Dozens of major insurers in the UK have pulled out of the travel insurance market due to the coronavirus pandemic, consumer champion Which? has revealed.
Which? contacted 75 insurance providers in the UK to ask if they were amending provision of travel insurance in light of the crisis, or halting sales altogether.
In total, 31 insurers said they had temporarily suspended sales of travel insurance policies to new customers, while a further 13 had made their policies more restrictive.
According to Which?, those who booked trips and purchased insurance before the outbreak, or before insurers amended their terms to exclude coronavirus-related claims, should still be able to make claims.
However, those looking for coverage for future holidays that includes provision for the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have a much smaller pool to choose from.
Firms that have suspended sale of travel insurance to new customers include Aviva, LV= and Direct Line, while Axa, Saga and Staysure are among those to tighten up their policies.
Which? also raised concerns over the disparity with which insurers have reacted to the crisis, with some using “little-known exclusions” to reject claims.
The watchdog added the sheer number of sudden changes to policies and the industry’s “inconsistent” response to the pandemic was creating confusion for travellers.
It has urged insurers to work with the government and the travel sector to ensure travellers can find adequate cover, adding the travel industry relied on people "having the confidence to know they will be covered in an emergency".
Travellers, meanwhile, have been warned to check any new policy carefully – including any exclusions – before purchasing cover.
“Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the travel insurance market, with dozens of providers amending policies or pulling them altogether,” said Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?.
“This is creating confusion and uncertainty for consumers, who may feel they simply cannot make plans for future trips in the circumstances.
“The government, insurers and the travel industry must work together to tackle the huge challenge posed by coronavirus, to ensure people feel confident enough to travel in the knowledge that they will be covered.”