Q. In light of the recent FCO advice against all non- essential international travel for the next 30 days (from 17/3/2020), what is the position for trips that have been booked and are due to take place during that period?

A. Any overseas trips that are already booked and would be departing within the 30-day period may be cancelled as a result of the FCO advice and cancellation cover will apply. Trips that are already booked but scheduled to take place beyond the current period would not be covered for cancellation at this stage. If the ban is subsequently extended, the above position would apply to any additional period of banned travel.
As with any cancellation you would need to obtain any available refunds from tour operators, hotels, airlines etc and then submit a claim for the shortfall to us.

Q. What is deemed to be essential travel?

A. The FCO advises as follows:
Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. You may have urgent family or business commitments to attend to. Circumstances differ from person to person. Only you can make an informed decision based on the risks.

Q. If FCO advice changes during a journey and a traveller remains overseas when the FCO advises against all/non-essential travel to that country, will the travel cover still operate?

A. Yes. If, however, the FCO advises travellers to leave the country and UMAL has agreed to offer curtailment, if the traveller elects to remain in place the travel cover would cease.

Q. If a traveller is stranded in a country due to travel restrictions imposed since their arrival, will the travel cover continue to operate?

A. Yes.

Q. If a traveller has pre-booked tickets to return to the UK at the end of their journey and the flights are cancelled due to travel restrictions imposed by the local or international authorities, will the travel cover pick up additional costs incurred either to return to the UK or to extend their stay overseas until a return is possible?

A. Yes, although any extended stay would need to be reasonable and costs incurred would need to be less than the cost of travelling home by other means (where it is possible to do so).

Q. Should we be insisting that any staff or students currently overseas return to the UK? If we do, will the costs be included within the travel cover?

A. This is a decision for the individual institution to make based on the situation in the destination country and your duty of care. Our position on curtailment is that cover is for certain specified causes only and that a viral outbreak would not normally fall within any of these. However, where the FCO has issued advice for visitors to a particular country to leave that country, as they did with China and have now with a few other countries, we will agree on a discretionary basis to cover the additional expenses incurred in returning to the UK. Please note that this only extends to additional expenses and would therefore be predicated on the traveller already having a pre-booked ticket to return. If that ticket cannot be amended for an early return we would then be able to consider the cost of a new ticket. If they do not already have a ticket however wewould not be able to assist as they would have needed to book a ticket at some point anyway and this is not therefore an additional item of expenditure.

We will also consider curtailment claims where a host university has cancelled (not postponed or suspended) teaching on a course and/or closed the student’s accommodation on the same basis.

At this stage we are not including cover for unused pre-booked accommodation etc but we will monitor the situation and may revise that position in the future.

Some useful tips to help us deal with claims and queries more effectively

  • For any cancelled travel arrangements please ensure that any available refunds have been pursued and wherever possible are claimed back before submitting your claim to UMAL for any shortfalls
  • In order to ensure that Global Response are able to respond to any urgent queries during this period, please could you only contact them if you are in urgent need of assistance
  • We are dealing with an unprecedented number of claims under our travel cover so please bear with us. We will deal with claims in order of receipt except for urgent matters which will of course receive priority
  • Travel cover for UK trips or events only applies where the journey involves an overnight stay and/or travel by air