Blog Category Travel Alerts January 29, 2020 By

Coronavirus in China

For policies purchased on or after 6th November 2019

For policies purchased prior to 6th November 2019

Please see below the latest update from our underwriters Chaucer in regards to the Coronavirus in China.

Please find below details relating to the outbreak of Coronavirus, and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s decision to update their travel advice relating to the above incident.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. If you’re in this area and able to leave, you should do so.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). The Chinese government continue to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It may become harder over the coming weeks for those who wish to leave China to do so. If you feel that you may want to leave China soon, you should consider making plans to do so before any further restrictions may be imposed.

Due to increasing travel restrictions and difficulty accessing medical assistance, the FCO is working to make an option available for British nationals to leave Hubei Province. This may happen quickly and with short notice. If you’re a British national in Hubei Province and need assistance, contact the 24/7 number +86 (0) 10 8529 6600 or the FCO in London on (+44) (0)207 008 1500 to register your desire to leave. You will be contacted once arrangements are confirmed.

Please see the FCO website for the full and latest information:
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

What to do

If you are overseas and you need medical assistance because of this event, you should contact the 24-hour emergency medical team as soon as possible on the telephone number provided in your policy wording.

If you are currently on a trip to China, you should follow the advice of the FCO in the first instance. You should also speak to your tour operator, travel agent or air carrier. If a flight/ferry booking has been cancelled the operator should book you on to an alternative flight/crossing.

If your policy includes optional ‘extended journey disruption’ or ‘travel disruption’ cover then additional benefits may be payable. Please refer to your policy certificate for validation, and your specific policy wording for details of any cover available.

If you are still in your home country but due to travel to, or through, mainland China, you should speak to your tour operator, travel agent or airline in the first instance.

If you want to rearrange your trip dates, and provided you’re not making a claim, we can transfer your policy to cover the new trip as long as it’s within three months of your original departure date, is for the same or no longer duration, and is to the same geographical area. Please contact your issuing agent to discuss your amended trip dates.

If you have been able to get a refund on your trip and you are no longer travelling, you are not making a claim and now wish to cancel your Single Trip policy, you should contact your issuing agent to do so. The policy will be cancelled subject to your confirmation of this, and a full refund will be provided.

If you need to make a claim, you can do so by contacting your claims provider. Details can be found in your policy wording.

Bear in mind

You’ll need to check your policy terms and conditions to see exactly what cover your policy provides and how much you can claim for, as different policies vary.

Claims will only be considered where the date you purchased your policy or made arrangements for your trip, whichever is the later, precedes the date the FCO advised against travel to your intended destination. If you bought your policy after the date the advice changed then we won’t be able to offer any cover.

Most travel insurance policies do not cover any claims arising from travel to a country or area against the advice of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office or equivalent government or national authority, or the World Health Organisation. Please refer to your policy wording.

Similarly, most policies will exclude claims due to circumstances which were, or would reasonably have been expected to be, known to you at the start date of your policy or at the time of booking your trip (whichever is later). Again please refer to your policy wording.

If you are not due to travel to or through mainland China but are concerned about the risk of going on your trip, please be aware that our travel insurance policies do not cover disinclination to travel. While we sympathise that you may no longer wish to travel on your trip, unless the FCO advise against travel to your intended destination there is no cover for cancelling or cutting short your trip.

Should you have any further queries, please contact us at queries@avidinsurance.co.uk

Can I make a Claim if I decide not to travel?

There is no provision of cover under the Cancellation or Curtailment sections of the policy wording for this scenario.  We would respectfully ask those concerned to speak with their tour operators and travel agents to discuss their options.

The only time a claim could be considered under Section K2 – Extended Cancellation or Curtailment is in the event that the FCO does update their status to advise against travel to the country in question.  And then your Policy would have to be in place before this advice updates.  Any policies purchased after this time when it will be considered a known event will not respond.

For policies purchased prior to 6th November 2019, please see below the latest update from underwriters 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 advise all travellers to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice before travelling, and you can do that by checking your chosen destination from the list provided here:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

For residents of EIRE 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 feel free to contact us on directivesqueries@tifgroup.co.uk and we will endeavour to offer an answer.