There are a small number of Members who have been in touch who have guests wishing to cancel bookings due to the threat of Covid 19. We have therefore put together some information for you on the current situation in relation to Insurance, OTA Bookings and the current advice being provided by VisitScotland.
PLEASE BE AWARE: We all have to be careful in our presentation of the topic so that we don’t increase anxiety both among the business community and potential visitors to Scotland. If we fan the flames of fear we may well cause the cancellations ourselves. Let’s all be responsible and help to contain the virus, but not perpetuate the panic.
Here are some questions you can ask to help resolve any situation with guests wishing to cancel:
Are the guests visiting from an infected area?
In terms of Airbnb, their Extenuating Circumstances Policy kicks in for people coming from or staying in affected areas – currently China, South Korea, and 4 areas in Italy, or if travel has been cancelled as a result of the virus. Only at that point is a guest refunded. Scotland – Scotland travel (or anywhere outwith these regions) does not fall under the policy (unless the guest has made onward travel from an affected area). Again, disinclination to travel is not covered by the policy. If you believe that your guest has been refunded inappropriately, you can escalate the issue via Airbnb Customer Services.
Are your guests covered by their own travel insurance policy?
It is likely that guest’s travel insurance will not cover any cancellation for bookings made after January 2020 because CV19 was an existing risk after that point. Travel insurers still rely on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s advice to determine what is covered and what is not in terms of destination. The FCO is currently advising against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. The FCO is also advising against all but essential travel to the cities of Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea and ten small towns in the Lombardy region and one in the Veneto region of Italy. At the date of this report the FCO is not advising against travel to any other country/territory as a result of coronavirus risks. FCO travel advice remains under constant review.
Alternatively you may have a policy such as Master Cancel as offered by Supercontrol, of course existing bookings cannot be covered but future bookings are still valid. Master Cancel provides proper protection to both owner and guest.
What are the Terms of Your Own Business Insurance Policy?
It is certainly worth checking the terms of your own business insurance policy just to be clear of your cover. Depending on the insurance policy cover you have, should a property be forced to close as a result of the virus, on the advice of the public health authorities, then the business interruption cover would kick in and compensate the client for their lost business. What the policy won’t cover is clients cancelling their planned trip as a result of the virus. In other words, disinclination to travel to a destination that is not on the list is not covered by your insurance policy.
Clearly any actual claim would be reviewed by your insurance company’s claims team depending on the exact circumstances of the claim.
What are the Terms and Conditions of Your Bookings?
It is certainly worth reviewing the terms and conditions of your bookings and should you receive any incidents where guests do wish to cancel its always best to discuss this directly with the guest and work through the situation on a case by case basis. As mentioned, disinclination to travel is not covered by insurance or OTA policy so its up to you to take a view on how you wish to handle any concerns raised by your guests.
Coronavirus: How do I protect myself?
In order to understand the impact on industry, VisitScoltand is proactively tracking the effects of the Covid-19 situation on bookings. If your business has already been affected by cancellations or have reason to anticipate a significant impact on bookings, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can get up to date advice from VisitScotland: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/coronavirus
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