What is current Foreign Office advice regarding travel and coronavirus?
The Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto in Italy, which have been isolated by the Italian authorities.
These towns are Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano and Vo’ Euganeo.
The Foreign Office also advises against all travel to Hubei Province in China, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak. There is advice against all but essential travel to elsewhere in mainland China.
Will my travel insurance policy cover me if my holiday is cancelled due to coronavirus?
According to Neil Wright, the founder and managing director of Coverforyou.com, if you have bought travel insurance when you booked your holiday, you will be protected if the country you are due to visit becomes an area the Foreign Office advises against travel to in the future.
But he added: ‘Bear in mind, insurance cannot be purchased to cover an area which is already under lockdown.
‘At the moment this is Italy, but with things changing by the day, another reason we urge clients to purchase their insurance as soon as possible so they are safeguarded against further areas being locked down.’
What should I do when looking for travel insurance?
When it comes to purchasing travel insurance, Su Crown, a spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), told MailOnine Travel: ‘Don’t just go for the cheapest option.
‘Make sure you read all of the clauses so that if you do have to cancel your trip due to coronavirus, you are covered.
‘Make sure that everybody you are travelling with is on the same policy so everybody has the same level of cover.’
If I want to cancel my holiday to a destination where there are no travel restrictions, will my insurer refund me?
If you cancel your holiday to a destination where there are no travel restrictions, claiming a refund through travel insurance could prove tricky – even impossible.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, explained: ‘While the government has now updated its advice to cover the Italian locations that have experienced an outbreak, those travelling to nearby cities like Milan or Verona still won’t be able to cancel and claim on their travel insurance, nor will those travelling to Tenerife.
‘Instead, you will have to rely on your travel operator’s or airline’s goodwill if you want to arrange an alternative holiday or rebook a flight at a later date. Some travel agents and airlines are offering worried travellers the chance to change plans where possible.
‘If your travel company can’t help, contact your insurance provider directly to find out if they will cover you as some insurance companies will review scenarios on a case-by-case basis.’
If I am sick or elderly, can I cancel my holiday to a destination where there has been a coronavirus outbreak or do I need a sick note?
If you are booked to travel to an area where the Foregin Office advises against going to, you shouldn’t need a sick note to claim on your travel insurance.
However, the Telegraph reports that in a survey of 11 major insurers, seven would only consider refunding trips to the elderly or the sick where there is an outbreak of coronavirus if the customer can provide a doctor’s sick note.
But Dr Richard Vautrey, the GP committee chair at the British Medical Association said it was ‘completely inappropriate’ for customers to approach their family doctors for sick notes.
He said: ‘Practices are under intense pressure, especially at this time of year, and this is not a good use of GP time, taking doctors away from treating ill patients coming through their doors.’
Instead, he suggested patients could request a summary of their pre-exisiting health conditions but it is unclear if insurers will accept a generic medical history as proof a person is unfit to travel to a coronavirus hit area.
Are airlines cancelling flights due to coronavirus?
This is the current status of flights on UK and Irish airlines: