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Coronavirus: what are your travel rights?


Find out when you’ll be entitled recoup your costs if your travel plans are affected by the Coronavirus outbreak


The spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) has caused siginifcant travel disruption since its outbreak in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019.

If you’ve booked a trip, your right to cancel and get a refund depends on the latest travel advice issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The FCO issues advice to UK nationals about where it’s safe to travel abroad.

We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about your rights if you need to cancel a holiday because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

What has the government said about travel?

Currently, the FCO has warned against travel to the Hubei Province in Wuhan, China – the source of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is also advising against all but essential travel to mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macau), Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea and 11 towns in Italy as shown in the table below.

Daegu and CheongdoSouth Korea
Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San FioranoItaly

For the latest travel updates read the FCO’s Coronavirus travel advice

What happens if my travel plans are cancelled because of Coronavirus?

If you have booked a trip to an area which the FCO advises against travel or all but essential travel to, get in contact with your airline or holiday provider first.

They will be able to advise you on the options available to you including a refund for your trip or alternative dates for your holiday.  

If neither your airline nor travel company offer refunds then get in touch with your travel insurer.

Travel insurance may cover non-refundable travel costs depending on your circumstances including flights, accommodation or event tickets.

What happens if I get Coronavirus or am quarantined on holiday?

You need to alert your travel insurance provider as soon as possible if you’re diagnosed with Coronavirus while travelling. Your insurer will be able to advise you of your options and the medical expenses you will be able to cover.

If you fall ill in Europe, your European health Insurance Card (Ehic) will entitle you to the same treatment as local citizens (until 31 December 2020 when the Brexit transition period ends).

If you are not diagnosed with Coronavirus but are put into quarantine abroad, you may be able to claim for out-of-pocket expenses from your insurer.

What happens if the FCO has not advised against travel to your destination?

If the FCO has not advised against travelling to your destination but you decide against going anyway, you won’t be able to claim the cost of your trip.

Travel insurers refer to this as ‘disinclination’ to travel which is not seen as a valid reason to claim.

What happens if I travel against the FCO’s advice?

If you travel to a destination against the FCO’s advice, your travel insurance policy will be invalidated.

This means that you won’t be able to make any claims.

Where the government advises against “all but essential travel” to a destination, you should check with your insurance company if they’ll cover you if you proceed. Holidays are unlikely to be considered essential so you may not be insured if you went ahead.

Do I need travel insurance if I’m going to a non-listed country?

It’s vital to buy travel insurance as soon as you book any holiday. Travel insurance covers the cost of unexpected incidents that may occur before you set off on your trip as well as covering you while you’re away. 

Before purchasing a policy be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully to ensure that you get the cover you need. If anything is unclear, get in touch with the provider for clarification. 

Once you sign up to a policy it will be impossible to claim for things that are expressly excluded. 

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