Holidays booked and worried about the Coronavirus? This guide might help.
What started as an epidemic in one Chinese province, Coronavirus (or COVID-19), has unfortunately spread to many countries now, including our own. Many people still believe we should keep travelling to non-affected areas, as we can catch it at home as well as abroad. In fact some countries have not recorded any cases yet. This website is a handy source to have, it shows you the number of cases in each country. I have also compiled a list of the latest travel updates from Ireland, with travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as updates from various travel restrictions that are in place.
However, for many people, especially the elderly or those with ill-health, travelling at this time can still be a bit daunting. I have received numerous emails and messages from people who have holidays or flights booked asking should they travel, and are there any additional precautions they should take. I should point out that while I like to think I am a Travel Expert, I am not a medical expert, nor have I any idea how likely or unlikely that Coronavirus will spread to more countries.
I have answered your questions below to the best of my knowledge, but bear in mind that my answers may not be correct in all cases. It is imperative that you consult your airline, travel agent and insurance company to find out the impact of your own individual case. Many cruise lines have changed their cancellation and change fee policies, however most airlines have only waived change fees for new bookings only.
I will update this post as soon as I receive any further information, but in the meantime, I have compiled this guide on what to do if you have booked a holiday and are worried about the Coronavirus.
Make The Department of Foreign Affairs Your Go-To Website.
Visit DFA Website
Make sure you have Travel Insurance and Travel Disruption Cover.
In many cases, if you have travel insurance it should cover you if you are travelling to an affected area and need to cancel – within 14 days of your travel date. If you have not taken out travel insurance yet, do so now. It is possible that Covid-19 will not be covered on travel insurance policies in the future, so my advice is book a yearly or even two-yearly policy now. However, a moratorium will apply and the insurance will only be valid once this moratorium is over – usually 7 days. Note: new bookings will not be covered against Covid-19 if there is a travel advisory in place advising ‘all but non essential travel’ – i.e Spain or Italy.
There is an additional insurance cover that you can take called Travel Disruption Cover. I recommend you add this to your existing insurance policy immediately. If you happen to be travelling to an area with no known Coronavirus cases yet, you can add this to your existing policy and the additional cover will be in place after seven days.
What to do if you have booked with a travel agency:
If you have booked a holiday via a travel agency, you are in a more fortunate position. Your travel agent should be up to date with the latest travel advice and should be able to help you if you wish to change or cancel your booking. Bear in mind that your travel agent will only be able to cancel or change your booking in accordance with the advice from the DFA and what the airlines / tour operators are allowing them to do.
What to do if you have booked flights and hotels independently?
If you booked flights directly with the airline and a hotel via a hotel booking site, you will have to deal separately with the airline and hotel. This may not be straightforward, as there will be instances where you could be flying into an airport where there are no cases of Coronavirus recorded, but staying in a hotel where there is, or vice versa.
You need to understand that the airline and hotel may not be empathetic to your predicament. If you have not already taken out travel insurance, I would do so immediately, (moratorium will apply) and also add Travel Disruption Cover as mentioned above.
What happens if Coronavirus is not in the country I am travelling to, but I want to cancel anyway?
Unfortunately if you don’t want to travel because of coronavirus, the tour operator, airline or travel agent is not obliged to give you a refund. It is also unlikely that your travel insurance provider will cover you because you don’t want to travel.
TOP TIP: However all may not be lost! Check the cancellation fees on your booking. You may have paid more than the required deposit and maybe entitled to some refund. You may also be able to defer your booking to a later date or change the destination and pay a small amendment fee.
What precautions can I take to prevent me from getting Coronavirus?
- Travellers should practice cough etiquette -maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.
- Wash hands frequently, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment
- Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections
- Avoid close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals
What happens if you contract Coronavirus when abroad?
While I can not say what may happen to any individual, I can assure you that providing you are not travelling to a country where the DFA have advised against all but essential travel, your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses if you contract Coronavirus while abroad.
Other useful websites:
Multitrip.com – Travel Insurance
Note the above information are guidelines only. Please refer to your airline, travel agent and travel insurance provider for individual cases.