Coronavirus and travel insurance

Coronavirus, travel insurance, luggage

Does travel insurance cover pandemics?
Some providers have restricted cancellation and travel disruption cover in policies bought after coronavirus was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020.

At Compare the Market, the policies we show you are likely to cover claims related to COVID-19 for emergency medical and repatriation costs in line with your chosen policy. However, other types of claims related to COVID-19, such as cancellation, vary by provider, so we encourage you to check your policy before purchasing.

Coronavirus Update
Starting on 5 November, the Government has introduced a national lockdown for England that will last until at least 2 December. As part of this, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advise against all non-essential domestic and international travel.

If you choose to travel overseas to a destination while the FCDO has advised against non-essential travel, or domestically against the instructions of the UK Government, then your insurance policy will be invalid, and any claim will be rejected.

For those living in the UK but outside of England, the public health rules may differ, but you must abide by the restrictions imposed by your local authority.

We’ll continually review the situation, and update you with the latest FCDO or Government guidance on travel.

For more information, please see WHO coronavirus and travel insurance page.

Until then, stay safe.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions
Our panel includes insurance providers who quote cover for all medical conditions declared on our website, with no exclusions.

The Money and Pension Service (MaPs) has also launched a directory of insurance providers, who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service or by calling the British Insurance Brokers Association on 0370 950 1790.

Which countries are exempt by the FCDO?
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is regularly updating the list of destinations that are exempt from its ongoing advice against all non-essential travel. However, some home nations have issued their own advice:

Europe
Cyprus, Denmark (Faroe Islands and Greenland only),Estonia, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece (excluding Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zante), Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal (Madeira and the Azores only), San Marino and Sweden.

For Greece, some home nations have varying advice:
» Scotland have introduced quarantine for those returning from anywhere in Greece
» Wales have introduced quarantine for those returning from the islands of Antiparos, Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zante

North America
Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Martinique, Montserrat, St Barthelemy, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre & Miguelon and St Vincent & The Grenadines

South America
Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands.

Asia
British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Africa
Seychelles, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Oceania
Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa and Wallis & Futuna.

Antarctica
British Antarctic Territory
It’s important to understand that, while the FCDO may have approved travel to these countries and regions, each of these nations have their own border restrictions. Just because a destination is listed here, does not guarantee that they will permit you to enter. In addition, the list above is regularly updated and the Government may re-impose quarantine rules for travellers returning to the UK from any overseas destination. You should regularly check your specific destination for further information, including during your holiday, as the situation is regularly evolving and can change with very little notice.

While this list will be updated, you can find the most recent advice from the FCDO here.

Will my travel insurance cover me if I go to an affected region?
If you buy your insurance policy to cover a trip to a destination where the FCDO is currently advising against travel to for your planned dates, then it’s likely that you won’t be covered. If you’ve already bought insurance and the FCDO subsequently changes its advice for your destination, then you might have some cover, but you’ll need to check with your insurance provider.

As countries begin to ease lockdowns and other restrictions, some have announced dates for opening their borders to international travellers. For now, the FCDO advice remains to avoid all but essential travel overseas ‘indefinitely’, which will mean any policies bought now will be invalid, unless the FCDO has changed their advice for your destination before you depart. However, talks of “air bridges” between nations have begun, with announcements expected in the coming weeks.

Get country-specific travel advice from the FCDO.

If I cancel my trip, will a travel insurance claim cover my costs?
Provided you bought travel insurance before the FCDO issued its original advice on 4 April 2020 against all non-essential travel overseas, and before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, then you’re likely to be covered for some costs if you had to cancel your trip, cut it short or rearrange it due to the outbreak (in line with your policy wording).

But it would be a different matter if the FCDO later changes it stance, and no longer advises against travel to your destination on the date of your departure. In that situation, if you decided not to go, your decision would likely be classed as “disinclination to travel”. Then, it is likely that you wouldn’t be covered by your travel insurance provider.

Similarly, if you decided not to travel because of the risk of self-isolation rules coming into effect, this may also be regarded as “disinclination to travel”. If you have any concerns, then you should contact your insurer to understand your cover.

Can I add disruption cover to my existing policy?
This will depend on the individual travel insurance provider. You’ll need to contact them to ask.

Will the airline refund me if my flight is cancelled?
Yes, they should offer you a full refund or the chance to arrange an alternative flight to the same destination, but you may not be entitled to any other compensation.

Of course, you may have paid out for other things, like hotels, which you might be able to claim for on your travel insurance.

What if my airline cancels a flight to an area which doesn’t have ‘no travel’ advice?
In this case, you should still be entitled to a refund or an alternative flight to the same destination.

I have travel booked later this year. Can I still go?
You’ll need to keep checking the FCDO advice for that destination to see if restrictions have been lifted. You can sign up for FCDO updates on specific destinations. Also keep checking with your travel provider.

Entry restrictions for travellers
Many countries have introduced entry restrictions, barring entry for travellers from countries with high transmission rates. Foreign visitors may have to go into quarantine, with periods of self-isolation varying between destinations. Some countries have introduced screening and temperature checks at airports.

As different countries take different approaches, and with the situation changing rapidly, if you intend to travel, check the restrictions and quarantine rules of your destination country, as well as any that would apply once you’ve returned to the UK.

From 8 June, the UK Government has confirmed it will ask people entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days. This measure also applies to UK citizens returning home from holidays. However, it won’t apply to people entering the country from other parts of the UK’s Common Travel Area, which includes the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

What if I want to go on holiday within the UK?
UK nations now have different public health rules for people travelling between each region.

We strongly advise you to check the restrictions for where you wish to travel before you leave. Any insurance policy purchased to cover a trip while the local authority has instructed citizens not to travel will not be valid.

You can find the latest guidance here from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland respectively.

I’m not going to an affected region, but I still want to travel. Can I go?
The FCDO is currently advising British nationals against all but essential international travel and says any country may restrict travel without notice.

What should I do if I’m already on holiday in an affected region?
The FCDO says all UK nationals are ‘strongly advised to return now’.

Although support from consulates will be limited, British citizens are encouraged to contact relevant embassies for advice. It’s also worth checking the regularly updated country-specific advice from the FCDO.

People returning from affected areas should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people. The World Health Organization advises self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days. You can get more advice from the 111 online coronavirus service.

What happens if my destination has a sudden increase in coronavirus?
If you’re away from the UK and your destination is affected by a sudden outbreak of coronavirus, the UK Government may impose rules mandating you to self-isolate for a period of time when you return to the UK. This can happen with very little notice, so it’s best to consult the FCDO’s regularly updated country-specific advice.

Consular support should be available in your region, although you can expect this to become less readily available if the situation worsens.

Will I be covered if I’m put in quarantine while abroad?
This varies by insurance provider. Some policies will automatically extend if your travel home is delayed for reasons out of your control, while others might not cover additional costs.

Check with your insurance provider about your policy’s disruption cover for a clearer picture.

What can I do to protect myself when booking future holidays?
Comprehensive travel insurance is a must when planning a future holiday. Look for a policy with disruption cover to reimburse costs associated with delays and protect you in the unfortunate event that you end up in quarantine.

Can I buy travel insurance if I’m already on holiday?
Although you should arrange cover before you set off, you may be able to buy specialist travel insurance after you’ve departed. Your circumstances and whether you intend to make a claim will be taken into account and there may be a waiting period to prevent you from making an immediate claim.
Source : © 2020 comparethemarket.com (Patrick Ikhena)

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