Coronavirus: Direct Line stops selling travel insurance after 'huge increase' in demand

Tom BelgerFinance and policy reporter
Yahoo Finance UK
Passengers in Rome as insurers stop offering travel insurance. (Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers in Rome as insurers stop offering travel insurance. (Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images)

Direct Line and Churchill have stopped selling travel insurance to new customers, blaming a surge in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Direct Line Group, which includes the brands, became the latest insurer to scale back its coverage as the outbreak has grown in Europe recent weeks.

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It said in a statement: “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.”

Read more: Saga cancels cruises after over-70s urged not to travel over coronavirus

It said there would be no change for customers who already had policies with Direct Line or Churchill, who could continue to make claims or amend their policies.

Aviva announced recently said it would continue to sell its core travel insurance, but without the option for add-on cover for “travel disruption” or “airspace closure.”

LV= also suspended sales to new customers, saying it would otherwise have to raise prices.

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

Read more: Norwegian says half its staff could face ‘temporary lay-offs’

Martin Lewis, of MoneySavingExpert.com, echoed the advice, and warned issues getting travel insurance were “likely to get worse” as the outbreak increases the chances of needing to claim.

He said he himself “wouldn’t be looking to go away” in the next two or three months.

But a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) told PA Media earlier this week that travel insurance remains “widely available.”

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,” he said.

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