Martin Lewis: Expert issues travel insurance warning to Britons as coronavirus fears rise

Coronavirus has already impacted the holiday plans of many Britons as it continues to spread. There are currently 111,356 cases globally, with a number of popular holiday destinations, including Spain, France and Italy, badly hit. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises against all but essential travel to a number of areas in northern Italy due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus in their latest travel advice.

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The news will affect many holidaymakers with Italy travel plans.

Travel insurance is always advised, but in the current climate, it’s more important than ever.

Martin Lewis, 47, appeared on ITV’s This Morning to share his latest travel insurance advice with worried Britons today.

One ITV viewer, due to travel to Florida in July, called in to ask whether the cancellation part of her travel insurance covered her holiday against coronavirus or whether she’d need to add travel disruption.

Lewis explained the query is a very common one at this time.

He said: “Almost all travel insurance policies, including the cheap no-frills policies… if you are travelling somewhere that the Foreign Office has said it advises against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’ then the travel insurance company will pay out if there is a Foreign Office advisory in place.

“As there is for China, parts of South Korea and, from today, there now is for northern Italy.”

He continued: “So if you were due to travel to one of those areas – or if in the future Florida were to join that list – you would be covered.”

However, Lewis went on to warn Britons that they could still be caught out, even if they have travel insurance.

“The bigger question is – your flight is cancelled, your hotel is cancelled, it’s not in a Foreign Office warning area but it’s been cancelled due to coronavirus – are you covered?” he said.

“In that case, the majority of policies don’t cover you, those the travel disruption cover may.”

It’s worth looking very carefully at what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.

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“Bizarrely we found that some policies would cover you if your flight was cancelled would cover your hotel and some, if your hotel was cancelled, would cover your flight but not both,” cautioned Lewis.

The Money Saving Expert went on to advise how to proceed if flights are axed.

He urged Britons if their flight has been cancelled to go to their provider and then their insurer.

The travel insurance proceedings will depend on the destination. For instance, holidays to northern Italy will benefit as the regions are today covered under FCO guidance.

“This triggers the travel insurance payout,” Lewis explained.

Lewis advises checking your destination on the FCO website to see what travel advice is in place.

He pointed out that these lists are going to change over the next three to four months.

Lewis summed up his advice with: “Get cover and cross your fingers.” 

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