Buying good travel insurance is always important, but the setting of a global pandemic has thrown new complications into the mix. Here is some government-issued advice on finding a policy, plus a guide to insurers.
1. Whether you already have a travel insurance policy or are looking for a new one, you need to check what cover it provides specifically for coronavirus-related events. Look at both medical cover and travel disruption. If you can’t travel because you develop coronavirus symptoms, are you covered? Are there exclusions for “exceptional circumstances”, and is coronavirus part of that?
2. The world is uncertain right now. Read through exactly what circumstances mean cancellation cover is provided for your trip, check whether it covers the full or partial cost of your holiday, and look for any excesses. Can you claim unused travel and accommodation costs that you are unable to recover elsewhere?
3. If Foreign Office advice on travel to a country changes before your trip, your policy may become invalid. Check the specific policy wording, and check the latest country advice before you travel.
4. You should always bring your policy details with you when you travel, including your policy number and emergency assistance phone numbers. You should also give a copy to friends or family at home, in case they need to get in contact for you.
5. Even putting aside coronavirus, according to the government your travel insurance should always cover:
- Emergency treatment and hospital bills (check whether your policy covers treatment in public or private hospitals);
- Emergency transport, such as ambulance fees or emergency repatriation on medical grounds;
- Getting home after treatment if you cannot use your original ticket;
- Reasonable costs for a family member or friend to stay with you or travel out to accompany you home if required;
- Temporary emergency dental treatment for the relief of immediate pain
- 24-hour assistance helplines to offer support and advice about appropriate treatment;
- Repatriation costs in the event of death abroad.
6. Until 31 December 2020, you can continue to use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you access to emergency state-provided healthcare in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. However, this is not an alternative to travel insurance and will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, including being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. It is also not valid on cruises.
7. Consumer watchdog Which? has put together a guide to the insurers which provide cover for Covid-19. These are not all possible scenarios, but a few common ones.
If you are diagnosed with Covid-19, the following providers offer cover:
Abta, AllClear, Allianz Assistance, Alpha Travel Insurance, Asda, Axa, Big Blue Cover, Co-op, Dogtag, Flexicover, Get Going, Holidaysafe, Insurancewith, Insurefor, Jet2, JustTravelCover, Leisure Guard, LV, MRL Insurance, Nationwide, Postcard, Saga, Spectrum, Staysure, TopDog, Trailfinders.
If your family or household member is diagnosed with Covid-19, meaning you have to self-isolate, the following providers offer cover:
AllClear, Allianz Assistance, Abta, Asda, Axa, Co-op, JustTravelCover, LV, Nationwide, Staysure, Trailfinders
If your hotel closes while you are there:
Axa, Big Blue Cover, Insurefor, Jet2, Leisure Guard, MRL Insurance, Nationwide
If Foreign Office advice changes before you travel, or if your destination restricts its borders before you travel for reasons relating to the pandemic:
Nationwide (not available for single trips and only available if you have a Nationwide bank account).