The Post Office is the latest in a string of travel insurance providers to halt sales of policies as coronavirus sweeps the globe. As of yesterday the Post Office decided to no longer make sales to new customers.
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A statement released by the insurance provider explained: “The Post Office has taken this difficult decision as it is unfair to sell travel insurance products to new customers who may not be able to claim due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Post Office Travel insurance products will therefore be unavailable to new customers for the foreseeable future.”
The news comes as many travel insurance companies realise they can no longer provide coverage for collateral damage as a result of COVID-19.
While airlines are reimbursing passengers for cancelled flights, many travel insurers can not offer financial support to cover the loss of hotels, tours and medical expenses.
A Post Office spokesperson said: “We recognise that this is an anxious time for travellers. The decision to suspend issuing travel insurance for new customers was not taken lightly.
“However, we believe it would be irresponsible to sell a product to a customer who would not be able to claim against COVID-19 given the number of countries that the FCO is advising against all but essential travel to.
“We urge all of our existing customers to monitor our travel alerts page on our website for all the latest information relating to their policy.”
However, for any travellers who purchased an insurance policy ahead of the decision, coverage will remain in place.
Holidaymakers who have already purchased a Post Office Travel Insurance policy can amend their trip dates to within 6 months of the original trip. If there is a change in destination or duration from the original booking, any fees would be payable.
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The Post Office follows big names including LV=, Aviva, InsureandGo, Churchill and Direct Line, who all amended their coverage options in the last week following the World Health Organisation’s decision to name the virus a pandemic.
A spokesperson for LV= emphasised that the pause on sales is only a temporary measure.
Speaking to Express.co.uk they said: “In light of the significant impact that coronavirus is having globally, LV= General Insurance has taken the difficult decision to pause the sale of travel insurance to new customers.
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“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the number of policies sold double.
“Whilst LV=is a major motor and home insurer, we are a small travel insurance provider and it’s important for the long-term benefit of all our customers that our exposure to this market remains at a sustainable level for the overall business.
“We considered a number of different options, such as excluding cover or significantly increasing prices for new customers but we strongly believe this temporary measure of pausing the sale of new policies and focusing on our existing customers is the right decision.
“There is no change for existing customers who already have a policy with us. They can contact us in the normal way if they need to make a claim, and we are also still offering renewals to our existing customers so they can continue to be insured with us.”
Meanwhile, insurance giant Aviva is still selling insurance, but has amended the type of coverage on offer. A spokesperson explained: “While new Aviva direct travel insurance customers can still purchase our core travel insurance, they will not be able to select our ‘travel disruption’ or ‘airspace closure’ add-ons.”
InsureandGo issued an update to its website, where the policy provider said it would continue to update customers are the COVID-19 situation unfolds.
Express.co.uk contacted Direct Line Group who said: “Our priority is to protect and service our existing customers and therefore we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the sale of travel insurance to new customers so that we can focus on our existing customers.
“For our customers who already hold a travel insurance policy with us there is no change and they can continue to contact us to make a claim or amend their policy.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also urged Britons to rethink their travel plans, and avoid any “unnecessary travel”.
Travel trade association ABTA also called for urgent support for the industry from Government.
“As a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak worldwide, the UK travel industry is facing a crisis of unprecedented scale, which is impacting hundreds of travel businesses and many thousands of their customers,” said ABTA in a statement today.
“ABTA – The Travel Association, is calling for urgent support from the Government to help businesses through the short-term.”
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