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Holiday insurance with COVID-19 cover

Although the world has opened up for trips abroad, unfortunately coronavirus hasn’t gone away. So does travel insurance cover COVID-19? We answer your questions about how COVID-19 holiday insurance works and how to find a policy.

Although the world has opened up for trips abroad, unfortunately coronavirus hasn’t gone away. So does travel insurance cover COVID-19? We answer your questions about how COVID-19 holiday insurance works and how to find a policy.

Written by
Helen Phipps
Travel insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
17 FEBRUARY 2023
4 min read
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What does coronavirus travel insurance cover?

Covid travel insurance cover can provide: 

Cancellation cover before you set off

Travel insurance that covers COVID-19 can 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-19 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 to extend your 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 have to self-isolate due to contracting COVID-19.

If you compare travel insurance with us, you can filter your results by ticking boxes 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, then the ‘More details’ link next to ‘COVID-19 cover included’. 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 & Development Office (FCDO) advice.  

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
  • 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
  • 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 state that if you’ve chosen not to have the recommended vaccinations, then you won’t be covered for any COVID-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.

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.

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. 

Get the latest COVID-19 information before you travel

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.

See the latest public health information for:

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

Author image Helen Phipps

What our expert says...

“Many travel insurance policies offer cover for COVID-19-related disruption, but exactly what that includes varies. For example, some policies cover you if you’re denied boarding on a plane or cruise ship because of COVID, while some won’t. When buying a travel insurance policy, it’s crucial to read the details carefully to make sure you know exactly what you’re covered for.” 

- Helen Phipps, Insurance comparison expert at Compare the Market

Frequently asked questions

Can I cancel my holiday due to COVID-19?

You can cancel, but your travel insurance won’t necessarily pay out. 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.

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.

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. Some, but not all, will cover you 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?

You may be able to buy travel insurance if you’ve left home but haven’t yet left the UK. It depends on the provider. If you’re already abroad you’ll need specialist insurance and there may be a waiting period to prevent you from making an immediate claim.

Comparethemarket doesn’t compare 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.

What are the benefits of getting annual travel insurance with COVID-19 cover?

Having annual travel insurance can work out cheaper if you take more than one trip a year. It also saves you from having to buy a new policy each time you go away. If you choose an annual policy that includes COVID-19 cover, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’ll be covered for COVID-related disruption for all your trips.

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Helen Phipps - insurance expert

Having worked in both sides of the industry, Helen’s a real insurance expert. She’s worked directly with several insurance providers and now Compare the Market. She’s always searching for the cheapest prices for customers and is passionate about saving people money. Being married with two kids, Helen knows all about the cost of living and the benefits of having the right products and insurance for the whole family.

Learn more about Helen

Rebecca Goodman - Insurance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca