Travel companies should consider checking insurance policies purchased by customers to ensure they are buying the kind of cover needed during the Covid-19 crisis.
Alex Padfield, director at law firm Hextalls, told the virtual Abta Travel Law Seminar that insurance “comes down to what’s in the policy” and urged the trade to tell clients to “carefully” check the wording of their policy on Covid cover.
“It’s rare for people to ask to see the policy,” said Padfield. “Tell customers to shop around and emphasise the different types of policy on the market.
“You’re protecting yourself as you don’t want to end up with customers being left high and dry because they bought the £25 policy and not the £35 policy with additional benefits.
“Tell your customers to check the market to make sure they are getting comprehensive cover and think about introducing something that requires your customers to have a minimal level of cover.”
While policies offering no Covid cover had “pretty much disappeared” in recent months, Padfield added there were many policies that only covered travellers for Covid medical expenses and nothing else.
He had also identified around 25 policies offering wider Covid coverage but even these showed a “huge degree of variation of exactly what they cover”.
“Policies will cover most things but not all policies will cover everything,” warned Padfield.
“There is a gap in the market – there’s no cover from any insurers for the quarantine requirement [when returning to the UK] where there could be a loss of earnings if they cannot work. Will this change? We will have to wait and see.”
Padfield added some insurers were offering an “extension” to policies covering changes in Foreign Office (FCDO) advice on non-essential travel to destinations, although these policies only offer cover for advice changes made because of Covid.
Fellow lawyer Jo Kolatsis, director of Themis Advisory, said that catching Covid on holiday was an “insurable event”.
“It should be treated in the same way as any other illness or perhaps a broken leg,” she added. “They should have insurance that protects them from this sort of risk.”