Is travel insurance with ‘Covid cover’ giving you the confidence to book your next holiday? Just make sure you understand what it means – it might not include as much as you think.
With optimistic holidaymakers looking to book trips through late summer and autumn 2021, there’s been an upsurge of ‘Covid cover’ and ‘coronavirus guarantees’ offered with holidays, flights, accommodation and travel insurance.
But what do these phrases actually mean? You might assume that Covid cover includes all sorts of eventualities, but you could be in for a nasty shock if it’s more limited than you thought.
The travel insurance industry has responded to the coronavirus pandemic by offering cover for specific Covid-19 related expenses.
We checked the features of 660 single-trip and 699 annual/multi-trip travel insurance policies on Defaqto on 6 August 2021 and guess what? There’s no standard definition of ‘Covid cover'.
That means it’s extremely important that you know what cover’s important to you and make sure it’s included when you choose your policy.
Planning a trip? Make sure you check cover before you go
The table below shows the different elements of coronavirus cover and the percentage of travel insurance policies that include it.
Elements of Covid cover
% of travel policies that include cover
|Medical expenses covered||96||96|
|Cancellation – positive test||88||87|
|Cancellation unable to stay||66||65|
|Cancellation due to self-isolation||55||54|
|Cancellation - denied boarding outbound due to Covid symptoms||45||42|
|Enforced stay - denied boarding homeward-bound due to Covid symptoms||2||3|
|Quarantine abroad – accommodation/repatriation costs if ordered to quarantine following exposure at destination||5||5|
|Cancellation due to FCDO advice changing||1||2.5|
|Cancellation due to being in lockdown||0.2||0.4|
Fewer than half of travel insurance policies cover you for being denied boarding due to showing Covid symptoms at the airport"
It’s fairly likely you’ll be covered if you caught Covid before you went – almost nine out of 10 travel insurance policies would refund the cost of travel and accommodation if you got a positive coronavirus test before you were due to travel.
Yet you’re less likely to be covered if your airline stops you from travelling because they suspect you have coronavirus – fewer than half of policies would cover the cost of trips that are cancelled because you're denied boarding for your outbound journey due to displaying possible Covid symptoms.
If you have Covid symptoms before your trip, go and get tested. Don’t attempt to travel.
Almost all travel insurance policies included claims for medical expenses caused by Covid"
You can be pretty confident of finding travel insurance that’ll pay for your medical expenses if you fall ill with Covid-19 during your trip. We found that 96% of travel insurance policies included claims for medical expenses caused by Covid.
Unfortunately, medical bills aren’t the only extra cost you could incur from catching Covid on holiday and you’re much less likely to be covered for your travel and accommodation costs if you get ill and can’t go home on time.
Just 2-3% of policies would pay the costs if you’re forced to stay abroad longer due to developing symptoms that mean you’re denied travel home at the airport.
Just over half of travel insurance policies will cover you if you have to cancel your trip because you're self-isolating"
Around half of travel insurance policies will cover you if you have to cancel your trip because you’re having to self-isolate after a call from Track and Trace.
So if, for example, your job means you’re exposed to social contact and at a greater risk of frequent bouts of isolation, it’s a good idea to try to find policies that include this cover.
But you’re highly unlikely to find travel insurance that’ll cover you if you have to quarantine abroad, even if you’re not ill. Just 5% of single trip and multi-trip policies cover this.
That could land you with a big bill for extra accommodation and rearranged flights, and highlights the importance of taking every precaution with your health like social distancing, masks and hand hygiene while you’re away.
You'll almost certainly not be covered by your travel insurance if you travel against FCDO advice"
Travel insurers are pretty united in not covering travel against global and government advice. You’ll almost certainly not be covered if you travel when the Foreign, Commonweath and Development Office (FCDO) guidance says you shouldn’t – even if there was no guidance against travelling when you booked your holiday or bought your travel insurance policy.
You’ll almost certainly not be covered for the costs of cancelling or changing your plans if the area you live in goes into a regional or national lockdown either. But if these things happen, don’t despair until you’ve contacted your travel agent, flight company or accommodation provider – they might offer their own protection.