As we are Australians I will be focusing on Australian passengers. Some of the below might be relevant to other countries.
Question: Will my Travel Insurance Cover me in our current travel crisis?
Answer: The short answer is it depends.
When did you buy the policy?
If you booked your travel insurance policy before to any travel bans or closures and the illness was a known entity, it is unlikely to be covered by any insurance company. For most travel insurance companies, anything after 20th January 2020 would not be covered.
And, what is written in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS)?
You know that annoying giant section no one ever reads when you purchase travel insurance. Annoyingly that is where all your answers should be answered.
Now that the World Health Organisation has finally called it a global pandemic many insurance companies will no longer cover anything to do with it.
Some insurance companies will have a clause that will not cover a pandemic (or acts of God or Terrorism). Some insurance companies do not mention pandemics and some are very vague. You really have to talk to your travel insurance provider.
Now many countries are in lock-down or have very strict travel bans in place it would be wise to not travel unless required. It is really sad if you have a trip coming up and you have to cancel it.
How to recoup travel expenses – cancelled flights
Here are some ways to recoup some of your travel expenses:
The airline cancelled the flight?
- You are legally entitled to a refund. Although it would appear all airlines are giving travel credits out present. You might feel this is unfair. It appears they need to do this to try to save their company. The company might not even have a refund to give you. It will require you to have a conversation with the airline.
- It is important to note that many airlines will go bankrupt very soon if they have no income. It is something to take into account.
The airline did not cancel the flight but you are unable to fly:
- Talk to your airline and see if they will waive the “change flight” fees. You might have to play hardball here. Some airlines are being understanding. Given the travel industry will be taking a massive hit, it is not surprising not all airlines will allow waiving fees.
- See if you can be given a credit from the airline particularly if the flight was expensive. Qantas and Jetstar are giving flight credits.
- If the airline won’t waive fees you should assess if you should pay to change the flights or not. That really depends on the change flight fees. This can be a very expensive exercise as you pay per section of the flight and per person AND you pay the difference in flights. If the flights are more expensive you pay for that. If they are cheaper, too bad. If it is too expensive, cut your losses and cancel the flight.
- RECOUP the flight taxes. Legally the airline has to refund your taxes paid in the ticket costs. You will have to apply to the airline. For budget flights, this can be a big chunk of the cost – somethings more than half the flight – obviously depending on where you are flying.
How to recoup travel expenses – accommodation booking cancellations
- If you have already paid your entire accommodation amount – talk to the accommodation, see if you can cancel with a refund. Depending on your booking and who you booked through, some will allow cancellations without cost up until a certain time period.
- If you are unable to get money back see if you can change the date, even if your booking was for no-changes. It cannot hurt to ask. Aim for September or October at a minimum if you have that flexibility.
- If all else fails, you have already paid and they refuse to give you a refund, ask for a credit that can be used at a later time.
- If you have booked with Airbnb you can now get a refund via their extenuating circumstances policy. It is allowing most people to cancel reservations penalty-free.
We are in new territory at the moment. It certainly feels like nature is telling us she is in power.
Here are some things to do to make you feel less anxious about the situation and help lower the curve:
- Stay home wherever possible
- Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice) and don’t forget the back of your hands. Dry your hands well.
- Don’t touch your face
- Check-in on your elderly neighbours to see if they have enough toilet paper and food.
We have to be a community and care about each other – from afar!