Direct Line and Churchill pull sale of travel insurance to new customers

Direct Line and Churchill have suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers due to the impact of coronavirus.

The temporary pause follows similar moves from other insurers that have reduced or halted the sale of travel cover for now.

A statement from Direct Line Group on behalf of Direct Line and Churchill said: “Due to the impact that coronavirus is having across the world we have experienced a huge increase in demand for travel insurance.

“Our priority is to protect and service our existing customers and therefore we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the sale of travel insurance to new customers so that we can focus on our existing customers.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and we carefully considered many different options prior to reaching this decision.

“For our customers who already hold a travel insurance policy with us there is no change and they can continue to contact us to make a claim or amend their policy.

“We remain committed to the travel insurance market and would reiterate that this is a temporary measure and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Earlier this week, insurance giant Aviva said that following a review of its travel insurance, it has decided to adjust its cover to reflect the current risks posed by coronavirus.

A statement from Aviva said this means that while new Aviva direct travel insurance customers can still buy its core travel insurance, they will not be able to select add-on cover for “travel disruption” or “airspace closure”.

Aviva has also paused its single-trip direct travel insurance for new customers travelling to Italy due to coronavirus.

Existing customers who have already bought cover are unaffected by the new restrictions.

A statement from Aviva said: “Insurance is designed to provide cover for unforeseen and unexpected events and is priced on this basis.

Coronavirus cases in Europe
(PA Graphics)

“The outbreak of the coronavirus means there is an increased likelihood of disruption to people’s travel plans.

“We envisage that these decisions, affecting only Aviva’s travel insurance new business, will be temporary actions.”

In a statement on its website, LV= said it has paused the sale of travel insurance to new customers – otherwise it may have had to ramp up its prices.

It said: “We considered a number of different options, such as excluding cover or significantly increasing prices for new customers. We strongly believe this temporary measure of pausing the sale of new policies and focusing on our existing customers is the right decision.”

LV= said there is no change for existing customers who already have a policy and it is still offering renewals.

Consumer group Which? said this week that anyone looking to buy travel insurance should shop around and read the terms of their policy closely to ensure that they will be covered in the event of disruption.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said previously: “Anyone planning a holiday should get insurance as soon as they book. If you haven’t already booked insurance and are travelling soon, we urge you to get cover immediately from a reputable insurer.”

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said this week that travel insurance remains “widely available”.

He said previously: “Insurance is based on assessing the possibility of an event occurring. Insurers will take account of when any risk becomes more of a probability than a possibility, making whatever commercial decisions that they feel are prudent.”

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