The insurers Direct Line and Churchill have resumed offering cancellation cover to travel customers forced to cancel a holiday due to Covid-19.
As the pandemic gathered pace in March 2020, the travel insurers said they would no longer cover holidaymakers who were forced to cancel their trip if they contracted the virus, or the travel rules changed as a result of Covid.
On Tuesday, UK Insurance, the owner of the Direct Line and Churchill brands, reversed its decision and announced its policies would offer extensive Covid-related cancellation cover.
The move, which is an example of business returning to something approaching normal in the travel sector, is likely to be followed by the other big insurers.
Direct Line said policyholders would be able to claim cancellation losses if instructed to quarantine or self-isolate, including in cases where an individual is contacted by NHS test and trace but has not been diagnosed with Covid.
They will also be able to claim if a Covid-related government lockdown prevents them from travelling. Passengers will also be eligible to claim if the Foreign Office (FCDO) changes it advice on travel after they booked either the trip or bought the travel policy. The changes also affect worldwide family travel insurance offered through the Nationwide building society’s FlexPlus account, as Direct Line underwrites this cover.
Tom Bishop, the head of travel insurance at Direct Line and Churchill, said: “As the world begins to reopen and the government relax[es] Covid-19 travel restrictions, Direct Line and Churchill want to give customers back their freedom and allow greater choice when planning to travel.
“Our new approach aims to support the recovery of the travel industry and will give customers greater confidence to travel if they wish to, whilst offering the choice of cancelling or travelling where FCDO advice is against ‘all but essential’ travel.”
Direct Line’s move will be welcomed by holidaymakers, who will be able to visit more countries without restrictions.
On Monday England’s new Covid rules governing international travel came into force allowing easier travel to a number of destinations.
Travel to the US is about to resume, and bookings for half term, Christmas and 2022 are at record levels.
In June, the consumer group Which? warned that less than 1% of UK travel insurance policies provided full comprehensive cover for Covid-related disruption.