How will coronavirus affect my insurance, energy bills and mortgage?
How will coronavirus affect my insurance, energy bills and mortgage?
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect our personal finances, as well as our health. We’ve got answers to some of the most common questions and concerns.
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 are likely to cover claims related to COVID-19 for emergency medical and repatriation costs in line with your chosen policy. However, other types of claims related to COVID-19, such as cancellation, are unlikely to be covered.
See more on coronavirus and travel insurance.
I bought my policy before the FCO updated their advice for non-essential travel overseas. Am I covered?
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising British people against all non-essential travel overseas. This advice initially took effect on 17 March 2020 and is under constant review. Some insurance providers will cover you if the FCO was not advising against non-essential travel for your destination when you purchased your policy. Check your policy wording and contact your insurance provider if you have any doubts.
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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. In light of the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced measures to support people who may be struggling to make their payments.
This allows customers, who are struggling to make payments, to take a ‘mortgage holiday’, which allows you to stop or reduce your monthly payments for up to three months.
It’s important to know that the payments that you do not make will be added to the outstanding balance - which will mean that 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, the second cut in March and a historic low. If you have a tracker mortgage or variable rate mortgage your repayments are likely to get lower, but it won’t affect existing fixed rate mortgages, although new ones might get 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 now at home all day because of the coronavirus. What can I do to save energy?
Most people are likely be at home much of the time with children off school and the need to maintain social distancing. 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.
How are energy providers helping vulnerable customers in the coronavirus pandemic?
The Government and energy suppliers have launched an emergency package to make sure vulnerable people don’t suffer hardship because of COVID-19.
The package includes:
- options for customers who can’t top up their pre-payment cards
- support for energy customers in financial distress
- disconnection of credit meters suspended.
However, from July, Ofgem have announced that energy suppliers will be able to chase unpaid bills and outstanding customer debts. If this is likely to affect you, it’s always best to contact your supplier as soon as possible and discuss your options. Ofgem has encouraged energy suppliers to avoid “sharp practice or aggressive debt collection”, but you should act quickly and come to an agreement with your supplier.
Coronavirus and car insurance
Will I be able to take my driving test during the pandemic?
The Government recently announced that driving lessons and theory tests will restart from 4 July 2020, while practical driving tests will follow from 22 July 2020.
Can I get an MOT for my vehicle?
On 29 June 2020, the Government announced that MOTs would be reintroduced from 1 August 2020. Drivers were previously granted a six-month MOT exemption, but any vehicles due an MOT test from 1 August 2020 will require to get a test as usual.
Drivers with an MOT due date before 1 August 2020 will still receive the six-month exemption from testing. However, the Government, along with the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), has said that your vehicle must still be maintained in a roadworthy state, and you may be prosecuted if you’re found driving an unsafe vehicle.
It is important that your vehicle has a valid MOT certificate, as allowing it to expire will invalidate your insurance, and will also make driving the vehicle illegal.
If you’re worried about leaving your home, you can find services around the UK that will allow you to arrange your MOT from home, with garages and mechanics now arranging collection and drop off services for MOT customers. You may also find a mechanic who’s willing to carry out the MOT at your home.
Coronavirus and home insurance
Will working from home affect my home insurance?
The Government has instructed all businesses that can do so to encourage people to work from home.
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. If you are receiving business visitors to your home, however, you will definitely have to inform your insurance provider.
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 newly introduced Coronavirus Act 2020 means that, until 30 September 2020, landlords who give tenants notice of seeking possession won’t be able to progress until the expiry of the notice. All notices for both the private and social rented sector tenancies are currently three months.
The government has extended the three-month mortgage holiday to buy-to-let mortgages, 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.
Coronavirus and broadband
Will I be able to switch broadband during the coronavirus outbreak?
Many broadband switches will be unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak. So, 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 switching between different Openreach providers, or to Virgin Media, your switch will go ahead as normal. Engineer appointments were available again from 1 June 2020, which means you should be able to switch broadband provider without trouble. However, you may face a slight delay in getting an appointment, as many providers are faced with a backlog of scheduled appointments during lockdown.
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?
Life insurance policies taken out before the outbreak of coronavirus should cover you if you were to pass away from the disease, as long as you supplied accurate information at the time of purchase.
However, since the SARS outbreak, some insurance providers have introduced new exclusions around pandemics, which means you should check your policy carefully, if you took out a policy after that time. If you remain unsure, please contact your insurance provider.
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