With the re-opening of the airport and ports to travel, many are asking about their insurance policy and what it will cover exactly if something happens when they are travelling because of COVID-19. The Malta Financial Services Authority MFSA said that the policies which were issued before the pandemic and which cover pandemics as a risk, are still valid and the companies cannot withdraw from their obligations. However one needs to check with insurance companies to see whether policies which are issued now cover situations related to COVID-19, on matters such as receiving medical treatment to losing one’s flight.
With Maltese residents now able to travel without restrictions to at least 20 European destinations, the President of the Association of Travel Agents, Ian Tonna said that to date they have noted a cautious interest in travelling, with the Maltese preferring areas in the countryside rather than busy city centres. “Right now the demand is for places such as Austria and Germany because there are beautiful landscapes and there is the perception that they are safer than other countries.”
The reality of travelling will be different from the way it was before 20 March. Apart from a change in our experience at the airport, whoever books a holiday will not be protected by a travel insurance policy if the flight is cancelled because of the pandemic.
Emily Benson from the MFSA recommends that whoever buys or already had a policy to contact their insurance company. “You must check with the insurer and tell them what your travel plans are because at the moment we have the potential for there to be these air corridors opening up and it would seem every likely that travelling in these zones will be otherwise covered by your travel policies possibly with the exclusion of medical cover, however with regards to the countries that are not on a prohibitory list and are not a safe corridor then the position is unclear and therefore the message to consumers before you book your holiday please contact your insurer and ask them about the position”.
Adrian Galea is of the same opinion and encourages all those who are going to travel to read their policy carefully and in the case of difficulty, to consider three solutions. “You can approach the airline, or if you have used a credit card, you can approach the credit card company and the third solution is the insurance company, of course depending on whether the cancellation applies.”
At the beginning of the pandemic in March, the MFSA had issued a circular to insurance companies who had already issued insurance policies to remind them that they cannot withdraw, revoke or introduce new conditions to them.