ANXIOUS travellers keen to cancel trips due to coronavirus concerns may have two get out of jail free cards.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has swept across the globe – check out our coronavirus live blog for all the latest updates – with many travel providers cancelling flights and trips.
But while you can't claim on your travel insurance simply because you don't want to go away anymore, you may be able to cancel and get a full refund on other grounds.
Here's what you need to know – also read our full coronavirus holiday cancellations guide for more information.
You should be able to cancel and get a refund if you're going to an at-risk area
If you're travelling to one of the areas the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against then you're likely to be able to cancel and get your money back from your travel provider.
Areas the FCO has advised not to travel to
Here are the regions the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against travelling to due to coronavirus:
- All of mainland China
- Castiglione d’Adda
- San Fiorano
- Terranova dei Passerini
- Vo’ Euganeo
While there are no legal guarantees, reputable firms should offer alternative holidays or full refunds.
If they refuse to shell out, you may instead be covered by your insurance – see our travel insurance guide for more on this.
Currently, the FCO has advised against all travel to Hubei Province in China, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China.
It's also warned against all but essential travel to the cities of Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea, as well as to 10 small towns in the Lombardy region of northern Italy and one in the Veneto region of Italy.
You might be able to cancel and get a refund if you have a pre-existing medical condition or unexpected illness
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) explains that most of its members will cover trips if you have to cancel because of a pre-existing condition that's declared on your insurance.
In this scenario, you could get a full refund if your condition could put you at greater risk of contracting coronavirus – even if you're not going to a country on the FCO's warning list.
But the ABI warns that this will be on a case-by-case basis and whether you're covered will depend on both your policy and your medical condition.
Some insurers will require proof of this from your GP, and be aware that if the people you're travelling with have a separate insurance policy, they might not be able to cancel and get a refund just because you have.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may be able to cancel and claim on your travel insurance based on advice from your doctor."
Martyn James, consumer expert at complaints tool Resolver, also points out that regular travel insurance may cover cancellation due to unexpected illness or injury.
You may even be covered if you're pregnant and your doctor advises you not to travel after you've purchased your insurance policy (pregnancy doesn't count as a pre-existing condition).
He said: "A good travel insurance policy will have a range of clauses about cancellation including being ‘fit to fly’.
"That might be because of a pre-existing condition, pregnancy, or even if you’re suffering from anxiety and you get signed off by a medical professional."
Tommy Lloyd, chief product officer, at specialist comparison site Medical Travel Compared added: "Disinclination to travel would not be covered under a standard travel insurance policy.
"But if a customer had received a doctor’s note advising them against travel at this time, they should discuss this with the travel insurance provider directly."
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