The Government has put 12 countries on its ‘green’ list within the travel traffic light system. So far, only one holiday hot spot, Portugal, is on there. Some of the others are either unheard of or unlikely destinations.
However, with reviews of the traffic light system happening every three weeks, this could change, and the list could become more populated with destinations that we love.
Levels of restrictions are still in place, depending on the Covid-19 risk each country might pose. Travellers should know they can find travel insurance to cover new risks triggered by the pandemic when travelling abroad.
Fiona Macrae, head of consumer awareness initiative, travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk answers your questions on COVID-19 travel insurance cover:
Will I still need travel insurance with Covid-19 cover if the destination I am travelling to is ‘green’?
Yes. There are many reasons why it is still essential to have travel insurance in place, regardless of what category the holiday destination falls into. Aside from cover for events related to Covid-19, travellers still need protection for all other things that could happen while abroad, such as trip cancellation, lost luggage, and medical expenses.
However, even if a country is deemed ‘green’, holidaymakers will still be required to return to the UK with proof of a negative Covid-19 test before they depart. Should they fail that test, they will need to self-isolate at the holiday resort or country they are in, pay for additional accommodation, and re-arrange a return flight to the UK.
This cover is available under some travel insurance policies. Although, it’s worth noting that it is not offered as standard across the industry.
Will I be covered if I miss my flight due to delays at the airport?
Mass queues at airports may be the new normal at border control due to the requirement to provide further documentation to leave the UK and enter most destinations.
Travellers should look for a policy that includes protection against missed departure due to reasons that cannot be foreseen or avoided, such as mass delays. This type of cover should, in most cases, provide cover for alternative transportation to help travellers reach their trip destination if something unexpected caused them to miss their flight.
However, you will need to provide evidence that you took all reasonable steps to ensure that you reached the airport on time and that the missed departure was due to something you could not have anticipated.
Will I be covered to cancel my trip if I am unable to provide the right documentation?
Travellers are now required to provide a passenger locator form, proof of a Covid-19 status, and/or proof of a vaccine to leave the UK and enter most countries.
If you fail to provide the required evidence, such as proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure, and as a result are refused entry to a destination, in most cases, you will not be covered to claim on your travel insurance policy for any lost costs.
It is your responsibility to make sure you have the correct documentation to leave and enter your intended destination when travelling.
How do I know if my travel insurance covers me to cancel my trip if I catch Covid-19 before my holiday?
Some travel insurance policies provide cover for cancellation if any of the travelling party catch Covid-19 before they’re due to depart and are legally required to isolate, causing them to miss their trip.
If this cover is available within a policy, it may be worded as follows: “cover if anyone named on the policy contracts Covid-19 within 14 days of their trip starting”.
However, the exact wording will vary depending on the travel insurance provider.
How do I know if my travel insurance covers me for medical costs if I catch Covid-19 while on holiday?
The majority of travel insurers now offer cover that includes medical expenses related to the coronavirus. In most cases, the only reason someone would not be covered for medical expenses related to Covid-19 is if they travelled to a destination against government advice.
If this cover is available within a policy, it may be worded as follows: “cover for medical expenses if anyone named on the policy contracts Covid-19 while on holiday (as long as they did not travel against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advice (FCDO)).
Do any travel insurance policies cover trip cancellation due to a change in government advice?
At present, no travel insurance providers offer cancellation cover due to a change in government advice. The reason for this is because financial protection is available elsewhere.
For example, if the government advises against travel and holidays can no longer go ahead, the tour operator is expected to invite customers to change their travel dates or offer them a full refund.
If the individual booked their trip independently (e.g., separate flights and accommodation) and the advice changes, they can ask for their money back from their airline, accommodation provider, bank, or credit card company. So, including this type of cover and charging customers would not be seen as fair value on a travel insurance policy, as they can recover their money, for free, elsewhere.
We strongly urge anyone booking a trip (whether in the UK or abroad) to make sure they book with a tour operator that offers flexible cancellation terms and conditions. That way, if the destination they are due to travel is suddenly put in the red zone, they will not lose out financially and may even be able to change their travel dates free of charge for later on in the year.
Is there any other comprehensive travel insurance cover that covers all COVID-19 risks?
Many travel insurance providers offer some form of protection against Covid-19, but the exact cover varies from provider to provider. Therefore, it is down to individuals to research the cover most suitable for their circumstances and choose a policy based on their needs.
We are aware that a small number of travel insurance providers are introducing cancellation cover if holidaymakers come into contact with someone who has Covid-19 before their trip and therefore has to isolate. Before, most insurers would only allow trip cancellation if one of the travelling party caught Covid-19 themselves.
Many UK travellers have also been taking advantage of the low deposit holiday deals offered by tour operators. This has led some travel insurers to introduce a new policy specifically for those who have bought a holiday but have only paid the deposit. If the holiday is cancelled the traveller can claim cancellation costs without having to pay any excess.
If they have already paid their holiday balance in full but need to cancel their trip, they will still be covered for cancellation costs but will have to pay their excess.
Travel insurance in general and cover for Covid-19 varies between providers. Therefore, it is essential to take the time to research the different types of cover available and carefully read the policy wording before buying.