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Coronavirus: How to plan your holiday if you’ve bought travel insurance too late

Posted: 6 March 2020 1:29 pm
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  • Warning: Most travel insurance brands are no longer offering cover for the coronavirus globally. If you have an existing policy and need advice, contact your insurer directly.

Walking on airport

Planning a trip but worried about coronavirus? We answer your travel insurance questions here.

Have a trip booked but worried about coronavirus? If you bought travel insurance after January 2020, you almost certainly won’t be covered for claims related to coronavirus. However, here’s some advice on how to plan your holiday if you’ve bought travel insurance after coronavirus became a known event.

To stay up to date with other coronavirus guides, head to our coronavirus hub.

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Zealand government has changed the travel advice for all countries to “Do Not Travel” (Level 4). Read more about it at the SafeTravel website. As of 10 April 2020, anyone returning home from overseas is required to go into managed isolation at an approved facility for a minimum of 14 days.

Will my travel insurance cover me?

Most travel insurers won’t cover any coronavirus-related claim if you bought a policy after January 2020, which includes cancellations and medical cover. Travel insurers won’t cover you because travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen issues and coronavirus has been considered a known event since this time.

Now that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has upgraded the travel advice to “Do Not Travel” (Level 4) for all overseas destinations, you won’t be covered if you choose to continue your travel plans. Plus, with an extremely low number of flights leaving the country, chances are your flight has already been cancelled if you were planning on travelling soon.

How much does your insurance cover you for?

You might be able to get cover for cancellation expenses now that the New Zealand government has changed the travel warning to “Do not travel” for all countries. However, this is only if you bought a policy before the ban was put in place.

I’ve booked accommodation, can I make a claim?

Because most insurers do not cover you for coronavirus-related claims, if you bought a policy in January 2020 or later, it might be difficult to get a refund from your insurer.

With the travel ban now in place, you probably need to speak to the booking site or third-party provider (like Airbnb) about seeking a refund. However, this really depends on the terms and conditions of the provider you used. For example, many Airbnb hosts have flexible cancellation policies. Booking sites also often have their own terms and conditions. However, most advise you to obtain suitable travel insurance to cover your booking for the property, in the event you have to cancel your booking.

Airbnb also released a statement, (Updated 15 August 2020) stating that people may be able to cancel and receive refunds under its “extenuating circumstance policy“, so check this out to see if you qualify.

If you paid for your accommodation by credit card, you might be able to seek a refund. A refund may be possible because, if the accommodation provider hasn’t provided the service, you can request a “chargeback” through your credit card provider.

What happens if I’ve already booked flights?

With a travel ban now in place and a large portion of international flights cancelled, you are probably entitled to a refund from the airline itself. Air New Zealand is offering flexible flight change options – including holding your fare in credit for up to 12 months – but normal refund rules apply if you decide to cancel your flight.

If you have a booking with an overseas airline, check the website for official updates regarding flight cancellations, changes and refunds.

Should I keep planning my holiday or prepare for things to change?

This depends on when you plan to travel. It’s worth keeping in mind that the New Zealand government is asking all Kiwis to not travel overseas, and there is no indication on how long this restriction may be in place as the global pandemic escalates in severity. We may not see an increase in international flights for many months. To keep up to date with the latest travel information, go to SafeTravel.

Picture: GettyImages

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