The travel industry seems to have largely overcome the problems experienced with staffing and cancelled flights at the start of the summer holiday season and likewise with travel insurance, cover for COVID is gradually settling down.

It has been a bit of a roller coaster with insurers quickly excluding COVID in the early stages of the pandemic, other than honouring cancellation cover for trips booked prior to the COVID restrictions coming into force. Then, as some travel resumed and more became known about the risks of COVID, many insurers offered cover for emergency medical and additional accommodation costs associated with the contraction of COVID abroad, but cover for cancellation of trips for those catching COVID prior to travel or forced to self-isolate was very limited. At the time, our advice to clients was not to rely on travel insurance. If they wanted to travel they should look to ensure that costs would be refunded by airlines or hotels etc or be prepared to lose what had been paid.

Insurers have now moved on and cancellation cover is now readily available, but it can vary enormously. Generally, cover is provided for those catching COVID prior to travel but with different regulations imposed by different governments and airlines, cover with many insurers will depend on the individual circumstances. Things to watch will include whether cover applies to fellow travellers and non travelling family members who may need support should they contract COVID. Do not forget that if you have had COVID previously you may need to disclose it as a pre-existing condition and also, a few insurers may make being jabbed a policy requirement.

Currently, the main issue is with claims where there is a disinclination to travel (which is not usually insured unless due to Government advice) even though regulations allow travel and conversely, if regulations are once again tightened should there be an upsurge in COVID again, not all policies will provide cover.

Cover for claims due to changes in government or public authortity regulations has never been covered but over the years most insurers have been sympathetic when dealing with claims, european air routes being closed following the Icelandic ash cloud back in 2010 being an example.

In the early stages of the pandemic we found that insurers were taking a somewhat lenient attitude to claims but with losses mounting insurers hardened their stance on claims and strictly applied their policy wordings. For example, we had a client who booked a business trip to Nepal but a few days before the trip Nepal changed their COVID rules, requiring 14 days quarantine, making the trip pointless. As the flight still went ahead our client was unable to obtain a refund from the airline and their insurer, very harshly in our view, refused to pay.

Unfortunately, we are likely to see the harder side of insurers for a while yet.

Automatic over Manual

It seems that manual gearbox cars will gradually become a thing of the past. At present they still account for 70% of cars on UK roads but are now outsold by automatics, partly because most electric vehicles are automatic. And with more youngsters now taking their tests in automatics, and therefore only allowed to drive automatics. But at present insuring an automatic is also more expensive than a manual reflecting their higher price and cost of repair when the gearboxes are damaged.