Travel insurance with COVID-19 cover

Covid-19 is still a threat to our holidays, potentially causing trips to be cancelled or cut short. But with the right travel insurance cover you can ensure that you aren’t left out of pocket even if you do get sick.

John Fitzsimons
John Fitzsimons
Updated 6 September 2023  | 5 mins read

Does travel insurance cover COVID-19?

While Covid-19 isn’t the dominant topic of conversation it once was, the virus remains present and that means it has the potential to disrupt your holiday plans.

Thankfully Covid-19 ‒ and the impact of contracting the virus ‒ is now covered as standard by most travel insurance policies. As a result, even if you do get sick, whether on the trip or before you leave, there’s some protection in place from your policy.

Key points

  • Travel insurance with Covid-19 cover will offer protection if your holiday has to be cancelled before you leave, or cut short due to contracting the virus
  • Levels of cover will differ between insurers, so it’s important to be clear about the terms and conditions of your policy
  • Additional Covid-19 cover is on offer from some insurers, though you’ll have to pay extra for it

What does travel insurance with COVID-19 cover include?

Before you leave

If you or someone in your party becomes unwell before you head off on your trip, then the holiday may need to be cancelled. This is where travel insurance with Covid-19 cover can prove invaluable, ensuring that you get your money back.

The exact terms will vary between insurers, but generally you can expect the cover to apply if you or someone on the trip tests positive within 14 days of departure, leading to the holiday having to be cancelled.

Some policies may also pay out if you’re unable to board the plane because someone in your party is displaying symptoms.

While you’re on holiday

Travel insurance with Covid-19 cover will typically include medical costs should you fall ill during your trip. This covers the costs of any emergency treatment required and returning you home ‒ which is called repatriation ‒ because you have the virus (should this be necessary).

You may also be covered if you have to extend your stay before you’re allowed to head home.

Similarly, if you need to cut a trip short because of a positive test then a payout may be available.

What’s not included?

Generally, it won’t protect you if your trip is disrupted by advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) changing due to Covid-19, or if new restrictions are introduced which mean you can’t travel.

However, some insurers offer ‘enhanced’ Covid-19 cover which you’ll need to pay extra for.

This could offer cover even when government advice changes or if you have to cancel a trip because you’ve had a bad reaction to a Covid-19 vaccination.

When it comes to standard travel insurance with Covid-19 cover, there are exclusions to be aware of. If you fail to follow the rules in place at your destination and are turned back, then you won’t be able to make a claim. Similarly, if you take out cover after you’ve already contracted Covid-19 ahead of your trip then you won’t be protected.

As with any insurance policy, it’s important to read the terms and conditions closely to ensure you understand what is and isn’t protected.

What if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it will likely have an impact on the cost of your travel insurance. The reality is that if you have a condition like diabetes, heart disease or have previously had a stroke, then the chances are higher that you may need medical treatment while away.

Providers will consider you to be a higher risk to insure and will want to charge more for your cover, because the probability of needing to pay out on your policy is increased.

While it could be tempting to keep pre-existing conditions quiet to secure a cheaper travel insurance policy, this is a potentially costly gamble.

If something does go wrong on your trip and you need to make a claim, the insurer can void your policy because you withheld vital medical information. This would leave you having to pay for your treatment alone, the costs of which could be enormous.

What else can travel insurance cover?

A good travel insurance policy will cover a host of other aspects related to your trip, beyond medical protection.

For example, travel insurance can offer protection if your journeys are impacted by delays and disruption, or if they’re cancelled.

However, always check whether you’ll receive compensation from the transport provider first, rather than claiming on your travel insurance.

It will also cover your belongings if they’re lost or stolen on your trip.

It might be that your airline loses your suitcase on the journey, leaving you needing to quickly get some clothes together, or perhaps losing a wallet or purse to pickpockets.

You should be able to claim money back to cover the cost of replacing those items. Be sure to keep all receipts for replacements items, as it's likely they'll be needed when making a claim.

It’s a good idea to check whether some of your possessions are covered by existing policies, though. For example, your home insurance policy might cover certain items even when they’re outside of the home.

Are there any optional extras I should consider?

Some travel insurers offer additional Covid-related cover.

This will set you back an additional fee but will give you protection for a larger range of circumstances not ordinarily covered by standard travel insurance. These could include:

  • If you have a reaction to a vaccination
  • Missing a scheduled departure or connection while waiting for a Covid-19 test result
  • Compulsory quarantine of your hotel or cruise due to Covid-19
  • Costs incurred as a result of changes to Covid-19 rules at your destination during your trip

There may be extras worth considering for your travel insurance policy that aren’t related to Covid-19, too. For example, certain activities won’t be covered as standard, such as extreme sports or skiing.

What is the latest coronavirus travel advice?

During the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK government introduced restrictions around where Brits could travel, though there are no such limits in place currently.

However, different nations will have their own rules. The government’s website has a full breakdown of travel advice for more than 200 countries and territories, which includes requirements related to the pandemic.

Frequently asked questions

Most travel insurance policies with Covid-19 cover will pay out if you have to cancel your holiday due to contracting the virus beforehand. But your policy must already be in place before you get ill. You won’t be able to claim if you bought the policy and were already testing positive.

You should not fly if you have symptoms. You may be denied boarding if you or someone in your party displays symptoms.

However, if this happens, you may be eligible for a payout from your travel insurance.

Your travel insurance should cover the costs of any medical treatment while on your trip. It will also offer protection if your condition is considered serious enough that you need to be brought back to the UK for medical treatment. Also, if your trip is cut short or if you’re forced to extend your stay as a result of a positive test.

Many travel insurance policies which include Covid-19 protection will offer some cover should you be required to quarantine while abroad. The exact terms will vary between policies however, so it’s important that you check the terms and conditions carefully.

If your policy includes Covid-19 cover you may be able to claim for cancelled excursions or activities due to contracting the virus. However, these excursions will need to have been pre-booked before you tested positive.

Again, different insurers will handle this in different ways so it’s always best to check.

Many travel insurance policies can be extended for a specific period should this be necessary as a result of contracting Covid-19. This will need to be discussed with your insurer as soon as possible.

Generally, travel insurers do not require policyholders to have had the vaccination in order to qualify for cover. However, this isn’t universal so it’s important to check before purchasing cover.

This will vary by insurer. Some will offer annual policies with Covid-19 cover as standard, while others may require you to pay extra for the protection. Always check that you’re happy with the level provided.

Typically, insurers will want to see evidence of a positive lateral flow test (LFT) or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before paying out for a claim on a travel insurance policy.

In this instance you’re unlikely to be covered by standard travel insurance. It’s always important to keep up to date with FCDO advice for your destination so that you understand what may be required for entry.

Generally, insurers will help with any additional costs incurred on your trip if travel plans are changed because you or someone in your party has contracted Covid-19.

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