UK's Admiral reinstates travel insurance for new customers, others hold back

LONDON (Reuters) - Insurer Admiral ADML.L has restarted sales of travel insurance to new customers now Britons are once more allowed to go on holiday, but rivals Aviva AV.L, Direct Line DLGD.L and LV= are yet to follow.

Major travel insurers in Britain said in mid March they would only offer cover for existing customers after several countries, including the United States, banned visitors from other countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following months of lockdown, the UK government changed its guidelines to remove quarantine for travellers returning from more than 50 countries. The changes take effect on Friday.

Admiral said on its website it would provide travel insurance for new customers, including for medical expenses and repatriation related to COVID-19. But it said the insurance would not cover cancellation due to the virus.

Admiral started selling the cover to new customers from July 7, a spokesperson said by email.

Aviva, Direct Line and Allianz-owned ALVG.DE LV= said they were not yet reinstating travel insurance for new customers.

“Direct Line will resume the sale of new travel insurance policies once we are confident that we can provide cover that meets the needs of our customers,” a spokesperson said by email.

Saga SAGA.L and Staysure said they had not stopped providing travel insurance for new customers during the lockdown, but also said their policies would not cover cancellation due to COVID-19.

Saga added in an emailed statement that providing cancellation cover was a priority and it was working on it with its partners.

Travel insurers will pay a record 275 million pounds ($346 million) in claims related to the pandemic this year, according to the Association of British Insurers.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Muvija M.; Editing by Mark Potter