At long last we can finally look forward to booking a well-deserved holiday abroad, thanks to the newly introduced traffic light system.
While this is great news for anyone desperate for a holiday (and not to mention for the travel industry), it is worth remembering that despite some countries being classified as “green”, all travellers are still required to take a PCR test on their return to the UK.
This means that having the right travel insurance is more important than ever before – because one negative test result could change your whole holiday experience.
Below we answer all of your burning Covid-19 related questions and explain exactly what cover we recommend looking out for to best protect you and your trip.
Do I need travel insurance if the destination I am travelling to is on the “green” list?
Absolutely. Aside from the coronavirus there are many reasons why it is important to make sure you have travel insurance in place. For example, you still need protection should you need to cancel your trip, should your luggage get lost, or should you require emergency medical treatment abroad which is not related to coronavirus.
Additionally, even if you travel to a country on the “green” list, you will still be required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test on your return and in order to enter the UK. If you fail this test, you will be required to isolate at your holiday destination – and that’s where travel insurance comes in.
Some travel insurance providers are offering protection for additional accommodation and transportation costs in the event that holidaymakers fail their pre-departure test and have to isolate abroad. However, it’s worth knowing that this type of cover is not offered as standard across the industry and so you will need to double-check if this cover is included in your policy.
Will my insurer cover me if I miss my flight due to delays at the airport?
There has been a lot of speculation that mass queues may form at airports due to all the necessary evidence now required from passengers in order to leave the UK and enter most destinations.
Some travel insurance policies do offer protection against missed departure due to reasons that cannot be foreseen or avoided. This cover should provide cover for alternative transportation in order to help holidaymakers reach their trip destination if something unexpected caused them to miss their flight – as long as the airline does not offer alternative transport.
However, ‘unforeseen’ and ‘unavoidable’ circumstances will be at the insurers discretion and travellers could be asked to provide evidence that they took all reasonable steps to make sure they arrived at the airport on time – and that the delays were unavoidable.
It’s also worth knowing that if the delay is caused by a known event, for example, if is publicised nationally and/or broadcasted on popular news outlets that mass queues are forming at airports, then it is likely that your travel insurance may not pay your claim.
Can I cancel my trip if I am unable to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test or any other required documentation?
In most cases, holidaymakers will not be able to claim on their travel insurance in the event that they are refused entry to a country due to being unable to provide the required documentation. For example, if they do not arrive with proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before their departure.
We would strongly recommend that travellers check the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) website to check the entry requirements for the destination they are travelling to well in advance of their trip to ensure they are fully aware of and can prepare for the documentation required to enter.
Can I cancel my holiday if I catch Covid-19 before my holiday?
Possibly! Some travel insurers now offer trip cover for cancellation if anyone named on the policy catches Covid-19 and has to isolate before their holiday.
However, not all travel insurers cover this as standard. So, if you do want this type of cover, please check the policy wording. It may be worded something like “cover if anyone named on the policy contracts Covid-19 within 14 days of their trip starting”.
Will I be covered for medical costs if I catch Covid-19 while on holiday?
Most travel insurance providers now cover medical expenses related to the coronavirus as standard, as long as you did not travel against government advice.
Again, if you want to make sure your policy includes this, it may be worded something like “cover for medical expenses if anyone named on the policy contracts Covid-19 while on holiday”.
Can I get cover for trip cancellation if the government changes their advice to the destination I am travelling to?
Currently, no travel insurers offer cover to cancel your holiday as a result of a change in government advice. This is because holidaymakers typically have financial protection elsewhere.
What we mean by this is that should the government advise against travel to your holiday destination, and your holiday get cancelled, it is usually the responsibility of your tour operator to offer you the chance to change your travel dates or provide you with a refund.
If you have booked your holiday independently (for example, separate flights and accommodation) and the government changes its advice, then you can ask your airline and/or accommodation provider for a refund. If they refuse, you can then request your money back through your bank or credit card company.
Therefore, charging holidaymakers for this type of cover would not be fair as you can get your money back, for free, elsewhere.
Is there any other travel insurance cover that covers additional COVID-19 risks?
In all honesty, travel insurance protection varies from provider to provider. So, we strongly recommend shopping around for your travel insurance and reading each providers’ policy wordings.
We are aware that a handful of travel insurance providers are launching cancellation cover if holidaymakers come into contact with someone who has Covid-19 before their trip and therefore has to isolate. This is significant because before this cover was available, most insurers would only allow a trip to be cancelled due to Covid-19 if someone named on the policy caught the virus themselves.
In addition, lots of UK holidaymakers have been taking advantage of low deposit holiday offers, which has resulted in some insurers including protection for trip cancellation if the traveller has only paid their holiday deposit. This means that as long as they haven’t yet paid their holiday balance in full, travellers can cancel their trip without having to pay any policy excess. Most of the insurers that offer this cover will also allow those who have paid off their full balance to cancel, but they will have to pay their policy excess.