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Coronavirus, insurance and your money

Amy Smith
Updated 26 March 2020 | 6 mins read

Coronavirus has had a big impact, and not just on our health and wellbeing. We understand how confusing a lot of insurance products and decisions about money have become.

We expect there to be more changes to these products as the situation develops, so we’ll be regularly updating this guide.

We’ve gathered the latest information and guidance to help you make the best decisions you can about your money during this time, but it’s not advice or a personal recommendation.

Travel insurance

Can I still travel?

It’s best not to.

As of 17 March 2020, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel worldwide for 30 days.

If you choose to travel abroad against this advice, any travel insurance you have will not cover you.

If you’re a UK citizen already abroad, the FCO is advising you return home as soon as possible – contact your airline or travel company to see what they can do for you. The FCO has more guidance on how to get home from abroad if you’re struggling.

Will travel insurance cover cancellation due to Coronavirus?

In most cases no, but it depends on when you bought your travel insurance and what the FCO advice is at the time you cancel.

The current FCO advice is in place up until and including 15 April. If you have a trip planned before this date, you might be able to claim for cancellation. But your policy would need to include travel disruption cover. Most insurers don’t offer this as standard, but it may have been offered as an optional extra when you took out your policy.

For any trips planned after this date, you won’t be able to claim for cancellation because you’re concerned about the risk of travelling. This is considered ‘disinclination to travel’, and is not seen by insurers as a valid reason to cancel. If you’ve been medically advised not to travel or need to cancel for other reasons covered by your policy, then you can make a claim.

It’s possible the FCO will extend their advice, in which case you might be able to claim for cancellation – assuming you have travel disruption cover.

Will travel insurance cover cancellation if I have to self-isolate or get Coronavirus?

Most will if you can prove that you need to self-isolate, so ask your insurer what kind of proof they need. You can get an isolation note from the NHS.

You can find more information about how Coronavirus could affect your travel insurance in our guide.

Will travel insurance cover my medical costs if I get Coronavirus when I’m abroad?

As long as you haven’t travelled against FCO advice, then yes, you should be covered for any medical costs.

Car insurance

Should I update the usage or mileage on my existing car insurance policy?

No. If your driving habits have changed because of Coronavirus, you don’t need to update your policy or tell your insurer.

Do I need to adjust my car insurance at renewal or when shopping around for a new policy?

No. If your driving habits have changed due to Coronavirus just insure your car using the details you normally would.

There’s no telling how long we’ll be in this situation and by taking out car insurance as you usually do you’ll be prepared for when things get back on track.

I want to volunteer for the NHS, am I covered by my car insurance?

Yes, absolutely. Any claim you need to make will not be rejected because you’re using your car differently – running groceries or prescriptions, for example. The Financial Conduct Authority have made it clear to insurers that they expect them to be fair to customers during the Coronavirus outbreak.

If I have to self-isolate, can I put my car insurance on hold?

You can’t really pause car insurance, but you can cancel it (cancellation fees will probably apply) and make a Statuary Off-Road Notification (SORN).

There’s no telling how long we’ll be in this situation and by taking out car insurance as you usually do you’ll be prepared for when things get back on track.

If you do apply for a SORN, you won’t be able to drive your car as it must be parked up off the road. When you want to start using your car again, you’ll need to get it insured and taxed first.

Keep in mind that if you cancel your insurance, you won’t have any cover if your car is stolen, vandalised or gets damaged by fire.

I’m isolating, can anyone else drive my car to pick up essentials for me?

Unfortunately, not. Only you and your named drivers who you have added to your policy can drive your car.

The only exception is if whoever you ask to drive your car has cover to drive other cars included on their car insurance. If they do, it’ll be outlined in their policy documents. And most likely only third party only cover.

You could add a family member or friends as a named driver on your insurance, but it could increase your premiums, and you’ll almost certainly have to pay an admin fee to do it.

Short-term car insurance will probably be the cheaper alternative, particularly if you only need someone to drive your car for a couple of weeks.

Can I still make a claim on my car insurance?

Yes. Your car insurance policy is still functioning as normal, but it might take a bit longer to order replacement parts or get through to the call centre.

Are garages still open? Can I get my car its MOT?

Yes, garages are still open for now.

Car, motorbike and van owners have been granted a six-month MOT extension, from 30 March 2020.

You must keep your car in a roadworthy condition, as you can still be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.

Check your MOT status

Home insurance

I’ve started working from home, do I need to tell my insurer?

No, you don’t need to tell your insurer if you’ve started working from home. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have made it clear that insurance providers need to be fair to customers during the Coronavirus outbreak. That means working from home will not have any impact on your insurance, or if you need to make a claim.

This just applies to people who are doing desk work, though. If you’re having visitors to your house to do your job, it’s best to get in touch with your insurer and let them know.

What about contents insurance and any office equipment I’ve been sent home with?

If your employer has sent you home with any office equipment, it’s their responsibility to insure it, not yours. If anything happens to this equipment, for example something gets stolen or damaged, you do not need to claim on your home insurance for it.

I’m self-isolating, or stuck abroad, and my home is left unoccupied. Will this have an impact on my insurance?

Most home insurance policies have a limit on how many days your home can be unoccupied for. It’s usually 30 or 60 consecutive days. If this happens to you, let your insurer know. They’ll do their best to look after you in this situation. But each case will have to be handled individually.

What if I’m renewing, or getting a new home insurance policy?

If you’re getting a new quote for your home insurance, or renewing your policy, answer the questions just as you would under normal circumstances, so that when the situation changes you have the cover you need. For example, if your home is usually empty during the day because you or your family are at work/school, then say so when you’re getting quotes.

If you run a business from home, you’ll need to state this when you’re getting quotes.

Business insurance

Will business insurance cover me if I have to close because of Coronavirus?

It’s not likely. Most standard business insurance policies won’t include cover for closure, or any other sort of impact, due to an infectious disease – check with your insurer to see exactly what you’re covered for.

If you’re an existing Simply Business customer, you can use their policy checker tool to check what you are or aren’t covered for.

What is business interruption insurance? Can it help with business losses due to Coronavirus?

Business interruption cover is usually offered as an add-on to your business insurance. It’s designed to step in if there’s an unforeseen event which means your business isn’t able to operate as normal.

Most business interruption polices have a list of dangers that they’ll cover. But notifiable diseases aren’t usually considered a peril, so they’re unlikely to cover Coronavirus.

If my business interruption policy covers infectious diseases, does that include Coronavirus?

If you do have cover for infectious diseases, there’ll usually be a list specifying which ones are covered – Coronavirus is a new risk and it won’t be listed, so it won’t be covered.

However, some infectious disease clauses are more general and so could include Coronavirus. Get in touch with your insurer or broker for personalised advice.

Can I take out a new business interruption insurance policy?

You can, but a lot of insurers have removed this cover from their policies recently. For those that still offer it, it’s very unlikely that they’ll cover you for Coronavirus-related claims.

Landlord insurance

How does Coronavirus affect my landlord insurance?

The government is offering all social and private tenants a three-month payment holiday if they’re struggling to pay rent. Anyone struggling with their mortgage, including buy-to-let landlords, can also apply to their lender for a payment holiday to ease some of the pressure.

At the end of this payment holiday you’ll need to agree a repayment plan with your lender, if you’ve taken a break from payments. And your tenants will too.

I’ve got rent guarantee insurance, can I use it?

As well as the payment holidays, the government has also announced a ban on evictions over the next three months. Because you usually need to have regained possession of your property before you can make a claim on your policy for rental arrears, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to claim. The good news is, between the government grants to cover up to 80% of employed tenants’ wages and the payment holidays, hopefully you’ll be able to get by without it.

For new policies, a lot of insurers are no longer offering cover for rental arrears, due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

What if I need to complete a gas safety inspection or make repairs to a tenant’s property?

As long as your tenants are well you can carry out routine inspections and repairs as normal, while practising social distancing.

However, if your tenants are self-isolating you need to re-arrange any non-urgent checks or repair work for when the self-isolation is complete.

Make sure you ask the tenant to explain, in writing, that they are self-isolating or have refused access due to Coronavirus concerns, and inform your local housing authority.

For urgent repairs or other legally required visits – like a gas safety inspection – you can carry them out with the permission of the tenant if you and any contractors are not symptomatic and practice social distancing.

Wedding insurance

Can I still get wedding insurance?

Most wedding insurers are not offering new policies. Others are putting clauses in saying they’ll only cover weddings due to take place a while from now, for example those that are over 150 days away.

Even if you could get cover, it’s unlikely to cover you for problems relating to Coronavirus.

Can I claim if I have to cancel my wedding due to Coronavirus?

You should also be able to claim if you’ve had to cancel due to illness, injury or death, as long as it wasn’t due to a pre-existing medical condition or reckless behaviour.

Some insurers won’t cover any cancellation claims as a result of any notifiable diseases – which Coronavirus is now classed as.

You won’t be covered if you’re self-isolating or can’t travel due to restrictions though.

If the venue cancels, or a supplier fails to deliver, you should be covered as well because it’s outside of your control.

My wedding abroad was cancelled – can wedding guests get a refund?

The FCO have advised against all but essential travel up until and including 15 April. If your wedding was due to take place before this date, your wedding guests should be covered for cancellation if they have their own travel insurance policies (although this would depend on the terms and conditions of each policy).

Guests that don’t have travel insurance can get in touch with their travel agent or tour operator for advice.

For overseas weddings from 16 April onwards, your guests are unlikely to get a refund, unless the FCO’s travel ban is extended and they have travel insurance with disruption cover.

Accident, sickness and unemployment (ASU) cover

Will income protection or ASU cover pay out if I can’t work due to Coronavirus?

Yes, these policies are designed to replace a portion or your earnings if you can’t work due to illness or injury or are made redundant, within the terms and conditions of your policy. The pay outs usually last until either you can return to work or the policy runs out – whichever comes first.

There’s usually a minimum amount of time you’d have to be off sick for to get a pay out though – that can be as short as four weeks or as long as 12 months, so it’s unlikely to cover a period of self-isolation or confirmed Coronavirus.

There’s often a waiting period before pay outs start too. That means you won’t get your pay out for anywhere between 30 days and 12 months after you’ve made a claim, depending on what you chose when you took the policy out.

Will income protection or ASU insurance pay out if I self-isolate?

No, not unless you’ve been advised to by a medical professional. Self-isolation that hasn’t been medically recommended won’t be covered, unless your symptoms are extreme and last longer than the minimum sickness period outlined in your policy.

Can I still get income protection or ASU cover during the Coronavirus outbreak?

A lot of insurers have stopped offering unemployment cover, but you can still get insurance that covers accident and sickness. As long as you’re signed off work by a medical professional, and for a period longer than the minimum term in your policy, you should be covered for injury or illness.

If you were hoping for cover for sickness due to Coronavirus it’s unlikely you’d be able to claim. Most people recover in a matter of days, and your policy is unlikely to cover such short periods of illness. If you can claim, any pay out will be paid in line with your waiting period.

Energy

How can I top up my prepaid energy meter if I’m self-isolating?

Get in touch with your energy supplier to let them know if you’re ill with Coronavirus or self-isolating as a precaution and you don’t have anyone to help you.

You may be able to nominate someone else to top up for you, have emergency funds added to your meter or receive a preloaded gas or electricity card in the post. You credit meter will not be disconnected during the outbreak.

Smart meter users should be able to top up by phone, mobile app or online.

For more information, take a look at the Citizens Advice website.

Could Coronavirus impact me if I’m on a standard meter?

The government has said that no energy supplies will be cut off, and that all energy suppliers must provide support if you’re struggling financially, by offering payment breaks, for example.

Exactly what support is available depends on the supplier, so get in touch with yours if you need help.

What if there’s a power cut, or I have an urgent problem with my supply?

Contact your supplier straight away. Tell them what the problem is and let them know if you’re not well or self-isolating.

If a supplier needs to access your home, you’ll also need to declare if you’re ill or self-isolating. If it’s safe for the visit to go ahead, it can do so in line with social distancing guidelines.

Can I still switch energy suppliers?

You can, but if you need your meter switching, from prepayment or Economy 10 to a standard meter, for example, there might be a delay in getting this done if you’re self-isolating. The same goes for the installation of smart meters.

Mortgages

What help is available if I’m struggling with my mortgage?

On 17 March 2020, banks agreed to offer borrowers a three-month repayment holiday, which would give you a bit of a break. However, this is only a voluntary agreement, so they don’t have to offer this.

You’d have to make up the three-months of missed payments throughout the rest of your mortgage term, so your monthly repayments would increase after your repayment holiday ended.

If you’ve built up any over-payments, you might be able to take a holiday on your mortgage repayments without your payments increasing. If that’s the case, speak to your lender about what they can do.

Some lenders are going one step further and are offering extensions to mortgage terms.

Get in touch with your mortgage lender to see how they can help you.

Can I get a repayment holiday if I’m in arrears with my mortgage?

You can, but it’s not compulsory for lenders to offer you this.

Can I still get a mortgage?

Yes, although some lenders aren’t offering certain types anymore, like tracker mortgages, so there might be a wider range of fixed-rate deals available.

Critical illness cover

Is Coronavirus covered by critical illness cover?

No. Insurers have a list of conditions that they’ll cover and consider critical. Coronavirus isn’t one of them. But, if you were to contract a secondary illness – pneumonia, for example – you might be covered. It depends on whether the secondary illness is considered a critical illness in your policy.

Get in touch with your insurer. There are minimum standards for critical illness cover set by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), and your insurer might be able to help you. It’ll be on a case-by-case basis though.

What about life insurance?

Thankfully, most people make a full recovery from Coronavirus, but some people are dying. If you have a life insurance aspect to your cover, then most policies will pay out if this were to happen.

I want to take out a new policy, is there anything I need to know?

Quite a few insurers are asking new questions about any pre-existing symptoms or confirmed diagnosis of Coronavirus – that applies to critical illness cover and life insurance. You might be asked if you have symptoms, are currently self-isolating or have tested positive.

You probably won’t be offered a policy until you’ve fully recovered from Coronavirus, or any symptoms that are similar to Coronavirus. Your offer will be deferred – most likely for three months.

The same goes if you plan to travel abroad against the latest FCO advice, or if you’ve recently returned from a high-risk country.

All of these cases will be underwritten on a case-by-case basis. So, if an insurer chooses to defer your cover, how long that’s for will depend on your individual circumstances.

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