Travel insurance: are you covered for Covid-19?

Most travel insurance offers limited protection for holidaymakers, so if you’re planning a holiday, make sure your policy covers everything you need..

Vaccine passports. Coronavirus tests before departure and return. Sudden reclassification of a country’s risk status while you are abroad. The threat of an expensive stay in a government-run quarantine hotel on return. International travel in the pandemic era will make any traveller nostalgic for the time when all they had to worry about were long queues, rip-off charges and lost luggage.  

So if you’re planning a holiday, make sure you check how these risks will affect your travel insurance. Insurers have updated their terms since the first lockdowns in spring 2020 and most now offer some form of “coronavirus cover”, but the exact details vary widely. 

On the plus side, virtually every policy covers emergency medical costs and repatriation if you fall ill while abroad, says Harriet Sime in the Daily Mail. The usual advice when choosing travel insurance policies is to get “£2m of medical cover for Europe, or £5m beyond”. 

What’s more, the majority of policies will cover circumstances such as your trip being cancelled because you have contracted the virus prior to travel. However, if you get a call from NHS Test and Trace telling you to isolate, you may be out of luck: only 18 out of 60 policies looked at by Times Money Mentor cover emergency repatriation in this case, says David Byers.  

The traveller bears the brunt

Beyond that, the risks of travelling during the pandemic are increasingly being borne by the consumer. First, note that the majority of policies are currently only valid for a handful of destinations, says Ben Smithson on The Points Guy. The government advises against “all but essential travel” to amber and red list countries, giving insurers legal cover to void guarantees. Some specialist firms (who typically cover workers in war zones and after natural disasters) offer coverage for amber list destinations, but this is not the norm. 

In the past, you could usually claim if the government changed its travel advice before or during your trip. This is now exceedingly rare. If your green holiday destination turns amber you will be out of luck. Meanwhile, no policies that the Daily Mail examined would cover the cost of unexpectedly having to quarantine in a hotel on return. Travellers returning from countries that suddenly go on the red list will have to pay £1,750 per person out of their own pockets.

Other ways to reduce risks

With travel insurance offering a partial solution at best, look for other ways to reduce the risks, says Miles Brignall in The Guardian. Package holidays have greater protection under the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Atol) scheme. A change in travel rules would force the tour operator to cancel. Customers are then technically entitled to a refund within 14 days.  

Try to book flexibly, says Jaymelouise Hudspith in The Daily Post. More airlines are now offering free date changes, while hotels and rental accommodation providers are increasingly allowing cancellation at short notice, sometimes as little as 24 hours.  

Indeed, “wait until the very last minute if you can” before booking, says Lucy Perrin in Times Expert Traveller. “There are going to be some amazing deals … and the longer you leave it, the more of an idea you’ll have on the places you can actually travel.”

Recommended

Early repayment charges: should you abandon your fixed-rate mortgage for a new deal now?
Mortgages

Early repayment charges: should you abandon your fixed-rate mortgage for a new deal now?

Increasing numbers of homeowners are paying an early repayment charge to leave their fixed-rate mortgage deal early, and lock in a new deal now. Shoul…
30 Sep 2022
Energy meter reading day: why you need submit your gas and electricity readings now
Personal finance

Energy meter reading day: why you need submit your gas and electricity readings now

Energy meter reading day - you need to submit your gas and electricity readings as soon as possible ahead of the October energy price increase
30 Sep 2022
Should you fix your mortgage? Here are the best rates available now
Mortgages

Should you fix your mortgage? Here are the best rates available now

Rising interest rates look set to spring a nasty surprise on millions of homeowners next year. You need to take steps today to protect yourself from a…
30 Sep 2022
Why the Bank of England intervened in the bond market
Government bonds

Why the Bank of England intervened in the bond market

A sudden crisis for pension funds exposed to rapidly rising bond yields meant the Bank of England had to act. Cris Sholto Heaton looks at the lessons …
30 Sep 2022

Most Popular

What to do as the age of cheap money and overpriced equities ends
Investment strategy

What to do as the age of cheap money and overpriced equities ends

The age of cheap money, overpriced equities and negative interest rates is over. The great bond bull market is over. All this means you will be losin…
29 Sep 2022
Why everyone is over-reacting to the mini-Budget
Budget

Why everyone is over-reacting to the mini-Budget

Most analyses of the chancellor’s mini-Budget speech have failed to grasp its purpose and significance, says Max King
29 Sep 2022
Mini-Budget: will Kwasi Kwarteng’s gamble on growth work?
Budget

Mini-Budget: will Kwasi Kwarteng’s gamble on growth work?

The government has launched the biggest dash for growth in 50 years, relaunching an approach known as supply-side economics. What is the plan – and wi…
30 Sep 2022