Travel insurance providers look to extend protection for medical emergencies

Travel insurers are looking at extending protections which could help to cover customers who are still abroad for any emergency medical treatment they may need.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it welcomes Government efforts to assist with repatriation, and its members are also committed to supporting those who are stuck abroad.

It said ABI travel insurers are looking at allowing longer periods of protection for customers who are still overseas for the risk of needing emergency medical treatment while they are waiting to get back to the UK.

Most travel insurance policies already have automatic extensions built in so that people can continue to be covered against the risk of emergency medical treatment when they are stuck abroad due to ongoing travel restrictions.

Sometimes these extensions have a limit of up to 30 days, but given the exceptional circumstances leading ABI members will look to extend this protection to cover the risk of emergency medical treatment for 60 days potentially, provided customers are making every effort to return home.

It means that insurers will try to be more flexible by looking wherever they can to extend cover, rather than simply relying on policy wording around usual limits.

An ABI spokesman said: “Travel insurers know that this is a worrying and uncertain time for anyone trying to get home to the UK.

“This step should help relieve the added worry of: What happens if I need emergency medical treatment beyond when my travel policy would normally end?”

On March 23, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised all UK residents who were travelling abroad to return home.

The FCO announced on Monday that it would charter flights from destinations around the world where commercial routes have been severed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many travel insurers have paused the sale of cover to new customers, or placed restrictions on policies, following the coronavirus outbreak.