Coronavirus: what does it mean for your money?

by Brean Horne from Moneywise |

Find out how coronavirus could impact your pensions, travel plans, investments and more

The coronavirus pandemic has sent shockwaves through the global economy, affecting the finances of people around the world. 

From investments and pensions to savings and travel, we round up how coronavirus could impact your money. 

What does coronavirus mean for investments?

Stock markets around the world have tumbled to their lowest levels since the 2008 global financial crisis. Uncertainty over the spread of the disease could continue to impact markets across the world.  

While it is tempting to sell when markets are falling, this can worsen losses. Any losses should be recouped over time, so it generally pays to sit tight and not sell immediately.

What does coronavirus mean for savings?

The Bank of England (BoE) has cut base rate twice so far this month, as part of emergency measures to protect the UK economy against impact from coronavirus. 

Base rate is factored into the interest paid by many financial deals.

On March 11 the BoE cut the base rate from 0.75% to 0.25%. This was followed by a second cut on March 19 to 0.1%, the lowest ever. 

The recent interest rate cuts are bad news for savers, who will see rates start to drop and financial firms withdrawing their best deals.

What does coronavirus mean for mortgages?

Cuts to the base rate usually bring down the cost of homeloans. 

When the BoE made its first cut this month, mortgage providers were quick to pass on the reduction to customers with a tracker or standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage. However, most homeowners choose fixed-rate deals and will not see any changes until they take out a new loan or remortgage.

What does coronavirus mean for pensions?

Most workers in the UK have a private or workplace pension scheme which holds investments in the stock market. As a result, the stock market slump has caused the value of pensions to tumble over recent weeks.

However, selling when markets are down generally does not pay off in the long term. Savers with a long time until they need to cash out the pension should have time to make up losses. Also, if you are contributing to a pension every month you will now be benefiting from lower prices. 

Savers who are close to retiring may want to consider if they really need the money now or if they can delay making any withdrawals.

What does coronavirus mean for travel?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against travel to Hubei Province in China and the city of Daegu in South Korea.

It is also advising against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China, Cheongdo in South Korea and 11 or the worst-affected towns in Italy.

If you have plans to travel to any of the FCO’s listed countries, you may be entitled to a refund from your airline or holiday provider.

For more travel information and advice, read our article coronavirus: what are your travel rights?

What does coronavirus mean for travel insurance?

Most travel insurance providers have now limited the amount of cover they offer for coronavirus disruption and illness.

Some companies, such as LV=, Aviva and Admiral, have stopped selling travel insurance altogether. Others, such as InsureandGo, no longer offer cover for any cancellation claim related to coronavirus. 

Insurers have warnings on their websites to let you know if you are covered for coronavirus-related claims. If you are unsure, contact their customer service team before buying a policy. 

If you bought travel insurance before insurers started watering down their deals, your policy should cover the cost of your trip to an FCO-listed country being cancelled or you being quarantined. 

This could include anything from flights and accommodation to pre-booked events and activities. Travel insurance will not pay out if you cancel travel to a country that is not listed by the FCO for fear of getting coronavirus.

What does coronavirus mean for income protection insurance?

Income protection is a type of cover that pays out if you are cannot work due to injury or illness.

If you are unable to work due to coronavirus, your policy is likely to pay so long as you developed the illness after it started.

New income protection policies are likely to cover time off due to coronavirus if you did not have the virus at the time of applying.

Some providers, however, have changed the questions set to ask new customers if they have lived or travelled to a list of affected countries in the last 30 days, according to new findings from comparison website ActiveQuote.

What does coronavirus mean for work?

The UK government is urging people to avoid all non-essential contact. 

This includes closing schools and working from home where possible too. 

If you have to take time out of work to self-isolate due to coronavirus you will be entitled to sick pay. 

If you are on a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay. To qualify, you will need to have earned more £118 per week before tax over a period of eight weeks. 

Self-employed workers are not currently entitled to statutory sick pay. 

For more advice and information about your entitlements read out round up coronavirus: what are your rights at work?

This article was first published on 4/3/2020 but has been updated to reflect new developments. 

This article was originally published in our sister magazine Moneywise. Click here to subscribe.

These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.

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