OVER-60s may be forced to abandon their plans for holidays abroad after travel insurers refused to cover any cancellation claims related to Covid-19.
Insurers stopped selling travel insurance as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March, but policies are now being reintroduced with key alterations made to them. The new policies define Covid-19 as a “known event” meaning any cancellation claims related to the disease will now not be covered. This will potentially have a greater impact on the travel plans of over-60s, the age group most at risk from the deadly virus and therefore most likely to cancel holidays in the event of a second infectious wave.
Insurance firms say that the measure is temporary and insist medical claims for Covid-19 treatment will still be covered.
Moreover, bookings made before the pandemic swept the globe should still be covered by existing travel insurance.
However, experts fear the new exclusion could last until a vaccine comes onto the scene, which is at least a year away.
Paul Charles, who works for the travel consultancy The PC Agency, told the Sunday Telegraph: “Anyone over the age of 60 will be reluctant to travel until there is a vaccine in mass production, at least one year away.
“They will be nervous about being in a country where the virus could re-emerge, overwhelming healthcare systems and possibly leading to borders being closed at short notice.”
He added that any insurance which does give full cover for the virus will probably be very expensive, and that retirees would most likely have to settle for domestic holidays.
The travel industry is currently trying to thrash out a deal with insurance firms to ensure holidaymakers will be sufficiently covered by their insurance once restrictions are lifted.
A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the trade body, said: “Insurers know that insurance cover for Covid-19 will be important for restoring consumers with the confidence to travel again and so will look to extend cover again where they can, when they can.”
She said many insurers have changed their policy wording but that this is a “temporary position that insurers will continue to review”.
She added: “The Covid-19 exclusions in place will vary from insurer to insurer but you will still be covered for other medical emergencies.”
This comes as Virgin Atlantic is making contingency plans for a possible bankruptcy.
The airline company, founded and part-owned by the entrepreneur Richard Branson, has been desperately trying to raise a £500 million loan to secure its business future.