Anyone holding on to the slim hope that they might be able to take out travel insurance against a planned holiday could be in for a shock with most major UK financial services firms, including Aviva, Direct Line, Churchill, Admiral, LV= and Axa UK, pulling out of selling cover to new customers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes as travel companies and airlines warn of impending doom and gloom from the widescale travel bans being imposed across the world.
A statement from insurance giant Aviva said: “Following a review of the evolving risks posed by coronavirus, we have decided that it is necessary to make some changes to the travel insurance we can offer our direct customers at this challenging time.
“Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events and coronavirus is a known event which creates a high likelihood that customers’ travel plans will be affected.
“For new customers, we have therefore made the decision to pause the sale of Aviva’s travel insurance from 3pm on March 13 2020. We envisage that this decision, affecting Aviva’s single and multi-trip travel insurance, will be a temporary action. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
A statement released earlier on Friday from Direct Line Group on behalf of Direct Line and Churchill said: “Due to the impact that coronavirus is having across the world we have experienced a huge increase in demand for travel insurance.
“Our priority is to protect and service our existing customers and therefore we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the sale of travel insurance to new customers so that we can focus on our existing customers. This is a temporary measure and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
“Axa has also placed information on its website which says: “If you purchase a new policy now, it will not cover any trip cancellation or disruption in relation to coronavirus. If you already have an annual multi-trip policy and you book a new trip now, you may not be covered to cancel that trip, or for any disruption you experience.”
Meanwhile, Admiral said: “Like other insurers we’ve made the difficult decision to pause the sale of new travel insurance policies in light of the global impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) as of March 12 2020. We considered different options, such as excluding cover, for new customers before introducing this temporary measure.
“We strongly believe that pausing the sale of new policies to focus on our existing customers is the right decision and will keep monitoring the situation. Our existing customers are not affected and annual multi-trip policies can still be renewed.”
A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: “Insurance is based on assessing the possibility of an event occurring. Insurers will take account of when any risk becomes more of a probability than a possibility, making whatever commercial decisions that they feel are prudent.”
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