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Do I still need Covid travel insurance cover when booking a holiday?


It has been two years since the the UK was first put under Covid travel restrictions, as cases rose at an alarming rate starting in March 2020. 

The year that followed was a torrid one for the travel industry, with holidays abroad dropping around 75 per cent.

But with most restrictions now having ended for those living in the UK, many are looking forward to taking their first trip away in some time. 

But unfortunately, Covid continues to disrupt holiday plans and sometimes even cancel them altogether. 

Travel experts are advising holidaymakers to read the fine print when it comes to your Covid protection to ensure you don’t get caught out by positive tests or isolations abroad

Though self-isolating is no longer a legal requirement for those with Covid in the UK, it is still recommended by the NHS. 

What’s more, some countries around the world still require a negative Covid test on entry. 

With cases now on the rise in some places, there is also the risk that holidaymakers could catch Covid while abroad and need treatment, or to be taken home. 

 

For these reasons, it is still important that holidaymakers get travel insurance that covers them for Covid-related cancellations or disruption. 

What should travel insurance cover? 

According to Which?, those booking a holiday at the moment should look out for three key things in their travel insurance policy, if they want to be covered for all possible Covid-related scenarios: 

  • Coronavirus medical and repatriation cover: To cover them if they are infected when they are abroad
  • Coronavirus cancellation cover: So they can claim a refund if Covid stops them travelling for any reason
  • Scheduled airline failure insurance: To cover them if their airline goes bust. This has become more common as operators struggled during the pandemic   

Looking at travel policies more generally, it recommends that holidaymakers have the following levels of cover for the typical trip: 

  • Emergency medical cover – £5million worldwide 
  • Cancellation, curtailment and missed departure – £2,000 or the total value of the holiday 
  • Personal belongings and money – £1,500 
  • Personal liability – £1million 
99 per cent of travel insurance providers currently offer cover for Covid medical expenses as standard, with 93 per cent covering cancellations due to a positive Covid test

99 per cent of travel insurance providers currently offer cover for Covid medical expenses as standard, with 93 per cent covering cancellations due to a positive Covid test

According to Matt Sanders of comparison site Go Compare, 99 per cent of travel insurance providers offer cover Covid medical expenses as standard, with 93 per cent covering cancellations due to a positive Covid test as standard.

 However, different providers will have different small print, and different limits when it comes to how much travellers can claim.

‘Each travel insurer will have different levels of Covid cover, so it’s important to check the medical, cancellation and Covid cover parts of your policy to make sure you have the right cover in place,’ says Sanders. 

‘It’s important to check whether your policy allows you to cancel due to Covid-19 illness or isolation; covers your medical expenses and flight home if you are ill; extend your stay if necessary; or covers you for airline or tour operator failure. 

Does vaccination status affect travel insurance?  

It is also worth checking what coverage you have depending on your vaccination status.

Go Compare has found that, out of the 826 annual travel insurance policies currently available, 16 per cent have a vaccination exclusion – meaning that those who aren’t vaccinated will be excluded from certain parts of the Covid cover.

Around 12 per cent of insurance policies exclude both medical and cancellation cover for those who have not had a vaccine, while 3 per cent exclude them from medical cover only and 1 per cent exclude them from cancellation cover only.   

It is also essential that travellers consult the latest Foreign Office travel guidelines to find out whether it is safe to travel to their destination. 

Says Sanders: ‘If you decide to travel against their advice, it’s very likely that you won’t be covered by your travel insurance at all.’

Do I need specific protection for Covid lockdowns? 

While we would like to hope that lockdowns are a thing of the past, travel experts suggest that holidaymakers protect themselves against the worst-case-scenario.

So they do advise getting cover for a situation where a lockdown, either in the UK or abroad, stops them from travelling.  

If lockdown restrictions in the UK don’t allow travel, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says that customers should get a full refund from the company they booked with. 

Most countries now only require proof of full vaccination, instead of a PCR test

Most countries now only require proof of full vaccination, instead of a PCR test

This is in the case of a package holiday, however, and those booking their own flights and hotels will need to check the refund policies of the companies concerned.  

Those whose travel plans are thwarted by a lockdown is in the country they are travelling to will need to claim on their travel insurance – and whether a refund will be issued depends on the policy’s fine print. 

Sanders says: ‘If your travel insurance policy includes cancellation cover, and you booked your trip before a lockdown was announced or the Foreign Office issued its travel advice, then you should be covered.

‘However, travel insurance won’t cover you for cancellation if you booked your trip after the Foreign Office advised against travelling, or if you cancel it yourself because you decide you don’t want to go.’

Customers should ensure their travel insurance covers the full cost of their trip, as some have limits on how much they are willing to pay back if it is cancelled. 

Many Britons are looking forward to heading off on holiday - but even though the legal requirement to self-isolate has been scrapped, a positive Covid test could still scupper plans

Many Britons are looking forward to heading off on holiday – but even though the legal requirement to self-isolate has been scrapped, a positive Covid test could still scupper plans

Will my insurance cover me if I test positive for Covid before travelling, now I don’t legally have to isolate?

Fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to take Covid tests before departing from, or after arriving in, the UK. 

But even with this rule relaxation, a positive Covid test could still wreck their holiday plans. 

Many of those who test positive will still decide to self-isolate, and even if they decided to attend their holiday anyway, they could be denied entry. 

When booking travel insurance, customer should look out for ‘coronavirus cancellation cover’ to see what scenarios they are covered for. 

Most should cover cancellation as standard if someone tests positive, but they may need to opt in to an additional charge to ensure they are completely protected.

If someone tests positive while on holiday, they need to follow the advice of the local authorities when it comes to leaving the country. 

Travel insurance may cover extending their stay until they have a negative test result, but again this is something to look out for in the policy fine print.   

Will events in Ukraine affect the insurance I need?

With the unfortunate events occurring in Ukraine, it is conceivable that those heading to Eastern Europe or destinations close to it could find their plans disrupted. 

Travellers should ensure they you are covered against unpredictable circumstances where possible, including flights being cancelled or holidays needing to be abandoned. 

Sanders said: ‘The invasion of Ukraine could have an effect on travel. 

‘It is an unpredictable situation and could impact anything from flights being grounded if your destination is close to conflict areas, as well as the possibility of any civil unrest that could possibly spill over into acts of terrorism in other countries. 

‘Pay close attention to your travel insurance policy wording to assess the level of cancellation cover you have and also again, check the Foreign Office advice before you travel.’

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