Coronavirus help and support for our insurance customers

Protection Towergate is Offering Travel Companies Regarding Coronavirus

The current escalation of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the UK and across the world, plus the Italian government's decision to quarantine the Lombardy region containing 16 million residents, is further adding to what is already an incredibly difficult and uncertain time for us all.

We will continue to support you throughout this period, as well as do our best to bring as much certainty as possible concerning the travel insurance policy cover that we arrange for you.

Please note, the following advice is subject to your policy’s individual terms and conditions.

1. Are policyholders covered if they decide to cancel a trip when the FCO or other local / national govts have not advised against travel to the destination?

No. This is still regarded as disinclination to travel and therefore would not be covered by the policy. We would of course support you in transferring the policy to cover a different trip were you to decide to offer the policyholder that option.

2. Are policyholders covered for cancellation if the FCO or other local / national govts advise against travel to the destination?

No. This scenario still isn’t covered by travel insurance. Any refunds should come direct from the tour operator / travel provider / accommodation provider. Again, we would support you in transferring the policy to a different trip were you to decide to offer the policyholder that option. Otherwise, as per July 2018’s Package Travel Regulations and if you have arranged a package trip for your customers, you are duty bound to refund them 100% of their holiday payments. From a purely travel insurance perspective, you can then cancel the affected policies in the normal way, plus we’ll refund any MediScreen additional premiums that might have been paid (this would be subject to no claims being made against any of those policies). We would recommend that you check your supplier contracts to ensure that they contain clauses making it incumbent upon the supplier to refund you all applicable payments in these circumstances; if they don’t it might prove difficult to secure such payments.

3. Are policyholders covered if they contract COVID-19 coronavirus whilst on an insured trip?

If there were no travel restrictions at the time of travelling, then yes. Normal cover under the Medical & Other expenses section would apply.

4. What happens if travel restrictions, etc. are announced to the trip destination mid-trip?

As per Point 2 above. The tour operator / travel provider / accommodation provider would be expected to make arrangements to bring the passengers / policyholders back in conjunction with the advice of the applicable local and / or national health services. Refunds for any lost days of the trip would be expected to be made by the tour operator / travel provider / accommodation provider.

5. What if excursion are affected by those destinations being put into quarantine by the local authorities?

Policyholders would not be able to claim against the policy for this. This would be regarded as loss of enjoyment and is not covered by travel insurance in general.

6. Are policyholders covered for cancellation if they contract or are suspected of contracting covid-19 coronavirus before travelling?

Yes. Cover would apply under the Cancellation section subject to the doctor service advising them to cancel their trip.

7. Are policyholders covered for cancellation if they are advised to self-quarantine at the time their trip was due to start?

There is cover under the Cancellation section for customers under quarantine. The Government has issued advice for returning travellers and if they fall within the criteria set out they are asked to self-isolate, for the purposes of the policy this would be considered as quarantine. In the event of a claim the policyholder would need to evidence the need to self-quarantine, e.g. if the customer has recently come back from a country where the Government have advised travellers to self-quarantine.

Self-quarantining claims would only be considered if the departure date falls within the quarantine period, so for instance if a customer has been advised to self-quarantine for 2-weeks and they are departing on a trip in 3-weeks, a claim for self-quarantine would not be considered.

8. Are policyholders covered for cancellation if their doctor advises them against travelling as a pre-emptive measure due to their pre-existing conditions?

No, this is not covered under the Cancellation section of the policy.

9. Are policyholders covered for additional travel and accommodation costs if the trip is extended due to compulsory quarantine?

If it is medically necessary for the customer to stay beyond the scheduled return date cover is provided for additional accommodation and travel. In determining whether quarantine is “medically necessary”, the key is whether the customer is quarantined on the say so of the local authorities; where the local authorities want to quarantine it will be because they believe it is “medically necessary” to do so to minimise any spread.

However, in the situations that we have seen so far such as the cruise ship in Japan and the hotel in Tenerife, any additional costs have been picked up by the local authorities

10. Will the policy duration be extended if the trip is extended due to compulsory quarantine?

The policy duration is automatically extended if the customer has to stay in resort longer than planned due to being quarantined.

11. Can a claim be made for curtailment if the policyholder is quarantined during the trip?

There is cover if the customer is quarantined for a period of in excess of 48 hours. In this situation claims are considered in the same way as if they had curtailed their trip with the calculation based on when they were quarantined.

Further information

Sadly, fraudsters are exploiting the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus to facilitate various forms of fraud and cyber-crime.

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 21 reports of fraud where Coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £800k. Ten of these reports were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers.

Reporting numbers are expected to rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

Fraudsters are also sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails in an attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.

One of the tactics that have been identified from victim reports is from fraudsters purporting to be from research organisation’s affiliated with the Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) contacting potential victims by email. They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

We appreciate that it’s already a difficult time for you, but we would urge you to remind your staff of any cyber crime processes you already have in place and certainly ask them to be as vigilant as possible. If in any doubt delete and / or bring to your attention any emails that look suspicious or out of place.

If you have further questions please do not hesitate to call or email us.

This is a marketing article by Towergate Insurance.