How will coronavirus affect my insurance, energy bills and mortgage?

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue to affect our personal finances and many people’s health. We have answers to some of the most common questions and concerns.

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue to affect our personal finances and many people’s health. We have answers to some of the most common questions and concerns.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
5
minute read
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Posted 21 JANUARY 2021

Coronavirus and travel insurance

Does my travel insurance cover COVID-19?

Some providers have restricted cancellation and travel disruption cover in policies bought after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020.

At Compare the Market, the policies we show you will cover claims related to COVID-19 for emergency medical and repatriation costs in line with your chosen policy. Some providers offer enhanced COVID-19 cover which may also cover you if someone in your party falls ill with Coronavirus and is unable to travel. As part of this enhanced cover, some providers may reimburse your costs should you need to cancel your holiday as a direct or in-direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Following new restrictions implemented on 5 January 2021, you can only travel internationally or within the UK if you're legally permitted to do so while the UK is under full lockdown restrictions.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. See the latest FCDO advice for further information.

Any insurance policy purchased to cover a trip to a destination where the local authority, or the FCDO, has instructed citizens not to travel, will not be valid.

For more information, please see our coronavirus and travel insurance page.

Until then, stay safe.

See more on coronavirus and travel insurance.

I bought my policy before the January lockdown announcement. Am I covered to travel overseas?

If you’re legally permitted to travel, you should check your travel insurance policy terms and conditions, and contact your insurance provider to find out if your trip will be covered.

It’s essential to check FCDO advice before you travel, as it’s under constant review. You won’t be covered if you travel against FCDO advice.

Coronavirus and your mortgage

What should I do if I can’t pay my mortgage because of coronavirus?

For many people, their biggest financial outgoing is likely to be their mortgage repayments. When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced measures to support people who were struggling to make their payments.

Customers struggling to make payments have been able to take a mortgage holiday, allowing them to stop or reduce monthly payments for up to three months. The deadline for applying for a mortgage holiday has now been extended until 31 March 2021.

Under the new guidance, eligible borrowers can defer their payments for up to six months in total. So, if you’ve already had a payment holiday, you can top it up as long as the holiday doesn’t go over six months. If you’ve already had six months of payment holiday, you won’t be eligible. However, the FCA says firms will provide specific support, which might include the option to defer further payments. For more information, see the FCA’s guidance on this.

It’s important to know that the payments you don’t make will be added to the outstanding balance - which will mean your future payments will be slightly higher than they are now. An alternative may be to add an extension to your mortgage term.

In the first instance, you should talk directly to your mortgage lender, as not everyone may be granted a ‘mortgage holiday’.



With interest rates falling, is now a good time to switch mortgage?

The Bank of England base rate was cut to 0.1% on 19 March 2020, the second cut in March and a historic low. This is where it currently stands. If you have a tracker mortgage or variable rate mortgage, your repayments are likely to have dropped lower, but it won’t affect existing fixed-rate mortgages. However, new ones might become cheaper.

If you’re on a standard variable rate mortgage, you may be able to save money by switching to a new fixed rate product or consider remortgaging to another lender. You can see deals that are currently available by comparing mortgages with us, or speak to our trusted mortgage broker London & Country Mortgages.

Energy bills and coronavirus

I’m at home more because of the coronavirus. What can I do to save energy?

Most people are likely to be spending more time at home again. That means you may find yourself using more gas and electricity than usual. But there are some simple ways to save energy around your home, from boiling water in the kettle rather than a pan, to using radiator thermostats.

Check out our energy saving tips

How are energy providers helping vulnerable customers in the coronavirus pandemic?

Early on in the COVID-19 crisis the Government and energy suppliers launched an emergency package, to make sure anyone vulnerable didn’t suffer hardship with heating or lighting their homes.  
  
If you’re struggling to pay for your gas or electricity, you might be able to:

  • get support in reviewing bill payment plans, including debt repayment plans
  • take payment breaks or agree reductions in how much you pay
  • receive access to hardship funds
  • get more time to pay

On 15 December, new rules set by energy regulator Ofgem came into play to further protect the country’s most vulnerable energy customers.

Energy providers are now required to help customers in financial difficulty. This will be through offering emergency credit to customers who can’t afford to top up their prepayment meters, and what Ofgem describes as “realistic and sustainable” repayment plans for those in debt.

See more about coronavirus and paying energy bills

Coronavirus and car insurance

Will I be able to take my driving test during the pandemic?


What’s happening with driving tests may depend on where you live in the UK. The dates below might change, depending on levels of infection throughout the country and whether lockdowns and alert levels in the various nations are extended.

England: Every type of driving test is suspended in England because of the national lockdown.

Scotland: Every type of driving test is suspended in Scotland because of the temporary lockdown.

Wales: Every type of driving test is suspended in Wales as it’s in alert level 4.

See the Government guidance on driving tests in England, Scotland and Wales for more information.

Northern Ireland: Every practical driving test scheduled to take place between 28 December to 6 February 2021 inclusive, has been cancelled. (But motorbike tests are still being allowed to go ahead.) See the latest updates on NIDirect.

See more on the driving test

Can I get an MOT for my vehicle?

MOT garages have been classified as an essential business and remain open during the English lockdown, which started in January 2021. If your MOT runs out, you must arrange a test in time as usual. This also applies to anyone whose MOT expired between 30 March and 31 July 2020 and who was given a six-month extension on their certificate. You’ll need to get your MOT done before your extension expires.

You can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out and keep the same renewal date.

Don’t take your vehicle for its MOT if:

·       You’re self-isolating because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms

·       You’ve been told by the NHS Test and Trace service that you’ve been in contact with a person who has coronavirus

·       You’re in quarantine after returning from abroad

Some MOT centres will collect your vehicle and carry out an MOT, if you’re vulnerable. Contact your local MOT centres to find out if they offer this service, should you need it.

If your MOT was extended for six months and you’re still in the extension period, the Government says your vehicle must continue to be maintained in a roadworthy state. Garages remain open to carry out critical repair work. If you drive an unsafe vehicle, you can still be prosecuted.

The situation in Northern Ireland is slightly different. See detailed information on coronavirus and motoring in Northern Ireland on NIDirect.

Read our guide to the MOT.

Do I need to tell my car insurance provider if I’m working from home or returning to the office?

In March 2020, as the UK entered its first lockdown, members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) made a series of customer pledges in acknowledgement of the unprecedented and uncertain times. These pledges have since been extended to 19 March 2021.

So, if you were formerly working in an office and have switched to working from home, or are still driving to commute, you won’t need to contact your insurance provider to update them of your situation. Your level of cover will remain unchanged.

See our coronavirus and motoring FAQs for more information.

Coronavirus and home insurance

Will working from home affect my home insurance?

With most parts of the UK operating under some level of restrictions, the Government continues to encourage people to work from home where possible.

This shouldn’t affect your home insurance if you’re just doing clerical or admin work. Normally, you would need to tell your insurance provider if you were working from home regularly. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has stated that it expects insurance firms to treat customers fairly and not see their ability to claim affected by circumstances over which they have little control.

When the UK entered its first Covid-related lockdown in March 2020, members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) made a range of customer pledges which recognised the new circumstances which many of us find ourselves in. If you used to work in an office and are now working from home, you won’t need to contact your home insurance provider to update your policy details. Your home insurance will remain unaffected whether you’re working from home or not. This pledge has since been extended to 19 March 2021.

I’m a landlord. What should I do if my tenants are having problems paying rent because of coronavirus?

While tenants may face financial uncertainty, they should continue paying their rent to the best of their ability, as well as comply with any other terms within their tenancy agreement. If your tenant is unable to pay their rent, they should contact you, as their landlord, as soon as possible.

While many in the UK face financial difficulty, whether that’s being placed on furlough or even losing their job, it’s important that you lend your tenant support if possible. Many are seeing their income fluctuate and require some extra time to budget and realign their finances to accommodate their new situation.

The Government has advised landlords not to start or continue with any eviction proceedings during this difficult period “without a very good reason".

Most tenants will need to have been given six months’ notice before landlords can start eviction proceedings.

The Government says evictions in England won’t be enforced until 21 February 2021 and will be kept under review.

When evictions can be enforced again, tenants must be given 14 days’ notice of the eviction date.

The Government has also extended its mortgage holiday to buy-to-let mortgages until 31 March 2021, so you might be able to apply for this if your tenants are struggling to pay their rent.

See more on rent guarantee insurance

Coronavirus and business insurance

Is coronavirus covered by business insurance?

Business interruption insurance is typically designed to cover businesses which are forced to stop trading, because of physical damage or natural disaster. Compensation for viral outbreaks, such as coronavirus, are not likely to be covered, unless these types diseases are specifically listed in your policy.
 
Please check your policy documents carefully, and contact your insurance provider to find out if you’re covered.

See more on coronavirus and business insurance

Coronavirus and broadband

Will I be able to switch broadband during the coronavirus pandemic?

Many broadband switches will continue to be unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re looking to upgrade your broadband for home working, or to save with a better deal, switching provider should remain relatively hassle free. 

If you’re unsure about your potential switch, it’s best to contact your existing and potential broadband providers for more information.

See more on broadband switching during the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus and life insurance

Does life insurance cover COVID-19?

Many existing life insurance policies could pay out for COVID-19 if you die from the disease, provided you completed the application truthfully at the time. It’s not one of the standard exclusions most insurance providers apply, so you could be covered. 

However, since the SARS outbreak, some insurance providers have introduced new exclusions around pandemics, which means you should check your policy carefully. If you remain unsure, please contact your insurance provider.

See more on coronavirus and life insurance.

Does health insurance cover COVID-19?

Thankfully, most people with COVID-19 recover quite quickly and don’t require hospital treatment. However, if you feel like you do need treatment for coronavirus, you should get in touch with your insurance provider to find out if you can make a claim.

See more on coronavirus and health insurance

Coronavirus and pet insurance

After the UK entered lockdown in March 2020, members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) made a number of customer pledges which affected a range of insurance types, including pet insurance.

These pledges include support for pet owners who are worried about voiding their pet insurance policy if they’re unable to meet certain conditions regarding vaccinations or regular health checks. Insurance providers will continue to be flexible on these types of policy conditions and should be understanding of any struggles you may currently be facing. These pet insurance pledges will be reviewed on 19 March 2021.