Customer queries over lost breaks rose by 60pc
A leading travel insurance provider has changed its rules to allow thousands of policyholders to claim for Covid-19 cancellations.
In March, Vhi said it was excluding virus-related claims for those renewing their MultiTrip insurance this year.
But in a major change, it will now allow anyone renewing their cover to claim for a cancelled holiday, as long as it was booked before March 19.
It means someone who had booked a holiday at the start of the year, but renewed their policy in May, will be able to make a claim if the flights and accommodation have been cancelled and they cannot get a refund from the airline or the accommodation provider.
The blanket refusal to allow any claims caused by or relating to Covid-19 had prompted many customers to question the value of their insurance cover.
Some had asked if they should be refunded their premiums as a result.
Vhi says it has now set up a fund to pay out on claims for coronavirus disruption. It said this means "all renewing customers will be covered for trip cancellation due to Covid-19 for any planned trips in 2020 provided they were booked prior to March 19, 2020".
The insurer has seen a 60pc rise in queries from customers about making a claim for a trip cancellation.
The insurer will also lift the exclusion on emergency medical cover abroad, provided people are not travelling against Government advice.
A spokeswoman for Vhi said that for staycation travellers, the domestic trip cancellation benefit is being enhanced to cover all overnight pre-booked trips.
And it is extending the cooling-off period to 28 days.
"As we approach what would have been the peak of the travel season, we continue to see increasing volumes of cancellation claims for pre-booked trips," Vhi said.
Meanwhile, Ciarán Mulligan of Blue Insurance and Multitrip.com said that consumers with these policies would have claims for Covid-related cancellations met if they booked before March 13. This applies to existing and renewed policyholders and is on the condition that people are not travelling against the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and are unable to get a refund from the airline and the accommodation provider.
Ryanair has dismissed as "rubbish" reports that it is selling travel policies which will be invalidated if people fly with the airline while Government restrictions on travel overseas remain in force.
A clause in the travel insurance policy offered by the airline makes it clear that people will not be able to make claims if anything happens while they are overseas if they have travelled outside the State contrary to advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs. The airline said: "Ryanair's insurance claims will not be rejected on the basis of the Irish Government advisory.
"In any case, thousands of Ryanair customers are booking flights to travel over the next 12 months, whereas the Government advisory is likely to be withdrawn (as it has been in most other EU countries) over the coming days." However, travel insurance experts said no insurer was paying out for claims made when people travel against Government advice.
Ryanair did not respond when asked why it was saying that reports its travel policies would be invalidated if someone travel contrary to advice were "rubbish".
Several weeks ago, the idea of even stepping outside your local area felt like a fantasy. But slowly, as lockdown restrictions ease, the situation seems to be changing, and there's a glimmer of hope it might be possible to enjoy a holiday this year.
Aer Lingus Regional operator Stobart Air has confirmed that it intends to resume two routes between Ireland and the UK from July 14, with services from Dublin to Edinburgh and Glasgow for "essential travel".