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Coronavirus Travel Advice

Free Spirit Coronavirus Travel Advice

With the advancing coronavirus pandemic situation developing on a day-by-day basis, we created this page on the 30th January as a dynamic resource to provide all relevant and up-to-date information as we have it.

We would like to extend our sympathies to those who have been affected, clarify what cover may be available and provide information about the best steps to take.

As of the 27th April, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office still advise that all British people should avoid all non-essential international travel, while all the majority of countries have banned British travellers.

Opening Hours – due to the social isolation measures put in place by the UK government, we are now operating remotely, but with full availability from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. We will endeavour to maintain the same high level of service to you even during these challenging times.

We have prepared some FAQs to guide you through some of the questions and concerns you may have related to your travel insurance:

Am I insured if I travel against the advice if the FCO?

None of the policies underwritten by tifgroup will provide cover if you decide to travel against the advice of the FCO. This would be for ‘All Travel’ and ‘All but Essential Travel’. If the area is classified as ‘All but Essential Travel’ and customers are still planning to go they must have contacted us in advance with their reasons for travel and cover has been agreed by the Underwriters. 

What classes as essential travel (FCO)?

The FCO does not have a definition of what they class as ‘Essential Travel’. The FCO website states ‘Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. You may have urgent family or business commitments to attend to. Circumstances differ from person to person. Only you can make an informed decision based on the risks’.

Your policy will only cover ‘all but essential travel’ if customers have contacted us with their reasons for travel and cover has been agreed by the Underwriters.

Will my policy cover medical treatment for the Coronavirus? And will repatriation be covered?

If you catch Coronavirus or require medical treatment, then yes cover will be in place for emergency and necessary treatment. Customers should be aware that our policies are travel insurance policies and not private medical insurance meaning that there is no cover for any medical expenses incurred in private medical facilities if we have confirmed that medically capable public facilities are available.

Please contact our Medical Emergency Assistance Team if you require medical treatment on (0)203 829 6745.

Our policies will provide cover for repatriation (bringing you home) that is medically necessary. Our Assistance Team will liaise with your treating doctor(s) about your treatment plan and if required obtain a ‘fit to fly’ certificate. We also liaise with you and advise on, and put in place, suitable repatriation plans to get you home as soon as it is medically safe to do so in order to achieve your optimal recovery. Our team are unable to make arrangements to repatriate you where it is against local advice, where travel is restricted or where you would pose a risk to other passengers.

What cover is available under my policy in relation to Coronavirus?

This type of event is usually not covered across the travel insurance industry for cancellation. This is because most policies have specific reasons for cancellation and the “fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection or allergic reaction” or change in Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice is not one of those reasons.

We advise travellers who have booked package holidays to a destination affected by the viral outbreak and are looking to cancel their trip or amend their travel plans to contact their travel agent or tour operator in the first instance. Consumer advice for travellers is available from ABTA.

For policies purchased after 23:59 16th March 2020, there is no cover under this policy for:

  • Cancellation, abandonment or curtailment claims if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises you not to travel, for example where the FCO advise against all but essential travel to an area affected by Coronavirus, COVID-19, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-COV-2) or any mutation of Coronavirus, COVID-19 or SARs-COV-2.
  • Any claims as a result of Coronavirus, COVID-19, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-COV-2), any mutation of Coronavirus, COVID-19 or SARs-COV-2 or any pandemic or fear or threat of any the above. Except for the Emergency Medical Expenses section. This will only apply if you did not travel against the published advice of the FCO, any local government, local authority or WHO.
If I am stuck abroad due to the Coronavirus and cannot come home on my planned return date, will my travel insurance be extended to cover me until I can get home?

Cover may be extended for the following reasons:

  • If you are hospitalised, require medical treatment and are unable to fly.
  • If your transport is disrupted or delayed.
  • If you cannot return home for any reason beyond your control

Please read the policy wording for more information on this.

If I am quarantined due to the Coronavirus, what cover is in place?

If you are admitted to hospital your policy will usually provide assistance with returning home when you have been discharged.

Please contact our Assistance Team on (0)203 829 6745 if you are admitted to hospital.

If you are confined to your trip accommodation your policy may contribute towards the cost of food and additional accommodation, some may also include the additional costs of getting home. We would ask that you check your specific policy wording for more information on this.

What happens if I arrive at my holiday destination and they refuse entry due to the virus?

If you travel to an area which the FCO advise against travel to, there would be no cover under the travel insurance policies as this would be considered as a known event.

If you travel to an area and the FCO advice changes after leaving home, you should contact your travel agent or tour operator for information on the availability of flights or refunds in the first instance.

If you are refused entry at passport/border control, you should contact your airline or transport provider to arrange to change your return ticket to allow you to come home early.

Am I covered for travel disruption caused by the Coronavirus?

If you are unable to return home on your planned date your policy may contribute towards the cost of food and additional accommodation, it may also include the additional costs of getting home

If I go out on an excursion for the day and then am not allowed back to my travel accommodation (or cruise ship) due to quarantine, what cover do I have?

You should follow any instructions issued by the local authorities as it is more than likely that you will have to enter some form of quarantine.

Travelers should contact their travel agent or tour operator for assistance in the first instance.

Your policy may contribute towards the cost of food and additional accommodation, some may also include the additional costs of getting home. We would ask that you check your specific policy wording for more information on this.

Can I cancel my current policy and take a new policy which has cover for change in FCO advice?

Yes, however, we will only offer refunds in line with the policy terms. You should also be aware that there will be no cover if the FCO has already issued a directive to the area you are travelling to. Your new policy will only cover you for events and restrictions in areas that occur after the date you paid for your policy and may have different terms, conditions and premiums applied. 

Can I extend my cover if I am currently on a trip?

Unfortunately, if you are on a trip and want to extend your cover we will be unable to do so. The policy will expire at the originally agreed date. The only exception to this is if you need to extend your policy following a change in travel plans as a result of the airline reduction and border closures.

In which case, you may extend the policy if:

  • it hasn’t expired
  • no claims have been made or are to be submitted,
  • there has been no change in medical conditions, up to 7 days.

However, only a maximum of 7 days will be granted and no further extension will be given. If you have a valid insurance claim the usual criteria applies, with regards to your insurance extended as part of the assistance case or travel delay after checking in baggage.

Transfer of trips

On a single trip policy, if you have had your trip dates moved and you are not making a claim, then you may transfer the insurance to the new trip dates. You can do so by completing our online form.

If however there is a change of destination or additional duration then you will be charged the appropriate AP. If your health has changed you may need to rescreen or reconsider cover. Additionally, your new trip cannot be within 90 days from 20th March 2020.

If I have a stop-over in an area which the FCO advices against travel to, am I still covered?

We would suggest that if you have not started that part of your journey you contact your airline to change your travel plans to move on to the next part of your itinerary.

If you arrive at your stop-over airport and entry is denied due to the virus you should contact your airline to change your travel plans to move on to the next part of your itinerary.

Can my policy be changed to suit a ‘new/different’ holiday or trip?

If you are offered an alternative destination and or dates from your travel agent, we will shift your insurance policy to fit the new trip without any administration charges, providing the new trip is for the same duration and to the same location or geographical area. Please call the customer service team on the number listed in your policy wording.

What can I do with my policy if I am no longer travelling and have received a refund for my holiday?

At the moment, for any policyholders requesting refunds for single trips outside the 14 day cooling-off period Insurers require us to keep to the Terms and Conditions of the policy which limits the refund to 50% of the original premium.

However, we wish to help our customers as much as possible, especially during such a testing time. If your travel plans have been cancelled we are happy to freeze your policy until the time comes that you are able to re-book your travel arrangements; at which time we can re-commence your policy. Please note that if the destination, duration or your current medical situation changes, this may affect the premium.

For Annual multi-trip policies, we can also provide a proportionate refund of 5% for each full remaining month left on cover. Refunds are provided on the understanding that there have been no claims made or intending to be made.

If you wish to discuss this with us, please give us a call on 02392 419 080.

Our general advice to policy-holders at this time is:

  • To take guidance as provided by the FCO and adhere to its advice.
  • See the latest information and advice for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus from the Department of Health and Social Care
  • To not travel contrary to any travel restrictions as may be advised by any government or public/health authority.
  • To speak with your travel provider regarding any possible change(s) to your travel itinerary.
  • To continue to monitor any further advice as may be provided.
  • The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) has also produced general advice on preparing for foreign travel and how individuals can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

More information about travel and the Coronavirus:

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates as they become available.

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