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Travel Insurance

Please note that you can find up-to-date travel advice on the Government's website. This includes information on steps to take for those who have essential travel and further consular advice.

Changes to Government advice on overseas travel

The Government has recently updated guidance on travel to certain countries due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the rules around quarantine on return to the UK also continue to be updated. 

This is an evolving situation. With new country guidance being issued regularly it is essential to check the FCDO guidance before you travel. We have compiled these frequently asked questions to help people understand the impact for their insurance.

 

Six to know before you go

  1. Always make sure it is safe to travel. Always check current FCDO advice, especially as travelling against FCDO advice is likely to invalidate your travel insurance. Be aware of any quarantine requirements on your return to the UK – travel insurance will not cover costs associated with quarantining in Government provided accommodation.
  2. Buy travel insurance and make sure that it best meets your needs. The main reason for travel insurance is to cover the costs of emergency overseas medical treatment which, together with any repatriation required back to the UK, can easily run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  3. Check and be aware of any COVID-19 exclusions in your travel insurance. All ABI travel insurers will continue to provide cover for emergency medical treatment needed overseas, including emergency medical treatment related to COVID-19. However, policies are unlikely to cover cancellation due to COVID-19, as it was a known risk when the policy was taken out
  4. Be aware of, and comply with, travel requirements for entering overseas countries. It is your responsibility to comply with any border restrictions in place at your destination country (i.e. negative COVID-19 test, vaccine). If you do not comply with these requirements, then you will need to return home at your own cost. 
  5. Have your EHIC, or get a GHIC, if travelling to Europe. If you hold a current European Health Insurance Card (the EHIC entitles you to access state-provided health care when visiting the EU) this remains valid until its expiry date. After then, or if you do not have an EHIC, you will need to apply in the same way (through NHS online) for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
    Neither the EHIC or the GHIC is a replacement for travel insurance as it will not cover you for all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.
  6. Know your rights. Get as much information as you can, so that, in the event of any travel problems, you know what you are entitled to. For example, check the refund policy of any accommodation provider, what you are entitled to if booking a package holiday, and what the legal obligations of the airline are if your flight is disrupted or cancelled.

For more information, you can read our commonly asked questions:

Is travel insurance widely available?

  • Travel insurance is widely available. You should check your policy for what you are covered for as it is likely that any policy bought or renewed, or trip booked, after the pandemic was officially declared is unlikely to cover cancellation due to COVID-19 (which may include the need to self-isolate) as it is a known risk.
  • Travelling to any destination where the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel will continue to risk invalidating your policy.

What should I do about travelling?

You should follow the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice. If you travel against FCDO advice then you are likely to invalidate your travel insurance, leaving you uninsured.

What happens if the country I was due to visit has gone from green listed to amber or red?

  • You should ensure that you follow the travel requirements set out by the government, as well as those of the country you are visiting. If you travel against FCDO advice, then you are likely to invalidate your travel insurance.
  • If you want to cancel or change your travel arrangements, you should speak to your tour operator, travel agent or airline. Travel insurance polices taken out after the pandemic are likely to contain exclusions for cancellation as a result of COVID-19, as it is known risk.

What happens if my holiday is cancelled?

  • In the first instance, a refund should be sought from the airline, accommodation provider or tour operator. Following that, any bookings made through a credit card may also be able to have costs recovered through section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act or via a 'chargeback claim'.​
  • Travel insurance may cover non-refundable cancellation costs, in specific circumstances, only when other consumer protections do not apply. This may include medical advice that means you or a member of your group is unable to travel. Check your travel insurance policy for the scope of cover as policies taken out or renewed, or trips booked, after the pandemic was declared are likely to exclude cancellation due to Coronavirus as it was a known risk when the policy was taken out.

If I cancel my travel plans can I claim any cancellation costs on my travel insurance?

Travel insurance may cover non-refundable cancellation costs, in specific circumstances. These may include medical advice against you or a member of your group from travelling. Check your travel insurance policy for the scope of cover as policies taken out or renewed, or trips booked, after the pandemic was declared are likely to exclude cancellation due to Coronavirus as it was a known risk when the policy was taken out.

If I’ve booked a holiday but have now decided not to travel/do not want to pay to do the required quarantine/testing, can I claim on my travel insurance?

  • You should speak to your tour operator, travel agent or airline about any refunds or making alternative arrangements – many airlines and travel operators are now offering customers flexibility to change the date of your holiday. Travel insurance is not designed to cover situations where you choose not to travel because you do not want to quarantine on your return to the UK.
  • Further, since the pandemic, most travel insurance policies will have exclusions for cancellation cover as a result of COVID-19, as it is  known risk, and travel insurance is designed and priced to cover risks unforeseen when the policy is taken out. You should check your policy to make sure you know what you are covered for.

If I have to take a COVID-19 test to be allowed to travel and it’s come back positive and I need to cancel, can I claim on travel insurance?

If you test positive for COVID-19, and are unable to travel, then you should first speak to your tour operator, travel agent or airline about any refunds or making alternative arrangements. Travel insurance may provide some cover for cancellation if you are unable to travel due to medical advice. It is important to check what you are covered for as, since the pandemic happened, travel insurance policies may contain exclusions for cancellation cover as a result of COVID-19, as it is  known risk, and travel insurance is designed and priced to cover risks unforeseen when the policy is taken out.

What happens if I am not allowed entry into my destination country?

  • It is your responsibility to comply with any border restrictions in place at your destination country (i.e. negative COVID-19 test, vaccine). If you do not comply with these requirements, then you will need to return home at your own cost.
  • Travel insurance will not provide cover for the cost of quarantine hotels on return to the UK, as this is not the purpose of travel insurance.

Am I covered for medical treatment if I get sick from COVID-19 when abroad?

All ABI travel insurers will continue to provide cover for emergency medical treatment, including relating to COVID-19, that you may need overseas. If you are unsure if you have this cover, you should check the position with your insurer.

What happens if I'm quarantined overseas?

  • If you are required to be quarantined while abroad, you may be covered by your insurance policy, including any relevant medical expenses that are required, provided that there is no COVID-19 exclusion. This may also include additional accommodation and travel expenses. Check with your insurer if you have any questions.
  • Many policies can be extended for a specific period, if you are unavoidably detained from returning to the UK. If this happens, then check with your insurer.

Will my travel insurance continue to cover me when I am abroad if I cannot get home?

Most travel insurance policies already automatically extend so you are still covered against the risk of emergency medical treatment when they are stuck abroad due to ongoing travel restrictions. Given these exceptional circumstances, leading ABI members will look to extend this protection to cover the risk of emergency medical treatment for up to a minimum of 60 days, provided you are making every effort to return home. If you are unsure if your insurance coverage will be extended, you should check with your insurer as soon as possible. 

What happens if FCDO advice changes to advise against travel to the country I am currently in?

You will be covered for the duration of your trip under the same terms as when you took out the policy, including cover for emergency medical treatment.

Can I claim on my travel insurance if I have to quarantine in Government provided accommodation on my return to the UK?

You are unlikely to be able to claim for costs associated with quarantining in Government provided accommodation, including any lost earnings. The purpose of travel insurance is to provide you with protection for travelling abroad.

What about UK holidays – is it worth taking out travel insurance?

  • When buying UK travel insurance make sure you are clear what cancellation cover is included. While you may be covered if you get ill from COVID-19 you may not be covered for changes in Government advice. It is important to make sure you get cover that meets your needs.
  • Home insurance may cover possessions lost/stolen outside the home, up to specified limits, so check if you have this cover. 

Will travel insurance premiums change?

Pricing is a commercial decision for individual insurers. Travel insurance is a competitive market, with travellers encouraged to shop around to get the policy at the best price that is most suitable for their own circumstances.

What would be classed as ‘essential’ travel?

You should check with your travel insurer if the reasons for your trip would or would not invalidate your travel insurance. A holiday to the area would not be considered as essential. 

What is GHIC?

  • The new GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) provides you with the same medically necessary state-provided healthcare that you were able to access with an EHIC when travelling to the EU. Your EHIC card will be valid until it expires, and you can continue to use it when travelling to the EU.
  • GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance as it will not cover you for all medical costs or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.