March 2020, specialist travel broker SportsCover Direct said on its website that it had introduced a ‘coronavirus exclusion’ to new policies sold from 9 March 2020 morning onwards, ‘which excludes any claim caused by coronavirus’.

On 9 March 2020, UK insurance price comparison site Go Compare said that travel insurance sales have risen by 170% but urged customers to check their policies for exclusions. ‘Anyone who has bought insurance after coronavirus was a known issue in the destination they’re travelling to is unlikely to be covered’, said Sally Jaques, travel insurance expert at the company.

UK insurer Direct Line said last week it has so far received around £1m in travel insurance claims since the outbreak began.

This content is based on an article first published by Law360, a LexisNexis® company, on 12 March 2020 and is published with permission.

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