Note that the Coronavirus Pandemic is a developing situation and information which was correct at the time of writing may change over time.
As borders open and cabin-fever gets the better of us, many are considering booking a trip. However, coronavirus has not gone away and there are risks, which makes having adequate travel insurance more important than ever.
When Should I Take Out Travel Insurance?
Experts agree that the time to take out travel insurance is as soon as you book, so that you are protected from cancellation.
However, the policy is not worth the paper it’s written on if it does not cover you in the event of an emergency.
Check Carefully What Is Covered By Your Policy
Once travel resumes, you must check what is and what is not covered by your insurance policy. In post-covid times, insurers consider coronavirus as a ‘known event’, of which travellers should be aware, and may not cover coronavirus-related issues, for example;
- Delay or cancellation if you become ill with covid-19 and can’t travel, or if your trip is affected by coronavirus, for example a lockdown at your destination.
- Expenses incurred because you can’t return from your holiday due to emergency lockdown or travel restrictions.
- Covid-19 illness – medical expenses will not be covered if you contract the virus on holiday, suffer complications linked to coronavirus or require repatriation due to sickness or death.
- Fear of travel – if you choose not to travel because you’re worried about the risk of contracting coronavirus; for example on a plane, or if there is a surge in coronavirus at your destination.
- Pre-existing medical conditions – requires specialist insurance and may mean that it is inadvisable to travel during the pandemic; failure to disclose pre-existing conditions may invalidate your policy.
Note that if you choose to travel against government advice (current UK FCO advice is against all but ‘essential travel’) your travel insurance is unlikely to be valid. What constitutes ‘essential travel’ is a grey area, so if you do decide to travel, check with your insurer first.
I Have An EHIC – Do I Need Travel Insurance?
The quick answer is YES – DEFINITELY!
Healthcare in Europe is covered by the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). This is a reciprocal agreement, which entitles EU citizens to the same level of state healthcare as a local in the countries under the agreement – NOT the equivalent to what you would get in the UK.
Which treatments are covered varies between countries, and can include ambulances. You may not get the same standard of care as in the UK and it may not be free. Click here for a guide to healthcare in and out of EEA (European Economic Area.)
EHIC is NOT a replacement for travel insurance, since it covers only medical expenses, not cancellation, public liability, lost luggage etc. EHIC also does not cover private healthcare or repatriation due to medical necessity or death, which can be costly.
For UK citizens, unless a reciprocal agreement is struck as part of the Brexit Deal, your EHIC may not be valid after the end of the Brexit Transition Period – currently 31st December 2020. (If you are already abroad on 1st January 2021, the EHIC remains valid.) Make sure your travel insurance covers you after this time, since some insurance policies are based on your having a valid EHIC. For more information on the EHIC card, click here.
How to Get Insurance in Post-Covid Times
Many insurers have suspended selling new policies and sites like Money Supermarket, Money Saving Expert and Compare The Market have temporarily shelved their comparison and best buy features.
However, fortune favours the brave and those companies who adapt to the needs of travellers will benefit. To date, I could only find The Post Office Travel Insurance, which offers cover for emergency medical treatment and transport home if you fall ill with covid-19 while away, but not coronavirus-related cancellations or disruptions.
Market leader in long-term insurance for adventurous travellers, World Nomads, resumed selling policies in May, but does not cover coronavirus related issues.
Update, 15th July 2020 – I understand that Saga, Goodtogo and Staysure and a couple of banks who offer travel insurance with their accounts, such as HSBC and Nationwide are including COVID 19 cover, so long as FCO restrictions are not in place at the destination. Do always check the small print carefully.
Update, 20th October 2020 – Insurefor offers Covid cover and destinations where FCO advice is against all but essential travel due to Covid on its single trip European policies. Staysure offers European FCO Travel Advice Extension. Covid cover applies before you travel but you will not be covered for Covid or the reason behind the FCO travel advice whilst travelling. MPI offers emergency Covid cover.
How to Get Travel Insurance When You Are Already Abroad
Our travel insurance expired while we were in lockdown in Italy. It can be difficult to get insurance if you are already abroad; we are aware of only a few companies who offer ‘Already Travelling’ insurance. None offer cover for Covid-19-related issues.
Battleface offers unusual insurance packages, including to countries with travel warnings, but does not cover covid-19.
Click here for Which? Money’s list of insurers who offer ‘Unexpected Event Cover’, which to date includes cover for things like Scheduled Airline Failure, Volcanic Ash, Strike, Terrorism and Civil Unrest, but not covid-19.
What to Look For in Post-Covid Travel Insurance
If you’re buying insurance and are prepared to pay, here are some of the premium features you might look for in a policy;
- Cancel For Any Reason – offer cover irrespective of the reason for cancellation. Just check the small print to make sure that infectious diseases are covered – and be aware that it may not cover the full price of your holiday.
- Disruption Cover – will reimburse costs incurred due to delays or if you are put in quarantine.
- Check The Small Print – this Which? article highlights that some insurers may be selling policies that don’t cover you. It contains a table with useful links to the main insurers detailing what they are offering.
- What Do The Sections Cover? – This guide from Good To Go Insurance explains the different sections of a travel insurance policy.
- Dangerous Sports Cover – what constitutes a dangerous sport varies between insurance companies. Mark and I have to ensure that we are covered for windsurfing, skiing, SUP and cycling. The policy we bought covered surfing as standard, but not windsurfing, which was charged as an extra. Even if you plan to do a one-off activity, such as parascending or white-water rafting, check that you have cover, since activities such as these are often excluded. World Nomads insurance offers cover for 150 activities, but you may need to upgrade your policy or sporting level to ensure that you’re covered for everything you plan to do.
In these strange times, travel insurance is more important than ever. Make sure that you;
- Take out your policy as soon as you book.
- Ensure you have adequate cover and understand clearly what is and what is not covered.
- Don’t travel against government advice, since this will invalidate your insurance.
Wishing you Happy and Safe Travels!
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T&C’s – The Official Stuff
This post contains affiliate links for World Nomads Travel Insurance. If you follow the link and subsequently make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. This will not affect your purchase or the price you pay in any way.
World Nomads is a market leader and has excellent reviews; however, in order to give you choice, I have also presented alternative suppliers from whom I earn no commission. Please see my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.
All of the information provided about travel insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.