Coronavirus: Holidaymakers facing losses as travel insurers move to drop cover

Many could be out of pocket as some insurers activate exclusion clauses in existing policies

Irish holidaymakers could be left facing huge losses on cancelled holidays as a result of clauses in travel insurance documents which invalidate cover in circumstances such as the spread of coronavirus.

Some companies have started activating exclusion clauses buried deep in their terms and conditions which exclude cover in the event the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares a pandemic, as has happened in recent days.

Travel insurance companies in Ireland, the UK and across the world have also been racing to protect themselves from a massive volume of claims by excluding cover connected to Covid-19 from future policies.

And, as fears mount over the survival of some airlines in the weeks and months ahead due to grounded flights and widespread travel restrictions, some companies are dropping cover in the event airlines can no longer fly to a particular destination.


As it stands, those looking to buy travel insurance for future trips will struggle to find any policies that offer cover to coronavirus related claims.


The company that underwrites much of the travel insurance in Ireland has updated its guidelines for people who plan to travel outside the country in the months ahead and are concerned about changes to their plans due to coronavirus.

Mapfre, which also sells under its brand, has imposed "specific exclusion for claims relating to coronavirus disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) or any mutation of these."

It has also pulled back from offering cover on policies for “scheduled airline failure”.

The moves by insurers in Ireland mirrors steps being taken in the UK where travel insurers have also withdrawn cover for future coronavirus claims. Some British companies have even stopped selling all travel insurance with immediate effect.


Some people who have been trying to make claims under existing polices have been told that as the WHO has declared coronavirus to be a pandemic, claims will not be processed.

While most consumers rarely read the small print in travel insurance policies, companies have been quick to point out that among the general exclusions in many policies is a restriction on making a claim as a result of “any epidemic or pandemic.”

If a policy contains such a get-out clause, then many Irish people could be out of pocket to the tune of thousands of euro as a result of booking holidays which they can no longer take due to the global spread of Covid-19.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast