MARTIN Lewis is urging holidaymakers to check their travel insurance and hotel cancellation policies as coronavirus continues to spread.
The MoneySavingExpert founder was answering questions from worried consumers on ITV’s This Morning when he was asked for advice about travel insurance.
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In response to the coronavirus panic, some travel insurance providers have updated and changed their policies, while others have stopped selling altogether.
In a drastic move, the US has also banned flights from 26 European countries, except the UK and Ireland, for a month.
So should you still go ahead with your holiday?
Unfortunately the answer isn't clear-cut, but Martin suggests there are things travellers can do to minimise the risk of losing money.
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some 'must have' features you should look out for from the Money Advice Service.
- Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
- Repatriation service – The costs of getitng you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay – You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
Generally speaking, holidaymakers are entitled to a refund on their trip – whether they have travel insurance or not – if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) declares their destination unsafe to travel.
For those with a trip planned and travel insurance already booked, Martin advises checking the terms and conditions of the insurance policy.
Consumers should check what rights they have in terms of cancelling – if you do have free cancellation, make a note of last day you can claim it.
As the situation surrounding coronavirus changes day-by-day, this will give you more time to decide if you should travel.
Then if you choose not to go – but the FCO hasn't declared your destination as unsafe – you'll still be able to get your money back as long as you do it within your cancellation period.
If you don't have free cancellation, or no insurance at all, Martin suggests doing the opposite.
Travellers should avoid cancelling their plans because if the FCO advice on their holiday destination changes, then you'll be entitled to a refund.
Cancel too early, or before advice changes, and you'll be left out of pocket, says Martin.
Speaking on This Morning, Martin said: “For example [your free cancellation date] could be two weeks before you go. You need that in your diary in a big red line.
“If this is going to happen and your travel insurance won’t cover you, and you’ve got free cancellation, the day before the last day you can cancel for free, you want to cancel if it looks like you won’t go.
“But – if you don’t have free cancellation, my advice is the opposite. Don’t cancel because if the Foreign Office advice were to change and they were to say that you couldn’t go to that country, then you’re covered.
“If you cancel beforehand, and you don’t get your money back, then you’re not covered.”
Travellers will need to check the cancellation cover for each element of their trip, so flights, hotels and any extras like airport parking.
If you've yet to book insurance, keep in mind that you won't be covered if the FCO has already deemed your holiday destination unsafe to travel.
Martin Lewis previously warned how the coronavirus outbreak in the UK would cause a large number of travellers to lose money.
The Sun has got a list of the countries which are yet to declare a case of coronavirus.
We’ve also rounded up the travel insurers who will cover you if coronavirus causes flight cancellations.
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