What long Covid means for your travel insurance

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
3
minute read
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Posted 14 March 2022

For some people, coronavirus (Covid-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone.

This is sometimes called post-Covid19 syndrome or "long Covid” and can affect anyone, not only those who were seriously unwell or admitted to hospital when they caught it.

The NHS lists several symptoms including extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations and dizziness.

It also includes the likes of rashes, tinnitus and difficulty sleeping, although, due to the fact that there are so many symptoms, it can be hard to diagnose.

But while long Covid is a relatively new condition, it is more common than you’d think; according to figures from the Office of National Statistics, 1.3m people in the UK have been diagnosed.

And while many insurers are quite clear about providing travel insurance if you need to cancel a holiday because you have Covid, the rules around long Covid aren’t as clear.

We did some investigating to find out how the insurance world is reacting to the new condition - here’s what you need to know.

How much protection is available from travel insurers for Covid?

The insurance industry has been forced to react quickly to this fast-moving situation. In the past two years the rules and regulations over travel have constantly changed and policies have had to continually adapt.

When you buy travel insurance, you’ll be told if cover is available for Covid.

There are huge variations here, so it’s worth reading the small print and asking questions before you buy.

One insurer may cover you if you catch Covid and have to cancel your holiday, while another won’t.

You will also want to look at cover if you need to isolate or quarantine, and for how long this is expected.

It’s also important to keep on top of the situation yourself. Just because the rules have relaxed in the UK, this isn’t the case globally. Many countries still have restrictions in place, and you’ll need to find out what these are before you go.

Long Covid is still not being recognised by most travel insurers

Will travel insurance cover you if you have, or have had, long Covid?

Long Covid is still not being named by most travel insurers and according to Defaqto, the statisticians, it’s not been mentioned in any policies so far.

That means insurers are probably looking at long Covid on a case-by-case basis.

Usually with travel insurance you need to declare all pre-existing health conditions. This is because a condition that already exists can increase your level of risk of making a claim on a policy.

It’s important to do this, and to be as open and honest as possible, as if an insurer finds out you missed something, they may reject your claim.

As long Covid is so new, and isn’t being included in policies yet, it’s well worth speaking to an insurer and checking what you are and aren’t covered for.

Brian Brown, spokesperson for Defaqto, explains: “We don’t have anything on long Covid because we haven’t seen any insurers mentioning it in their policies. Particularly because it isn’t necessarily something which most patients have diagnosed at present - lots of people might have ‘it’, but not even know. As such, insurers would find it hard to give, or not give, cover to those who are suffering extended symptoms.

“We have seen an insurer attempt to restrict cover for those customers who have previously had Covid, but again that is problematic because many people have previously had Covid and been totally unaware of it.”

This situation may change, as other areas of the insurance industry have begun including long Covid into their policies. For health insurance, for example, Aviva currently states that it won’t cover long Covid once it’s diagnosed because it is a chronic condition.

What are your options if you’re faced with high prices or rejected by an insurer?

If you’re facing high prices because of a condition like long Covid, there are options.

You could approach a specialist travel insurer or buy a single trip rather than an annual policy which could be a lot cheaper.

But going away without cover is a big risk; if something happens while you’re away, you’ll have to pay any costs.

This is not just for your medical costs, although these tend to be the biggest sums involved here; it’s also for losing any luggage or belongings or if your holiday is cancelled and you have already paid for it.

In other words, declare any condition when taking out a policy.

When it comes to insurance, it’s better safe than sorry.

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Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.