The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted life and caused a global clampdown on travel. This means UK travellers have limited options for their summer break in 2020.
Several countries, particularly across Europe, have either announced plans to ease the lockdown in the coming days or weeks, such as France, Germany, Austria and Greece, or have effectively unlocked the population.
Many people may be tempted to begin their holiday planning again. And one of the most common questions is whether travellers will be covered for Covid-19 claims? But the answer to this question depends on exactly what you mean by ‘am I covered’?
Rebecca Kingsley, brand manager travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk explores these issues and advises why holidaymakers must still consider purchasing travel insurance.
Overseas travel: where are we?
While countries have announced a process to ease lockdown restrictions, in most cases, some form of social distancing will remain.
As of today (12 May 2020), the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against all non-essential international travel. This advice was initially issued on 17 March for a 30-days period but was extended indefinitely on 4 April. Although, it is worth noting that this advice is mostly the same as the initial ‘all but essential’ travel guidance and could be lifted at any point, meaning international travel restrictions could be eased and trips abroad may well resume.
Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
The simple answer is yes. You should always buy travel insurance in case something unexpected happens while you’re away. And as soon as the FCO change their travel advice, you will need travel insurance to protect both yourself and your trip.
However, it’s important to understand how some policies have changed since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus as a pandemic on the 12th of March.
Around the 13th of March, many travel insurers began excluding some coronavirus-related claims from any new policies purchased. This is because the coronavirus was and is now classed as a ‘known event’, and much like any other form of personal insurance, the purpose of insurance is to cover unknown and unexpected events.
New exclusions to policies mean that some travel insurance policies may not provide cover for cancellation, abandonment, or curtailment claims which are related to the coronavirus. They may also not cover a change in FCO advice, should this be a result of the coronavirus.
That being said some travel insurers are choosing to include cover for Covid-19 and absorbing these extra costs themselves.
For instance, British travel company Trailfinders have updated their travel insurance policy to include cover for Covid-19, including cancellation due to having to quarantine prior to travel, cover for extra accommodation if required to quarantine while abroad and for medical expenses and repatriation if the virus is caught while on holiday. They have decided to absorb the policy increase, so there is no additional cost to their clients.
However, it’s important to know that many policies will still cover medical expenses related to the coronavirus once travel bans and restrictions are lifted.
While people are not able to travel at the moment, the risk of contracting Covid-19 will still be present for a significant amount of time in the future.
Therefore, it is essential you have travel insurance to protect yourself, so that when the travel ban is lifted (and the country you are travelling to has no travel restrictions in place), you are covered should you need emergency medical treatment abroad. Of course, restrictions and terms and conditions may vary from provider to provider, so it’s always worth checking exactly what your policy covers you for.
The FCO says don’t travel but I have a flight. Will I be covered?
It is important to remember that if you decide to travel at this moment in time and against the FCO advice then you will most likely not be covered.