Great Britain

Martin Lewis reveals travel insurance loophole that could see some cancel holidays and get refunds

MARTIN Lewis has urged holidaymakers to check their travel insurance as a loophole means people with pre-existing medical conditions maybe be able to cancel and get a full refund.

MoneySavingExpert.com, which was founded by Martin, encourages people to speak to their insurer as if your condition means you're at greater risk of being affected by the virus you may be able to cancel your trip and get your money back.

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The consumer help site said: "If you're worried about the heightened risk of the virus due to your age or underlying health conditions, speak to your insurer to discuss your options."

Asthma, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis are among the conditions that are said to heighten the risk of coronavirus, for example.

Trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI) told The Sun that most of its members will cover trips if you have to cancel because of a pre-existing condition that's declared on your insurance.

But the ABI warns that this will be on a case-by-case basis and whether you're covered will depend on both your policy and your medical condition.

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Some insurers will require proof of this from your GP, and be aware that if the people you're travelling with have a separate insurance policy, they might not be able to cancel and get a refund just because you have.

It may also depend on when you took out your policy or when you booked your trip, as no new insurance policies currently provide cover for coronavirus-related cancellations.

Direct Line and Churchill, for example, told us they would consider claims of this nature but only on trips booked before March 13. They say coronavirus was a known risk for trips booked after this date.

Insurers Admiral and Aviva told MoneySavingExpert.com they would consider this type of claim on a case-by-case basis, but Leisure Guard said it wouldn't allow claims of this nature at all.

The Sun has asked these insurers to confirm their policies and we'll update this story as soon as we hear back.

Martyn James, consumer expert at complaints tool Resolver, points out that travel insurance is likely to cover cancellation due to unexpected illness or injury too.

He said: "A good travel insurance policy will have a range of clauses about cancellation including being ‘fit to fly’.

"That might be because of a pre-existing condition, pregnancy, or even if you’re suffering from anxiety and you get signed off by a medical professional."

What are the rules on travelling overseas?

Of course, many travel insurance providers are currently paying out for cancelled trips regardless of medical background due to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) advice for Brits not to travel outside of the UK unless it's absolutely essential.

But due to the sheer volume of holidays being cancelled and flights being grounded most travel providers are only cancelling trips a week or two in advance of their departure date.

This means those with trips planned in July and August may still be waiting on tenterhooks to see if trips are cancelled.

And if even if the FCO lifts its advice by then and allows people to leave the country many travellers will decide they'd rather not go due to concerns about catching the virus or about having to quarantine potentially in the country they're visiting as well as on their return to the UK.

From June 8, most people coming to the UK from abroad will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine and failure to do so can result in £1,000 fines.

Are there any other ways to get a refund?

Before you go to your insurer you should always try to get your money back from your travel provider directly, as with insurance you typically pay a fee called an "excess" to make a claim.

Also bear in mind travel insurance won't cover you if you simply decide you don't want to travel.

If your travel provider can't or won't hope help then you can go to your insurer or go to your card provider if you paid using one.

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act covers purchases of between £100 and £30,000, while a similar scheme called Chargeback covers purchases of less than £100 on credit card or purchases on debit card.

Just be aware that neither scheme is likely to pay out if trips haven't been cancelled yet, and some lenders are also blocking payouts.

If your trip is yet to be cancelled you can ask your travel provider to move the dates but this will be at its discretion and will depend on the terms of your agreement.

It's likely to be case of sitting tight and waiting to see what happens.

Martin Lewis urges holidaymakers to check travel insurance and hotel policies due to coronavirus

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