In an ideal world, individuals should avoid travelling overseas amidst the coronavirus outbreak. However, often business trips and events are booked months (if not years) in advance. If an individual is unable to travel or their transport / accommodation is cancelled due to coronavirus then it is important to know what Travel Insurance may or may not cover.
I am due to travel for work, what should I do?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are advising individuals not to travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao) unless essential. However, as the situation is evolving rapidly, it’s important you check and follow the latest FCO advice when travelling and planning to travel.
What will my Travel Insurance cover?
Put simply, you are only likely to be covered for cancellation if the FCO advise you not to travel to your destination.
Most Business Travel policies will cover cancellation (which includes irrecoverable travel and accommodation costs) if the trip has already been booked and then the UK Foreign Office recommend ‘all but essential travel’ to that area be avoided. This includes passing through the areas on lock-down. Your insurance should cover you even if your length of travel is extended as a result of quarantine issues.
Business Travel Insurance will also cover any additional costs associated with rearranging the journey, or cutting your trip short. So if you’ve already travelled to an area and the Government then advise you to return to the UK, your policy may cover you for extra costs incurred getting back home.
Some Policy Wordings are wider than others, so all policies should be checked carefully before voluntarily cancelling trips. While you should always prioritise your health and take preventative measures to mitigate risks, your insurer is unlikely to cover you for cancelling a relatively low-risk trip due to “disinclination to travel”.
If you ignore advice from the Government and travel anyway, it’s likely you’ll invalidate your travel insurance and you won’t be covered if something does go wrong.
What is ‘essential’ travel?
The FCO’s definition of ‘essential travel’ is as follows:
“Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. You may have urgent family or business commitments to attend to. Circumstances differ from person to person. Only you can make an informed decision based on the risks.”
When in doubt, check with your insurer or broker. Put simply, a non-urgent business meeting or a trip to an awards ceremony is unlikely to count as ‘essential’.
Check your policy!
It is imperative that you check your individual Policy Wordings before travelling and speak to your insurer or broker if you have any questions. Each policy is different, and you must follow the advice of your insurer.