In a statement, the travel insurance firm said: “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.
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“We have not taken this decision lightly and we carefully considered many different options prior to reaching this decision.
“For our customers who already hold a travel insurance policy with us there is no change and they can continue to contact us to make a claim or amend their policy.
“We remain committed to the travel insurance market and would reiterate that this is a temporary measure and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.
“More information for current Direct Line Travel Insurance customers can be found at: https://www.directline.com/travel-insurance/coronavirus
“More information for current Churchill Travel Insurance customers can be found at: https://www.churchill.com/travel-insurance/coronavirus.”
Express.co.uk contacted Direct Line Group. They said: “For our customers who already hold a travel insurance policy with us there is no change and they can continue to contact us to make a claim or amend their policy.”
Travel insurance companies across the UK have been scaling back their offerings as coronavirus takes hold around the world.
The move was first made by insurer LV= which shocked the industry late last night when it decided it would stop selling all travel insurance policies with immediate effect. Insurers including Aviva, InsureandGo and the Post Office soon followed suit.
A spokesperson for LV= emphasised that the pause on sales is only a temporary measure.
Speaking to Express.co.uk they said: “In light of the significant impact that coronavirus is having globally, LV= General Insurance has taken the difficult decision to pause the sale of travel insurance to new customers. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the number of policies sold double.
“Whilst LV=is a major motor and home insurer, we are a small travel insurance provider and it’s important for the long-term benefit of all our customers that our exposure to this market remains at a sustainable level for the overall business.
“We considered a number of different options, such as excluding cover or significantly increasing prices for new customers but we strongly believe this temporary measure of pausing the sale of new policies and focusing on our existing customers is the right decision.
“There is no change for existing customers who already have a policy with us.
“They can contact us in the normal way if they need to make a claim, and we are also still offering renewals to our existing customers so they can continue to be insured with us.”
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The insurer is set to continue to monitor the situation closely and will review its terms on an ongoing basis.
It wasn’t long before other insurance giants followed suit. A spokesperson for Aviva told Express.co.uk: “Following a review of Aviva’s travel insurance, we have decided to adjust our cover to reflect the current risks posed by Coronavirus.
“This means that while new Aviva direct travel insurance customers can still purchase our core travel insurance, they will not be able to select our ‘travel disruption’ or ‘airspace closure’ add-ons.”
Existing customers who have already purchased travel disruption and airspace closure add-ons will not be impacted.
The insurer has also paused single-trip direct travel for new customers travelling to Italy. The spokesperson continued: “These decisions do not affect Aviva’s existing travel insurance customers who have already purchased cover.
“Insurance is designed to provide cover for unforeseen and unexpected events and is priced on this basis. The outbreak of the Coronavirus means there is an increased likelihood of disruption to people’s travel plans.
“We envisage that these decisions, affecting only Aviva’s travel insurance new business, will be temporary actions.”
The Post Office, meanwhile, has put a temporary block on certain elements of its travel insurance policies.
A Post Office spokesperson explained: “The Post Office is continuing to sell Travel Insurance policies to new customers. However, with regards to our Extended Travel Disruption (ERGO Policies), or Natural Catastrophe and Terrorism, Enhanced Trip Disruption (Collinson Policies) we are now advising customers that there is no cover provided for any claims related to COVID-19 for policies purchased after 11th March 2020.”
The decision was based on the virus reaching pandemic status. The spokesperson added: “Customers can still purchase the additional cover, but if they purchase it after 11th March, they are not able to make a claim related to COVID-19.”
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