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Coronavirus in China - Update for policies underwritten by Travel Insurance Facilities (TIF)


Following the continued and updated news reports regarding the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus in China, we would like to extend our sympathies to those who have been affected, clarify what cover may be available and provide information about the best steps to take.

On the 28th January 2020, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated their advice to the following:
– Advise against all travel to Hubei Province
– Advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Mainland China

We always advise all travellers to check the FCO’s advice for their chosen destination and the current advice on this matter can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

For residents of Ireland please follow the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as follows:
https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/china/

It has been published that British Airways (BA) has suspended all flights to and from Mainland China with immediate effect due to the outbreak of the virus. If you are due to fly to China with BA, please follow the link here for more information about the next steps that can be taken.
https://www.britishairways.com/travel/flightops/public/en_gb?p_faqid=7982

We understand that the British Government is planning to bring UK Citizens currently in Hubei Province home. For further information on this, please contact the FCO 24/7 number +86 (0) 8529 6600 if you are in Hubei Province or the FCO in London on (+44) (0) 207 008 1500.

Cancellation
This type of event is unfortunately not covered across the travel insurance industry for claims relating to cancellation. This is because most policies have the following exclusion relating to cancellation “the fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection or allergic reaction”.

We would advise travellers who have booked package holidays to a destination affected by the viral outbreak and looking to cancel their trip or amend their travel plans to contact their travel agent or tour operator in the first instance.

If you are not able to amend your trip details and have a medical justification for having to cancel your trip, we would be happy to discuss your situation on a case-by case basis.

Some policies will provide cancellation cover due to changes in FCO advice. We would ask that you check your specific policy wording for more information on this.

Insurance “shifting”
If you are offered an alternative destination and or dates from your travel agent, we are pleased to advise that we will shift your insurance policy to fit the new trip without any administration charges, providing the new trip is for the same duration and to the same location or geographical area. Please call the customer service team on the number listed in your policy wording.

Premium Refunds
In the event that you are unable to move the trip to an alternative destination, and are offered a refund from your travel agent or tour operator, we are happy to offer a full refund of premium on the understanding that no claim is to be made against the policy.

Returning early
If you are considering returning to the UK earlier than originally planned as a result of the viral outbreak, please be aware that most policies have the following exclusion relating to cutting short a trip “the fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection or allergic reaction”.

If you have booked a package holiday to a destination affected by the viral outbreak and looking to cut your trip short you should contact your travel agent or tour operator for information on availability of flights in the first instance.

If you are travelling independently from a tour operator or travel agent, you should make your own arrangements to leave by either altering your return tickets, where possible, or booking onto an alternative commercial flight. Claims for independent traveller’s additional expenses in returning home earlier, where medically justified, will be treated sympathetically.

Some policies will provide cover for cutting your trip short due to changes in FCO advice. We would ask that you check your specific policy wording for more information on this.

In the event that you have specific questions not answered by this directive, please contact your insurance company directly either by email or over the phone.


This article was posted on 12-02-2020

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