RYANAIR has been slammed by travel experts for selling insurance that won't cover holidaymakers if they fly with the airline right now.
Currently, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has banned all but essential travel outside of the UK.
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But if you ignore this or need to travel for whatever reason, trade body the Association for British Insurers (ABI) says this will likely invalidate your insurance.
Yet Ryanair continues to plug its insurance when you book flights on its website.
When The Sun checked the prices for a flight to Spain on July 1, we were offered a single-trip travel insurance policy from £15.99. Alternatively, its annual insurance policy sets you back £34.99.
Ryanair's own terms and conditions say it won't cover claims "arising directly or indirectly from you travelling against Foreign Office (or any government body) advice".
But when contacted by The Sun the budget carrier confusingly denied this was the case. Ryanair adds that its policies are being sold for travel over the next 12 months and that it expects the FCO guidance to be lifted in "days".
Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer site Which?, says insurers should make it clear to people buying insurance for trips before the FCO advice lifts whether they'll be covered.
He told The Sun: "Airlines and travel companies should be making it absolutely clear to people who are looking to buy travel insurance for trips taking place before the FCO has changed its travel advice that they won’t be covered if it is needed."
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Martyn James, of online complaints tool Resolver, added: "Any responsible business should not sell a product like insurance that can't be used in tandem with what you've purchased.
"So unless an airline is only selling 'essential' flight tickets, it should not be selling restricted insurance."
Insurers are of course entitled to sell policies in the expectation the FCO lifts its restrictions in future, and policies should always be taken out as soon as you book to cover any problems in the lead-up to travelling.
Unexpected illness that's not linked to coronavirus meaning you have to cancel a trip for next year is an example of why insurance could still be useful despite the travel ban.
Some policies may also provide some form of cover if you travel now. Aviva's travel insurance policy typically doesn't cover cancellations due to FCO guidance but customers who decide to travel anyway are still covered as long as they comply with the advice of local authorities at their destination.
Check the small print
But a rather large stumbling block is that most new policies, including Ryanair's, don't cover any coronavirus-related issues.
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some 'must have' features you should look out for from the Money Advice Service.
- Medical expenses - A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
- Repatriation service - The costs of getitng you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment - A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure - Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay - You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover - Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
Ryanair's police says there will be no cover for "epidemics or infectious diseases; infectious diseases caused by a virus belonging to the coronavirus family such as SARS and coronavirus CODIV-19".
It comes after major travel insurers including Admiral, Aviva, Churchill, Direct Line, More Than, Post Office and Virgin Money suspended sale of new travel insurance policies in March due to the pandemic.
Since then, some providers have started selling policies again although typically with coronavirus-related exclusions.
Mr James said: "If you feel misled and you either have a claim turned down or you think you were mis-sold the policy, you have the right to make a full complaint and go to the free financial ombudsman service if necessary."
A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) added: "As long as FCO advice is against all but essential travel it is unlikely that you will be covered for going on holiday.
"If you have to make a trip overseas and you think it is essential, it is best to speak to your insurers fist who will be able to advise you about your cover."
A Ryanair spokesperson said: "In any case, thousands of Ryanair customers are booking flights to travel over the next 12 months, whereas the government advisory is likely to be withdrawn (as it has been in most other EU countries) over the coming days."
Ryanair has grounded 99 per cent of its fleet, but passengers can currently book flights from London to the Irish cities of Cork, Dublin and Shannon as well as to Alicante, Spain.
Most of the flights listed are available from the beginning of July, although Ryanair is already offering flights to Dublin now.
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Last month, Ryanair said it'll return 40 per cent of its flights in July - but passengers face coronavirus temperature checks.
On Monday, the boss of Ryanair said the controversial 14-day quarantine could be stopped as soon as this week, as Brit families plan to jet off on summer holidays.
And last week, the airline said refunds will be paid within ten to 12 weeks.