Insurance and coronavirus (Covid-19): information for consumers

We are working closely with firms to understand the potential impact on consumers caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Find out how coronavirus could impact your insurance.

We continue to make clear that firms must treat customers fairly at this time and consider the needs of anyone potentially affected by coronavirus.

Find out more about:

Insurance customers in financial difficulty

If you are struggling to afford your insurance payments because of the impact of coronavirus, you should contact your insurer to discuss your options. It is important that you maintain essential insurance cover and don’t leave yourself uninsured.

Insurers will have a range of options they may consider appropriate to help you, including:

  • reviewing your cover based on risk/needs to reduce premiums
  • premium payment deferrals
  • waiving administration and cancelation fees
  • relaxing charges or interest incurred for missed payments
  • extending cooling off periods
  • partly refunding premium payments where the whole amount has been paid up front

Product value

Customers should expect value from the products they buy, and this is particularly important in the current period of economic uncertainty. We have asked insurers to assess how coronavirus has affected the value of the products they offer within the next 6 months to ensure that the cover they provide still meets customers’ needs. Many insurance providers are already considering how their products have been affected by coronavirus and are taking action, for example by offering customer rebates.

If you are struggling to afford your insurance payments see our section on 'Insurance customers in financial difficulty' above.

Paying for insurance by instalments

If you are paying for your insurance policy by monthly instalments and you’re still facing short-term cash flow problems because of coronavirus, contact your insurer, lender or insurance broker and explain your situation. 

They may review your cover to see if your premiums can be reduced or be able to offer you a freeze on repayments for a short period. If they do not consider a payment freeze to be in your interest, they should offer you other ways of getting temporarily relief. For example:

  • accepting reduced repayments, or rescheduling the term
  • waiving missed or late payment fees
  • permitting a customer to amend their repayment date without any cost

What this might mean for you

  • You may be able to make no (or reduced) payments for a short period of time
  • Your insurance policy cover will continue in this period which means if you need to make a claim on your policy during this period, you should be able to do so
  • This won’t affect your credit file for the period of the payment freeze or reduced payments. However, if after this period you remain unable to resume normal payments this may be reflected on your credit file
  • If you can afford to keep up repayments, either in full or a smaller sum, then you should do so.

You will be able to request help under these measures at any point during the period up to 18 August 2020.

Travel insurance

Holidays booked before 1 March 2020

In most cases, if you booked your travel or holiday before 1 March 2020, and had travel insurance in place at that time, travel insurance providers will cover claims for cancellation or curtailment, depending on their policy terms and conditions. You should speak to your insurer in the first instance.

Booking a holiday

Anyone planning to travel should check Government advice. Before booking a holiday, you will need to speak to insurance providers and discuss the cover that will best suit your needs. Policies may contain exclusions that would affect your ability to claim for incidents caused by coronavirus.

When booking a holiday, you should consider whether you need a travel policy that provides cover for:

  • cancellation due to new Government (FCO) advice against travelling, or restrictions imposed by overseas governments
  • cancellation due to a member of the party or a close relative contracting coronavirus
  • emergency medical treatment or repatriation resulting from the policyholder or a member of the party being diagnosed with coronavirus while travelling

You should also read carefully any other information or exclusions relating to coronavirus (or other pandemics).

If the insurance cover available does not cover these issues then you would not be able to claim. You should think carefully about whether you would have other avenues to get a refund, if you would be willing to lose the cost of your trip, or how you would pay for medical treatment before booking.

My holiday or flight has been cancelled

If your holiday is cancelled, and your provider is ABTA or ATOL protected, you should speak to your holiday provider directly about whether they can provide a refund or re-booking for another date.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued specific guidance about coronavirus, with information if your flight has been delayed or cancelled. You should also read the section on compensation.

If you've had a holiday or event cancelled due to coronavirus, find out about your rights and how you can attempt to claim a refund.  

Deciding not to travel to areas that the FCO has not advised against visiting

You should check your travel insurance policy to understand what is covered. Travel insurance does not usually cover ‘disinclination to travel’ (which means you have decided not to travel but the FCO advice has not changed to advise against travel). If you have decided not to travel, your travel insurer will not offer compensation.

Essential and non-essential travel

Anyone planning to travel should check Government advice. You will need to speak to insurance providers and discuss the cover that will best suit your needs. There may be instances where cover is not available. If you are travelling against Government advice, your travel insurance will not be valid unless it is essential.

Coronavirus exclusion

Some travel insurance policies bought before 1 March 2020 did not have coronavirus as an exclusion. If you are trying to buy travel insurance today, you will need to speak to insurance providers and discuss the cover that will best suit your needs. There may be instances where cover is not available.

If your insurer has advised that coronavirus is not covered as part of your policy (ie it is an exclusion) and you catch the virus while abroad, your travel insurance will not be valid. Speak to your insurer before travelling and ask what is and what is not covered. 

Renewing your travel insurance

If your travel insurance is due for renewal, contact your provider to discuss it in good time. It may be that, after renewal, the policy will no longer cover claims because of coronavirus.

Self-isolation

Cover available for self-isolation (eg extended hotel accommodation) while travelling will vary depending on the policy. If you have to self-isolate due to coronavirus while you are travelling, contact your travel insurer.

Motor and home insurance

Many people will be changing the locations from which they perform certain activities and where they keep certain items. For example, people may need to use their home much more as a work place during the current situation and keep some work-related assets at their home address. You may be concerned that this conflicts with the cover under your current policy.

We expect insurers to take into account any change in a customer’s circumstances because of coronavirus (eg, working from home or driving to work). Insurers should ensure that any change in circumstances to comply with government advice and requirements does not impact their customer’s current home contents or motor policy. 

If your vehicle is due for MOT soon

Many people will have their MOT due in the next couple of months and may be unable to have this service carried out because of the Government's coronavirus restrictions. 

The Department for Transport has updated its website, stating that MOT expiry dates for cars, vans or motorcycles will be extended by 6 months if the MOT was due between 30 March 2020 and 31 July 2020. An MOT certificate will not be extended if a vehicle’s MOT expires on or after 1 August 2020. An MOT must be booked as usual.

We encourage consumers to read the full guidance.

We expect insurers to take into account the guidance and ensure that consumers’ car, motorcycle or van insurance is not negatively affected in terms of their cover - including at renewal to ensure that customers are able to shop around for the cover that meets their needs.

Business interruption (BI) insurance

We understand that a number of businesses have been frustrated with their insurer, specifically in relation to their BI insurance. Based on our conversations with insurers to date, our estimate is that most policies have basic cover and do not cover pandemics. Therefore there is no obligation for the insurer to pay out claims in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. In cases where it is clear that the firm has an obligation to pay out on a policy, we expect insurers to assess and settle the claim quickly. Also, where there is a valid claim, we are encouraging insurers to issue interim payments to ease some of the burden on small businesses. If you bought your policy through an insurance broker, you may want to speak to them in the first instance.

If you are unhappy with your insurer's approach (eg poor claims outcome, how the claim was dealt with, length of time) and your business annual turnover is below £6.5m, and has fewer than 50 employees or an annual balance sheet below £5m, it is likely to fall within the jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service, where you can refer your complaint to. This can offer the prospect of faster decisions (on claims of up to £355,000) than a Court Process and, where appropriate, more timely payments that help firms recover from the impact of coronavirus, if the outcome is successful.

Access to premises

Following Government restrictions on travel and the ongoing coronavirus situation, you may not be able to access your main or additional residential properties, while businesses may not be able to access commercial premises. Where access is required as part of the terms of a policy, we expect insurers to take account of the temporary change in how you access those premises, and treat you fairly. We don’t expect insurers to void policies or reduce potential claims as a result. Contact your insurer if you are concerned about being unable to access your property.

Event cancellation

If an event that you were due to attend has been cancelled, you will need to contact ticket operator or the venue who may reschedule the event or offer a refund. In some instances, they may have contacted ticket holders already.  

Renewing your insurance policy

If your insurance is due for renewal, contact your insurance company to discuss in good time. It may be that, after renewal, the policy will no longer cover claims due to coronavirus.

If your insurance company can’t engage with you at the point of renewal as they would normally do so, for example because you are ill and in hospital, they may decide that it’s in your best interests to renew the policy, providing you with continuity of cover.

If, once you are better, you think the policy no longer meets your needs or you have other concerns, you should contact your insurance company. We expect them to treat you fairly.

Product suspension

We’re aware that some insurance firms are considering or have stopped selling new insurance policies to customers. We are not able to prevent firms from removing or amending products from the market for new customers as it is a decision for individual insurers. If you are looking for insurance, we suggest you speak directly to an insurer or insurance broker and ensure you buy insurance that fits with your demands and needs. 

Page updates

30/06/2020: Information changed MOT section updated following Department for Transport update on MOT extensions

29/06/2020: Information added Additional information under booking a holiday

18/05/2020: Information added Insurance customers in financial difficulty and on Paying for insurance by instalments

06/05/2020: Information added Access to premises added

16/04/2020: Information added Business interruption (BI) insurance

31/03/2020: Information added Updated advice for consumers renewing their insurance policy