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Aviva, Direct Line and Churchill pull sale of travel insurance to new customers

Aviva, Direct Line and Churchill have temporarily suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers (PA)
Aviva, Direct Line and Churchill have temporarily suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers (PA)

Aviva, Direct Line and Churchill have suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers due to the impact of coronavirus.

The temporary pause follows similar moves from other insurers that have reduced or halted the sale of travel cover for now.

Admiral and LV= have also paused sales of travel cover, while Axa UK has put some restrictions on the protection it is offering.

A statement from insurance giant Aviva said: “Following a review of the evolving risks posed by coronavirus, we have decided that it is necessary to make some changes to the travel insurance we can offer our direct customers at this challenging time.

“Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events and coronavirus is a known event which creates a high likelihood that customers’ travel plans will be affected.

“For new customers, we have therefore made the decision to pause the sale of Aviva’s travel insurance from 3pm on March 13 2020.

“We envisage that this decision, affecting Aviva’s single and multi-trip travel insurance, will be a temporary action. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Aviva said that, as coronavirus is a “known event”, Aviva travel insurance customers booking trips may not be covered on their multi-trip policies for cancellation and abandonment, depending on their destination.

A statement released earlier on Friday from Direct Line Group on behalf of Direct Line and Churchill said: “Due to the impact that coronavirus is having across the world we have experienced a huge increase in demand for travel insurance.

“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.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and we carefully considered many different options prior to reaching this decision.

“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.

“We remain committed to the travel insurance market and would reiterate that this is a temporary measure and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Axa has also placed information on its website which says: “If you purchase a new policy now, it will not cover any trip cancellation or disruption in relation to coronavirus.

“If you already have an annual multi-trip policy and you book a new trip now, you may not be covered to cancel that trip, or for any disruption you experience.”

Axa’s website said the coronavirus exclusion only applies to cancellation or disruption claims.

It added: “We will continue to cover medical costs if customers become ill in a country or region the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) hasn’t advised against visiting.”

Coronavirus cases in Europe
(PA Graphics)

A statement from Admiral said: “Like other insurers we’ve made the difficult decision to pause the sale of new travel insurance policies in light of the global impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) as of March 12 2020.

“We considered different options, such as excluding cover, for new customers before introducing this temporary measure.

“We strongly believe that pausing the sale of new policies to focus on our existing customers is the right decision and will keep monitoring the situation.

“Our existing customers are not affected and annual multi-trip policies can still be renewed.”

In a statement placed on its website earlier this week, LV= also said it has paused the sale of travel insurance to new customers – otherwise it may have had to ramp up its prices.

It said: “We considered a number of different options, such as excluding cover or significantly increasing prices for new customers. We strongly believe this temporary measure of pausing the sale of new policies and focusing on our existing customers is the right decision.”

LV= said there is no change for existing customers who already have a policy and it is still offering renewals.

Consumer group Which? has said that anyone looking to buy travel insurance should shop around and read the terms of their policy closely to ensure that they will be covered in the event of disruption.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said earlier this week: “Insurance is based on assessing the possibility of an event occurring. Insurers will take account of when any risk becomes more of a probability than a possibility, making whatever commercial decisions that they feel are prudent.”