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Covid-19: Does your Swiss insurance cover cancelled travel?

Despite entry restrictions that are in place in various countries, many residents of Switzerland still travel internationally. But getting refunds for cancelled or rescheduled trips is becoming increasingly complicated.

Covid-19: Does your Swiss insurance cover cancelled travel?
Travel insurance may not cover costs of cancellation. Photo by AFP

People in Switzerland have long relied on their travel insurance when plans go awry. But costs associated with the pandemic have pushed insurance companies to implement stricter refund criteria.

Under normal circumstances, travel policies refund money for trips that are cancelled or curtailed because of illness or other justifiable reasons.

However, due to unprecedented number of trip cancellations and requests for reimbursement of travel expenses during the coronavirus outbreak, many insurers are now excluding epidemics and pandemics from their coverage.

As SRF public broadcaster reported on Wednesday, many policies now contain “explicit exclusions in connection with epidemics and pandemics, and the resulting quarantines”.

This clause is now included in many policies because insurance carriers have lost a lot of money when refund claims started to come in during the first wave of coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020.

SRF cites the example of Switzerland’s Mobiliar insurance, which paid around 40 million francs in cancellation costs in the first half of 2020 — 25 million more than in all of 2019.

READ MORE: Covid-19: What you need to know if you are travelling abroad from Switzerland 

What should you pay attention to when you take out a travel insurance policy?

First of all, carefully read the latest version of the carrier’s General Insurance Conditions.

“Customers should take a close look at which coronavirus-related risks are insured and which are not”, said Frédéric Papp, travel insurance expert at Comparis consumer portal.

In other words, make sure you are covered for risks associated with epidemics and pandemics, and there are no specific exclusions for Covid-19.

In some cases, the excluded risks can be insured separately as an ‘add-on’, though this supplement could be quite expensive.

For instance, if you fly with SWISS or its codeshare partners Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, you can add a “Covid-19 package” to your ticket.

This complementary insurance includes trip interruption or cancellation in case you contract the virus, and compensation if you have to go into mandatory quarantine at your destination because of coronavirus infection. The price of this insurance depends on the kind of package you choose.

Papp noted that the best option is booking a trip through a travel agency “that has generous cancellation conditions”.

“Package tours usually offer more flexibility if a trip cannot take place or has to be interrupted due to coronavirus”, he said.

READ MORE: TRAVEL: Switzerland suspends flights with UK over new Covid strain 

 

 

 

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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