Pretty much all of the people I speak to at the moment are fed up and desperate for a holiday.
The recent announcement that the Canary Islands were off the quarantine list led to an online stampede for a Winter sun holiday, with prices rocketing and websites buckling under the strain.
Many, many more people are waiting to see what happens with popular countries like France, Spain and Italy – particularly those who moved their holidays forward at the start of lockdown.
With ever-changing travel and quarantine advice in the news daily – both at home and abroad – it’s difficult to keep on top of all the developments.
However, in the midst of all this, optimistic holidaymakers may be missing out on important changes with travel insurance.
At the start of lockdown, travel insurance policies dried up more or less completely, then as the months passed, they began to creep back out on to the market.
The insurance industry is by its nature conservative. So the policies that first emerged were very restrictive when it came to Covid-19 cover, with most not insuring any claims arising from the pandemic.
The good news is policies are starting to offer varying levels of Covid cover now. However, it’s often confusing and hard to understand what specifically is covered by them – and what isn’t.
Covid-19 and quarantine
Some of the main travel insurers are offering cover for people who can’t travel due to contracting Covid 19 – if you can prove you’re infected.
However, these policies (and I’ve reviewed quite a few of them) don’t usually cover people who are forced to quarantine due to track and trace rules but aren’t infected.
This seems rather unfair to me.
I believe the insurance industry should be working with holiday companies to allow travel packages for those quarantining to be moved forward, with the insurance policy carried over too.
This would provide more of an incentive for people to book holidays, knowing there was more of a safety net if things go wrong.
For now though, the limitations on Covid-19 cover are ‘key facts’ which your insurer should be making very clear to you when you purchase travel insurance or when they update your existing annual policies (these will have changed significantly so don’t assume your original cover applies).
This means the insurer should make it clear up front or in a key facts booklet what you’re covered and not covered for – and not bury the information in the T&Cs.
There are a few insurers that are offering cover for cancelling holidays if you’ve been told to isolate, but the devil is in the detail.
For example, some policies suggest they will pay out if a family member has Covid-19 and you all have to isolate.
This, however, is different to having to isolate due to track and trace.
It might seem like a technicality, but it’s an important thing to check. So speak to your insurer before you sign up to find out exactly what’s covered.
It’s also virtually impossible to find a policy that covers cancellation if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) changes it’s travel advice before you travel.
What is covered then?
Some travel policies will cover Covid-19 cancellations if you or a family member get sick, though these tend to be the more expensive ones.
Of those insurers offering varying degrees of Covid-19 cover, most relate to medical expenses, generally if you catch the virus abroad.
These policies vary considerably though, so you may find that you’re covered for medical bills, but not for expenses or curtailment of the holiday itself.
Why bother with travel insurance then?
The simple answer is, a lot can go wrong on holiday, so travel insurance is still an essential purchase.
Many insurers are offering cover for countries on the ‘all but essential travel’ FCDO list, but they will exclude claims arising from Covid.
If you’re taking a punt on traveling abroad, this cover is better than nothing – as long as you go into the holiday with your eyes open and have plans in place should you get sick. Check the Government travel websites for the latest guidance.
Also make sure you have a back up source of cash (like a credit card) for any emergency costs you might incur.
If you’re struggling with a travel problem Resolver can help