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Nationwide to cut FlexPlus travel cover for cancellations due to coronavirus restrictions

Nationwide is to reduce the level of cover its FlexPlus travel insurance offers for cancellation due to coronavirus, in a blow to holidaymakers with the popular packaged bank account. Under changes to FlexPlus cover that will apply to all trips booked from January, a new Foreign Office warning against travel will no longer be sufficient grounds for a cancellation payout.

Nationwide FlexPlus is our long-standing top-pick packaged bank account, offering travel and mobile phone insurance as well as breakdown cover. 

Coronavirus has led to a huge shake-up of the travel insurance market, and generally only travel insurance taken out pre-pandemic for holidays that were also booked pre-pandemic will cover you for cancellation if the Foreign Office warns against travel to a destination – and even then it's important to check, as not all do. Yet the FlexPlus account is an exception – it currently provides cancellation cover for new bookings, so long as the Foreign Office warning wasn't in place when you booked the holiday or took out the insurance, whichever is later.

For full help on getting the right cover and finding the best deals, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.

What are the changes to Nationwide's FlexPlus travel insurance?

Under these changes, if you book a trip or open a new FlexPlus account – whichever is later – on or after 1 January 2021, you will no longer be covered in the following scenarios:

  • If the Foreign Office brings in new advice against all travel, or all-but-essential travel, to your destination. (Currently you're covered if the Foreign Office issues a warning against travel up to 28 days before your departure, as long as you weren't aware of the advice when you booked your trip.)
  • If you or someone travelling with you can't travel because you've been told to self-isolate, but you don't actually have coronavirus.
  • If your booked accommodation goes into local lockdown.

However, you'll still be covered for the following:

  • Cancelling a trip if you or any insured person, a close relative or someone travelling with you is diagnosed with coronavirus.
  • Emergency medical expenses abroad if you or any insured person is diagnosed with coronavirus while on your trip.
  • Cutting your trip short due to a change in Foreign Office advice, as long as you weren't aware of this advice when you travelled.
  • Cutting your trip short if you're unable to stay in booked accommodation due to coronavirus, as long as you weren't aware of this when you travelled.

If you have a FlexPlus account and book a trip before 1 January 2021, your holiday will be protected by your current level of cover – ie, you'll be able to cancel if a new Foreign Office warning comes in. Full terms and conditions and policy changes can be found on the Nationwide website.

What other options are there to cover coronavirus cancellation?

When it comes to coronavirus cancellation, different insurers offer different levels of cover. We've found a number of policies that cover medical costs if you catch coronavirus while on a trip, plus a few that also cover you if you need to cancel because you or a family member gets coronavirus before travelling and can't go. For full details, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.

However, where the Nationwide FlexPlus policy stood out was its cover for cancellation due to coronavirus travel restrictions. Unfortunately we're not currently aware of any other policies that offer this kind of cover on new trips. So as things stand, you may not be able to get this kind of protection from January – though the travel insurance market is fast-evolving at the moment and that could change.

It's important to understand that planning travel right now is financially risky, and it's worth weighing up exactly what cover you have and if you could afford to lose what you're spending if the worst happened. Regardless of what insurance you have, it's particularly worth looking for flexible bookings, where you're able to cancel free of charge – or for a minimal cost – if the situation changes and you're unable to travel.

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