After the Prime Minister announced the roadmap to ease Britain out of lockdown, many will be tempted to plan and book a getaway this year.
However, with the pandemic still ongoing, consumers heading abroad or taking a staycation will have to carefully consider their travel insurance options.
In fact, just one per cent of travel insurance policies will cover you for cancellation of a trip if there is another lockdown, new research has revealed.
While most products now include cover for Covid-19, there are big differences between what each policy covers, according to financial information experts, Defaqto.
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The research revealed 96 per cent of products will cover medical expenses should travellers catch coronavirus while on holiday.
As there is no free NHS outside the UK and medical care can run to tens of thousands of pounds, this is the most important cover for most travellers.
However, if you are unlucky enough to catch Covid-19 before you travel, only 71 per cent of policies will cover your cancellation costs.
This means that if you have a policy that does not include cover, you could be left to foot the bill for your whole holiday if you fall ill with the virus.
Those who are formally told to isolate, for example through NHS Test and Trace, will have to cancel their travel plans even if they are not ill themselves.
In this situation, just 34 per cent of policies will cover cancellation costs should travellers be told to isolate and therefore be unable to travel as planned.
Importantly, the majority of policies – 99 per cent – will not cover cancellation costs should the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advice change after booking your trip but before you travel.
|Cover Provided as Standard (%)||Annual Multi Trip||Single Trip||Extended Stay||Average|
|COVID-19 Medical Covered||96||96||96||96|
|COVID-19 Cancelled Positive Test||71||70||74||72|
|COVID-19 Cancelled Lockdown||1||0||1||1|
|COVID-19 Cancelled Isolate||33||32||38||34|
|COVID-19 Cancelled FCDO Advice||2||1||1||1|
|COVID-19 Cancelled Unable to Stay||43||44||45||44|
|COVID-19 Cancelled Denied Board||18||19||18||18|
|COVID-19 Enforced Stay Denied Board||17||17||15||16|
|COVID-19 Quarantine Abroad||2||2||2||2|
If you get to the airport and then are not allowed to board the plane due to displaying Covid symptoms, you may find you are left to cover the costs.
Just 18 per cent will cover you if you are denied boarding on your outbound journey and only 16 per cent will cover you if you are denied boarding on your return journey and therefore unable to travel back as intended.
It is not yet clear how airlines and airports will act in this scenario and whether it will be possible to board another flight after being denied boarding for the one you booked.
It may involve an additional stay and potentially quarantining overseas, all of which could become very expensive for the unlucky holidaymaker.
Although Boris Johnson has said he wants this to be the last national lockdown, this is not guaranteed and there is still the possibility of further national, regional and local lockdowns to come, which could potentially impact travel plans.
Today only 1 per cent of policies offer cover for cancellation due to your home location being placed into formal lockdown ahead of travel, down from 7 per cent at the end of 2020.
Providers that currently offer this cover are The True Traveller and Travel Toad, along with those that are generally linked with a Bank Account or Home Insurance policy, such as HSBC, Barclays, FirstDirect, Direct Line and Zurich Private Clients to name a few.
The FCDO is regularly reviewing its advice for overseas travel, which means that your holiday destination could be deemed unsafe for all but essential travel after you book your holiday, forcing you to cancel your plans.
If you catch Covid before you travel, only 72% of policies will cover your cancellation costs
Anna-Marie Duthie, travel insurance expert at Defaqto, said: ‘You can understand why people are rushing to book holidays after almost a year of lockdown.
‘It is still risky though as most countries aren’t allowing foreign visitors and the situation is still very uncertain.
‘If you want to plan a holiday now, you should only book if you are sure you will be able to get a full refund if you are denied entry into the country because their borders are still closed, or because you haven’t had two vaccinations or can’t prove it.
‘Insurers have been quick to develop new products to cover people who want to travel in these uncertain times.
‘Unfortunately, there is no policy that will cover absolutely every eventuality as the situation keeps changing, but it is important to note what factors might impact your holiday plans and where there might be gaps in your cover.
‘The travel industry is keen to get people booking holidays again and many will offer you the option to switch your destination or delay your holiday if you have to cancel due to Covid-19.
‘It is particularly worth booking on a credit card where you can, so you have additional purchase protection.’
Is your EHIC valid?
European Health Insurance Cards are still valid for those who hold them but once they expire travellers will need to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
This offers the same protection as the EHIC but has replaced the original scheme after Brexit.
Both allow state-provided medical treatment if people fall ill or have an accident in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
It will cover chronic or existing illnesses, routine maternity care and emergencies but specialised treatment, such as dialysis, will require ‘a prior agreement’ to make sure it is available.
As before, there is no provision for taking you home free of charge if you fall seriously ill or suffer a serious accident. Only travel insurance will cover that.
Those who do not have an EHIC, or it has expired, can apply for a new one on the NHS website.
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