With restrictions and isolation guidance issued by the government for holidays abroad, travel insurance has become even more important when booking your holiday. In this article, we take a look at the different types of travel insurance and what travel insurance actually covers you for. We also look at whether travel insurance policies cover coronavirus and detail some of the travel insurance providers that offer Covid-19 travel cover.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is an insurance policy designed to protect you should you experience any problems whilst you are on holiday, either in the UK or abroad. Travel insurance can cover the cost of medical bills, lost luggage and legal bills should things go awry whilst you are away. Therefore taking out a travel insurance policy before you travel is essential. Some travel insurance policies may also pay out if your trip is cancelled due to illness before you travel. Travel insurance is often best bought as soon as you book your holiday if you want the best cover as it will ensure you are covered for cancellation and any instances that may occur in the lead up to your trip away.
What are the different types of travel insurance?
There are three main types of travel insurance policy you can choose from; single trip, annual trip and long stay travel insurance. You will need to select which part of the world you will be visiting and this can be defined by choosing either European, Worldwide or Worldwide including the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. Check your policy documents carefully so you know that your destination is definitely covered and under which policy type. Below, we explain more about the three main types of travel insurance you can buy.
Single trip travel insurance
Single trip travel insurance insures you for one trip for a set period of time and can be a cheaper option than an annual policy if you are only planning on taking one or two breaks in a year. If you are likely to be away multiple times in a 12 month period, you may wish to consider annual trip cover. Some insurers will only cover your trip for a set amount of time, usually a maximum of 31 days however some insurers may cover you for up to 3 months.
Annual travel insurance
Annual trip travel insurance is designed to cover you for multiple trips over a 12 month period and may be more cost-effective than purchasing multiple single trip travel insurance policies. There are usually restrictions on the length of each trip within the year, usually a maximum of 31 days.
Long stay travel insurance
Long stay travel insurance insures you for a longer trip, typically longer than a month at a time. Long stay travel insurance may be suitable for backpackers who are planning to be away for long periods of time or those who are likely to spend long periods of time on holiday throughout the winter.
What does travel insurance cover?
How much cover you have is dependent on the travel insurance policy you choose, so ensure you check your policy documents carefully to know exactly what you are covered for.
What is included in a standard travel insurance policy?
Most travel insurance policies typically offer the following cover:
Emergency medical cover
Repatriation to the UK due to death, illness or accident
Lost or damaged belongings
Lost or damaged luggage
What is not included in a standard travel insurance policy?
A standard travel insurance policy will not cover you for the following:
Injuries that occur due to working
Expensive personal belongings (this may require additional cover)
Adventurous and potentially dangerous activities, e.g winter sports
Some pre-existing conditions may require specialist cover and so may not be covered if you did not declare them when you took out a policy
Claims related to drug and excessive alcohol use
Claims related to illegal activities
Is coronavirus covered by travel insurance?
In short, most travel insurance providers will offer a basic level of coronavirus cover on new policies which should include medical cover if you are diagnosed with Covid whilst abroad and repatriation costs should you need to return to the UK. All insurers registered with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) will provide a basic level of Covid-19 cover which will include cover for emergency medical treatment overseas as a result of Covid-19. It is unlikely however that policies will cover claims for cancellation due to Foreign Development and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) advice against travel. You may, however, be able eligible for cancellation cover if you or a travel companion contracts Covid-19 before you go. You can check the providers that are registered with the ABI here.
If you travel against advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) you will invalidate your travel insurance policy.
Does travel insurance cover me if I get Covid before travelling?
Whilst not all travel insurance companies will offer cancellation cover due to Covid-19, it is still possible to get cover. Insurers such as LV and The Post Office claim to cover your holiday cancellation costs should you, a family member or travel companion test positive for coronavirus in the lead up to your departure date and are therefore unable to travel. However, it is imperative that you read your policy documents carefully as some insurers have clauses about when exactly they will pay out for cancellation costs. For example, LV states that it may only pay out for cancellation and curtailment claims if you have tried to rebook your trip or obtain a refund from your travel provider first.
Does travel insurance cover me if I get Covid when abroad?
Most travel insurance policies offer a basic level of cover for medical and repatriation expenses if you require medical treatment for illness caused by Covid-19 whilst you are abroad. The amount you are covered for is dependant on the policy you choose so you will need to check the policy documents carefully. Travel insurance provider Virgin Money will cover medical expenses and additional accommodation costs (limits apply) if the treatment requires your trip to be extended. Some insurers, such as LV, also offer cover for activities and excursions that you may miss out on due to having to isolate due to coronavirus whilst you are away.
Does travel insurance cover me if the traffic light system changes whilst I'm away on holiday?
The government's traffic light travel system does not directly affect the level of cover on your travel insurance policy as travel insurers refer to guidance from the FCDO. The traffic light system relates to the isolation guidance you are required to follow upon arrival back into the UK. Therefore, if guidance on your destination from the FCDO has not changed whilst you are away then you are still covered with your travel insurance policy. Information on those travel restrictions and the traffic light system for travelling can be found in our article "Coronavirus travel restrictions, rights & which countries are on the green list?"
Does travel insurance cover me if I cancel my holiday due to Covid-19?
If you decide to cancel your holiday as you no longer want to travel due to risks associated with Covid-19 but no guidance against travel has been issued by the FCDO, then you will not be covered by your insurance company. This is because there were known risks when booking to travel abroad during the pandemic. In this instance, it would be advisable to speak to the tour operator or airline to try to move the date of your travel.
Travel insurance providers that cover covid
Below we share three providers that offer cover for Covid-19 related claims. This list is not extensive and there is a vast range of other insurers that also offer cover for coronavirus related claims. You can also use comparison sites such as MoneySuperMarket* to compare travel insurance providers that cover for Covid-19. MoneySuperMarket claims that every provider on its panel "offers emergency medical treatment and repatriation for coronavirus claims as a minimum". However, it is worth remembering that comparison sites are not usually whole of market and you may therefore find a better deal elsewhere.
- 5 star Defaqto rated insurance policies
- Cover for medical treatment for Covid-19 if you fall ill whilst away
- Cancellation cover if you test positive for Covid before you are due to travel
- More information on AA travel insurance can be found here
- 5 star Defaqto rated insurance policies
- Emergency medical and repatriation costs if test postive for Covid-19 whilst abroad
- Cancellation cover if you test positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of departure or if your trip needs to be cut short
- Cover for excursion cancellations due to isolation order from a government authority as you contracted Covid-19 whilst away
- More information on Admiral travel insurance can be found here
- 5 star Defaqto rated insurance policies
- Cover if you or your travelling companion is diagnosed with Covid-19 and can no longer travel due to illness or because you are isolating
- Cover for excursion cancellations due to Covid diagnosis whilst abroad or an order to quarantine
- Repatriation cover if the FCDO advice changes and you need to return to the UK
- Medical and repatriation cover if you are diagnosed with Covid-19 whilst abroad
- More information on LV travel insurance can be found here
LV does have clauses within its policy documents that state "Cancellation and curtailment claims are only valid if evidence can be provided that all other appropriate avenues (eg re-booking or refund from the trip or payment provider) have been exhausted."
Things to consider before buying travel insurance
Are your destinations covered?
Your holiday destination determines which type of policy you can buy as there are different policies that cover different destinations around the world. For example, some insurers offer worldwide cover that covers the USA and others have separate worldwide cover that excludes the USA. You need to ensure that the country you are travelling to is covered within your policy documents. In addition, if you are looking to travel once the restrictions are lifted you will need to ensure you stay up to date with the latest FCDO guidance on travel as this will determine if your travel insurance policy covers you whilst you are away.
Have you declared any medical conditions?
It is imperative that you declare any medical conditions before you travel as this could invalidate your insurance policy should you fall ill and need to make a claim.
Have you got the right cover?
Most travel insurance policies provide an option to cover extras such as cruises and winter sports. Covering these additional activities will ensure you are covered for injuries related to those specific activities, otherwise, you could invalidate your insurance or not be able to claim. Some insurers, such as Staysure, also offer cover if you need to travel against FCDO advice for an essential trip, so check the policy documents carefully to ensure you have the right cover.
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