Covid travel insurance

What does the COVID-19 pandemic mean to holidaymakers and how is the outbreak affecting insurance policies? Read on to find out more.

What does the COVID-19 pandemic mean to holidaymakers and how is the outbreak affecting insurance policies? Read on to find out more.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
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Last Updated 14 APRIL 2022

What does coronavirus travel insurance cover?

Whether you’re excited to get on a plane again and see new horizons, or you’re planning a break in the UK, here’s what travel insurance with coronavirus cover can offer you.

Cancellation cover before you set off

You can find covid travel insurance cancellation cover that will protect you for forced cancellation. For example, if:

  • You have coronavirus within 14 days of setting off (but you’ll need medical evidence to be able to claim)
  • You’re denied boarding a plane because you show symptoms
  • One of your travelling companions or close relatives fall ill with covid.

Cover while you’re away

With covid travel insurance, you may be able to claim:

  • If you become ill or have a medical emergency
  • For being brought back home – with a medical escort, if this is considered necessary
  • For accommodation or travel expenses, if you have a forced extended stay because of illness or a positive test
  • If you have to cut short your holiday – for example, if a close family member is hospitalised or dies from coronavirus while you’re away
  • For unused, non-refundable, pre-booked excursion costs where you’re ordered to self-isolate due to contracting COVID-19.

If you compare travel insurance with us, you can filter your comparison results by ticking a box to see policies that offer cover for:

  • Forced cancellation
  • Medical expenses and repatriation
  • Forced extended stay

Then check the policy documents to see exactly what COVID-19 cover is offered. Just select the “More details” button and scroll down for “Full cover details”, which will open in a new browser tab. Take a close look at the policy to make sure it offers you the cover you want; not all policies offer the same level of cover.

What isn’t covered?

Like all travel insurance, you won’t be covered if you travel to a destination against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice. If the FCDO advises essential travel only, you may have to provide proof that your travel was essential. No matter how much you feel you need a holiday, that won’t be classed as ‘essential’. 

You can check FCDO advice on a country-by-country basis at GOV.UK. You can easily sign up to get email alerts about any changes.

Other things that won’t be covered include:

  • Changing your mind about travelling because of levels of COVID-19 at your destination or because you don’t want to quarantine on your return if the rules change 
  • Being turned back at the border because you haven’t followed rules correctly
  • Making a claim having bought a policy after testing positive for COVID-19
  • The cost of any tests you’re required to take either in the UK or at your destination
  • Quarantine costs (including lost earnings) on return to the UK 
  • Travel or accommodation costs where a credit or voucher has been provided instead of a cash refund
  • Where you’re legally entitled to a refund in the form of cash or a voucher from your airline and/or travel provider.

Please be aware that some policies now state that if you’ve chosen not to have the recommended vaccinations, then you won’t be covered for any COVID-19 related claims. This includes cancellation, curtailment or emergency medical and repatriation expenses.

What else can travel insurance cover you for?

Pre-existing conditions

Even if you have pre-existing conditions, travel insurance should still cover you for COVID-19, as long as you declared the conditions when you took out your policy.

Find out more

Travel insurance for UK breaks

Coronavirus travel insurance should cover you for cancellation or having to cut short your holiday due to COVID-19 if you’re staying in the UK. Typically, you’ll need to have pre-booked and paid for at least two consecutive nights of accommodation.

Find out more

Travel insurance will also cover you for:

But travel insurance won’t cover you as standard for natural disasters, terrorism or accidents that happen under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Check your policy for any exclusions so you know exactly what isn’t covered.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Important Information

Please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home.

You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

See the latest public health rules for:

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions.

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

Will my travel insurance cover me if I go to an affected region?

If you buy your insurance policy to cover a trip to a destination where the FCDO is advising against travel for your planned dates, then it’s likely that you won’t be covered. If you’ve already bought insurance and the FCDO subsequently changes its advice for your destination, then you might have some cover, but you’ll need to check with your insurance provider and possibly make a claim if you have to cancel.

For those living in the UK, you must follow the FCDO advice for your destination, as well as any restrictions imposed by your local devolved authority.

It’s also unlikely that even policies including additional COVID-19 cover will cover you for the costs of a stay in a Government-mandated hotel if you have to quarantine on your return to the UK if and when that requirement is in place. Check with your insurance provider.

Get country-specific travel advice from the FCDO.

What our expert says…

“The pandemic has changed the types of cover offered by insurance providers and people should consider the differences between policies when buying travel insurance. Some policies may offer cover for COVID-19 related disruption, but some providers don’t currently offer it. When buying a travel insurance policy, it’s crucial to read the details carefully to ensure you know what you’re covered for.”

- Josh Daniels, Head of Travel Insurance

Frequently asked questions

If I cancel my trip, will a travel insurance claim cover my costs?

It depends on the reason for cancellation. For example, if you become ill with COVID-19 and have to cancel then you should be covered, provided you’ve opted for a policy with coronavirus cover.

On the other hand, if the FCDO’s advice is that travel to a particular place is safe but you decide you don’t want to risk going there, your decision would likely be classed as “disinclination to travel”. It’s likely that you wouldn’t be covered by insurance.

Similarly, if you decided not to travel because of the risk of self-isolation or quarantine rules coming into effect, it may also be regarded as “disinclination to travel”. If you have any concerns, then you should contact your insurance provider to understand your cover.

Can I add disruption cover to my existing policy?

This will depend on the individual travel insurance provider. You’ll need to contact them to ask.

Will the airline refund me if my flight is cancelled?

Yes, they should offer you a full refund or the chance to arrange an alternative flight to the same destination, but you may not be entitled to any other compensation.

Of course, you may have paid out for other things, like hotels, which you might be able to claim for on your travel insurance.

What if my airline cancels a flight to an area which doesn’t have ‘no travel’ advice?

In this case, you should still be entitled to a refund or an alternative flight to the same destination from your airline.

I have travel booked overseas. What do I need to check?

Check the latest government advice on travel abroad.

You’ll need to keep checking the FCDO advice for that destination to see what, if any, restrictions are in place. You can sign up for FCDO updates on specific destinations. Also keep checking with your travel provider.

What if I want to go on holiday within the UK?

Each of the UK home nations makes their own rules about travel during the pandemic. See the latest guidance for: 

But as we’ve seen during the pandemic, the situation can change, so we advise you to check restrictions for where you want to travel before you leave.

You can get travel insurance for holidaying in the UK with COVID-19 cover: for example, if you had to cancel because you tested positive in the two weeks before your holiday. But any insurance policy purchased to cover a trip while the devolved authority has instructed citizens not to travel will not be valid.

What should I do if I’m already on holiday in an affected region?

If no travel restrictions existed at the time of travel, you may be required to return to the UK or you may be allowed to continue your holiday and return as planned. Some providers will cover you as standard for both of these occurrences, so it’s important to read the details of any COVID-19 related cover before you buy a policy.

Will I be covered if I’m put in quarantine while abroad?

This varies among insurance providers. Some policies will cover you if your travel home is delayed for reasons out of your control, such as testing positive for COVID-19, and some, but not all, for being refused boarding on a plane. Others might not cover any additional costs at all. You’ll also need to check with your provider to see whether your policy will be automatically extended if you need to stay longer.

When you compare policies with us, tick the box for “forced extended stay” and check the details from the providers you’re considering.

What can I do to protect myself when booking future holidays?

Before you book a holiday, check the holiday provider or airline’s cancellation and refund policy.

Booking using a credit card can give you the chance of getting your money back with credit card purchase protection if your trip is cancelled. But this isn’t automatic. It depends on the terms and conditions of your card provider.

Get travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, to be covered from then on.

Comprehensive travel insurance should be a key consideration when planning a future holiday. Look for a policy that offers cover for COVID-19-related disruption to reimburse costs associated with cancellations, and to protect you if you become unwell and need medical treatment for coronavirus while you’re away.

Can I buy travel insurance if I’m already on holiday?

Although you should arrange cover before you set off, you may be able to buy specialist travel insurance after you’ve departed. Your circumstances and whether you intend to make a claim will be taken into account, and there may be a waiting period to prevent you from making an immediate claim. Compare the Market does not offer comparison for this type of insurance cover.

Can I extend travel insurance if I’m already on holiday?

If you’re having a wonderful time and want to stay longer at your holiday destination, contact your policy provider and ask to extend the policy. You need to do this before your policy expires. You’ll obviously be charged to extend your cover for longer.

If you’ve been forced to stay for longer, for example because you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, ask your insurance provider what you need to do. Some policies will automatically extend if you’re unwell, but check what applies to you.

Will my annual policy cover me for COVID-19?

It depends. You’ll have to check your policy. If covid cover isn’t included in your policy, you may be able to add it. Talk to your insurance provider as soon as you book a break to check what’s possible and to see if you need additional cover.

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