In October 2019, it was reported by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) that 88% of the UK population had a holiday last year.
This year, however, the Coronavirus outbreak has had a huge global impact on the travel industry, with the number of daily flights dropping by as much as 80% since the beginning of 2020, according to the BBC.
As a result of this, many travellers' holiday plans have been cancelled, rearranged or put on hold for the time being, so many policyholders are looking to cancel or amend their existing cover to try and save some money.
The cost of travel insurance can differ widely depending on the individual’s personal circumstances, the intended destination and the type of policy (annual/multi-trip, single trip, cruise cover, etc.), with some holidaymakers getting cover for as little as a few pounds, and other, more high-risk travellers paying hundreds of pounds for travel insurance.
So, it comes to no surprise that people are looking to get some (or all) of their money back during these financially pressing times.
Can I cancel my travel insurance policy due to Coronavirus? - How to get a refund
If you have a travel insurance policy that you are definitely not going to use because your trip has been cancelled, you might be able to get a full or partial refund (some companies are offering pro-rata refunds based on the number of days remaining on the policy), or change the dates of intended travel on your existing policy.
However, what you get back will depend on your specific insurance provider, so you will need to get in touch with them directly to request for a travel insurance refund - provided that you haven’t already made a claim on your policy.
Bear in mind that phone lines are understandably very busy due to the current circumstances, so you might want to try and get in touch with your provider online where possible (via email or webchat, for example).
As advised by money-saving expert Martin Lewis, you should request a refund with your provider as soon as possible, because the sooner you do it, the more money you're likely to get back (if they're offering refunds at all).
Mr Lewis also says that you should only look to cancel your policy if:
- You have no more travel plans or holiday bookings
- You’ve arranged to have a refund for any cancelled holidays with your provider (make sure you’ve sorted this refund before cancelling your travel insurance - you might need that money to cover any cancellation costs later on!)
Once you cancel your policy, there’s no going back. So just make sure that you definitely no longer need the cover.
14-day cooling-off period
As with most types of insurance policies, there is usually a ‘cooling-off period’, where you have the right to cancel your policy within the first 14 days after you purchased it - without being penalised with a cancellation fee.
So, if you bought your travel insurance policy within the last 14 days, you should be able to contact your provider to request a refund without any issues. Beware, though, that some companies may charge an administration fee for doing this.
If you purchased travel insurance more than 14 days ago, you will have to contact your insurer to see if you’re entitled to getting any money back - just remember that their terms may differ from other providers'.
Thinking of booking a holiday in the near future?
If you have plans to book another trip when circumstances have settled down, you might want to keep your policy depending on the type of cover you have.
For example, if you have a policy that lasts a year, you may want to keep ahold of it just in case - rather than cancelling and potentially paying more for travel cover later on.
The impact on travel due to the Coronavirus outbreak means that getting a new travel insurance policy at the moment can be tough, as a lot of providers are not accepting new customers for cover for obvious reasons - so consider whether or not you really need to cancel.
What travel insurance companies are currently giving refunds for cancelled policies?
According to research carried out by moneysavingexpert, the travel insurers currently giving refunds to customers who have unused policies are:
Travel Insurance Company
Annual Policy - Can I get a refund?
Single-Trip Policy - Can I get a refund or change the dates?
|Admiral||✓ (pro-rata)||✓ (pro-rata)|
|Allianz Assistance||✕||✓ (full refund or change travel dates)|
|AXA||✓ (pro rata refund only if the policy was bought before 13th March 2020)||✓ (up to 65% refund only if the policy was bought before 13th March 2020)|
|Churchill||✓ (pro-rata)||✓ (change travel dates up to 550 days after date of purchase)|
|Co-op||✓ (pro-rata)||✓ (refund for majority of cases - not all)|
|Direct Line||✓ (pro rata)||✓ (change travel dates up to 550 days after date of purchase)|
|LV=||Not yet known||✓ (refund for majority of cases - not all)|
|More Than||✕||✓ (full refund or change travel dates up to 1 year)|
|Saga||Depends on the individual's case||Depends on the individual's case|
Real-life examples of travel insurance refunds
On the MoneySavingExpert website, one traveller who is over 75 and has pre-existing medical conditions states that they bought cover with Staysure at a cost of £610 for a 2-week trip to Canada, and have received a pro-rata refund in the form of a £146 voucher to use for another trip as the policy started in October.
Another traveller stated that after their holiday deposit was refunded, their insurer Columbus Direct agreed to refund the premium in full.
Peoples’ experiences seem to differ widely depending on the type of policy they have, the length of the policy it is and the insurance company they bought it from, so make sure you contact yours now if you’re looking to get some money back!
Holiday refunds: What happens if my company refuses to give me my money back?
If the firm with which you booked your holiday is failing to give you a refund despite your trip being cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak, they might have to face legal action by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has stated that companies will be taken to court if they disregard the law.
It seems that many holidaymakers are being given a voucher rather than being reimbursed in cash for their accommodation costs, and the CMA recognises that such holiday vouchers can only be used during a more expensive time.
Make sure you ask for help if you’re refused a refund by your holiday provider - to do so, you’ll need to complete an online form on the GOV.UK website to let the CMA know that a business is acting unfairly amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Remember, if you want to get a refund on your travel insurance policy, get in touch with your insurer straight away to get as much money back as possible, if at all possible.
For further information, read our related guides below: