Given the wide spread news about Covid-19 (coronavirus), and the fact that the UK government has been candid about the potential for it to spread more widely across the UK, you may be wondering what the outbreak means for your wallet and your travel plans.
If you need medical information, or want to know the current situation in the UK, you’ll need to go to the government’s website here. However, we have taken a look at what the current guidance could mean from a financial perspective.
Whether or not you’re able to get a refund for a cancelled holiday depends largely on two factors: whether the holiday is cancelled by you or by the company you’re booked with, and whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have issued advice against travelling to your intended destination or not.
If your holiday is cancelled by the operator, then you should be offered a refund. Things can get a little more complicated if part of your holiday is cancelled: for example, your flights may be cancelled, leaving you with a hotel booking that you can’t use. In these cases, you may be covered by your insurer – but not in all cases, and only if you have the right level of coverage.
In cases where the FCO are advising against travel to a specific area, most insurers will allow you to claim the money back, assuming that your insurance policy was already in place before the travel advice was issued. However if you decide against travelling when the FCO have not issued a warning then you’re far less likely to get any money back. It’s still worth checking though, as some providers are more generous than others.
We recommend getting on the phone and speaking to your insurer to clarify the level of cover that you have and what protections it offers.
Another common question is how your finances would be affected if you were asked to self-isolate. So far, the government have indicated that anyone asked to self-isolate by NHS 111 should be entitled to statutory sick pay, and they have also said that they encourage employers to pay sick pay for this period as outlined in your contract. This is something which you should ask your employer.
Statutory sick pay is currently paid out at a rate of £94.25 per week, so this could represent a substantial loss of income for many people. We recommend finding out what you’re entitled to from your employer sooner rather than later, so that you can plan an emergency budget. Better to have it and not need it than visa vera! The government have also said that people self-isolating should be entitled to statutory pay from day one, rather than from day four as it would usually be.
Keep in mind that all of this only applies if you are asked to self-isolate by medical professionals. If your employer sends you home for another reason – for instance because they’ve decided to close the building, or because they are worried about your recent travel history – then you should be entitled to full pay. Finally, if you need to take time off because your child’s school is closed then you won’t automatically be entitled to pay. Speak to your employer about whether it’s possible to work from home or take annual/compassionate leave.