TRAVELLERS with a holiday booked to Italy might be wondering if they should cancel their trip because of coronavirus – here we explain your refund rights.
The travel advice for Italy was updated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) over the weekend after 16 million people were placed on lockdown in the north of the country.
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Travellers are being warned against visiting the entire of the Lombardy region, including Milan, as well as 14 provinces.
Venice, in the Veneto region, has also been included in the list of no-go areas.
Italy has seen the largest number of cases of COVID-19 in Europe with more than 7,300 people infected and 366 deaths at the time of writing.
So what happens if you have a trip booked, and can you get a refund if you cancel because of coronavirus?
Areas the FCO has advised not to travel to
HERE are the regions the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against travelling to due to coronavirus:
- All of mainland China
- All of the Lombardy region
- Reggio Emilia and Rimini
- Pesaro and Urbino
- Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli
- Treviso and Venice
Can I cancel my Italy holiday and get a refund?
If you've got a flight booked to one of the areas that the FCO is advising tourists not to travel to, then you should be entitled to a refund.
Your first point of call should be to contact your airline or, if you booked through a third-party agent, the company you booked your flight with.
EasyJet is "reviewing" flights to Milan and Venice and said on Twitter that a number of flights would be cancelled today.
British Airways are allowing passengers who have holidays to Venice, Milan or Bergamo up until April 4 to get a full refund, while trips to Turin, Bologna and Verona up until April 4 can be rebooked for free until May 31.
Ryanair is yet to update its travel advice but has already scrapped hundreds of flights to Italy due to a drop in demand.
If your trip is still a few months away, it's worth contacting your airline to see if they'll refund you now or if you need to wait until nearer the time.
Latest travel advice after coronavirus outbreak
BELOW is a list of the latest travel advice for popular destinations.
- Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan
Hotels are slightly more complicated as they usually set their own cancellation policies.
Travellers are being recommended to get in contact with their accommodation, or the company they booked it through, to discuss their booking.
If your hotel provider or airline is refusing to budge and you have travel insurance, you should get in contact with your policy provider to discuss your options.
You'll also need to go through your insurance provider to try and claim money back for extras including car hire and parking at the airport.
Refunds will only cover places that have been deemed unsafe at the time of travel or for an upcoming holiday.
For areas in Italy that aren't listed, such as Rome or Florence, airlines and hotels are unlikely to offer you a refund, or let you reschedule without paying a fee.
Free cancellations aren't guaranteed if you've booked through an ATOL-protected tour operator either.
How to make sure you've got a travel insurance policy that covers you
To make sure you're covered, you need to check the small print of your policy before buying.
Since the outbreak, some insurers have started inserting "no coronavirus claims" clauses into new contracts, according to Martyn James from complaints tool Resolver.
You should also avoid policies that won't cover you in the case of a pandemic, should COVID-19 continue to spread and escalate to this level.
If your policy contains a "disinclination to travel" clause then you won't be covered if you decide not to go on holiday.
Only policies that have a "cancel for any reason" clause will cover you for these kinds of cancellations.
However, you would need to cancel your trip at least 48 hours before the departure date and you may only get 50 to 75 per cent of your money back.
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some 'must have' features you should look out for from the Money Advice Service.
- Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
- Repatriation service – The costs of getitng you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay – You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
If the place you were planning on visiting has already been including on the FCO ban list, you won't be able to take out a new policy for holidays until it is lifted.
Read our full guide on how to check your insurance policy to see if it will cover you for coronavirus cancellations.
Patrick Ikhena, head of travel at comparethemarket.com, said: "We have seen a huge spike in purchases for travel insurance in recent days, which could well be down to the British public’s growing concern about the coronavirus.
"If the FCO is advising against all but essential travel to a particular region you will likely be covered by any disruption caused to your holiday plans – providing your trip and insurance policy was purchased before the outbreak.
"However, if the UK government has not issued advice warning against travel to a particular country you cannot expect compensation for your trip unless the state-of-play changes."
We've rounded up advice on why you should buy travel insurance now as coronavirus continues to spread.
Here's what your travel insurer, package holiday provider and airline will cover if your holiday is affected by coronavirus.
Can your employer ban you from going on holiday if they're worried about the coronavirus outbreak?
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