Everything You Need To Know About Travel Insurance Right Now

The last year has taught us many things – not least the important of travel insurance. And with restrictions changing and many companies updating their policies in light of Covid-19, it’s crucial to understand the small print. From changing your policy to making a claim, we asked two experts to answer some common questions.
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What’s the most important thing to consider when choosing travel insurance?

“The most important thing is to ensure you have comprehensive cover. This depends on the type of trip you are planning – for example, if you’re planning a future ski trip, you’ll need to ensure your policy covers such activity, and if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you will have to declare this beforehand. Check Covid-19 policies and exceptions carefully to ensure you understand what you will be covered for. Be sure to check the online reviews for the insurance provider, too.” – Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK.

“Travellers also need to ensure they have adequate insurance for their destination and length of trip. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. According to our research, Brits booking travel insurance say their main priority is cover for general medical expenses. Other priorities include cover for trip cancellations, being returned home in the event of an emergency, or cover for a personal accident.” – spokesperson from battleface Travel Insurance, contributors to The Holiday & Travel Show 2021

What types of Covid-19 cover are companies offering right now?

“Most insurance policies will not cover for Covid-19 related issues if you booked your trip once the pandemic began. When these travel restrictions originally came into play, it meant most policyholders were covered if they were forced to cancel their trip, however for trips that have been booked since the pandemic started, this will not apply with most policies. It’s difficult to find policies that will cover you if you need to cancel a trip if you develop coronavirus, and the policies that do exist are likely to be incredibly expensive. You will need to check your policy carefully to see if pandemic cover is included, and also check how the date of your trip might affect validity of the policy. It’s worth remembering that most policies won’t cover you if you travel against government advice.” – Nicky 

“Most insurers now offer ‘Covid-19 cover’, but some is significantly more comprehensive than others, so you need to check the policy limitations before purchasing. At battleface we provide cover for illness and accidents up to the limit of £5,000,000. We also include cover for emergency medical expenses caused by or resulting from Covid-19 for those who are 59 or under. Should you contract Covid prior to departure and are not able to travel as planned, you are not covered for cancellation under the terms of our policy. However, we remain fully flexible and will offer a full refund as long as you make contact before travelling or on the same day.” – battleface

When should you buy a policy?

“It’s best to book your travel insurance as soon as you book your trip to ensure you’re covered in case your flight is delayed, or you have to cancel your trip. That being said, it’s still possible to get insurance before your holiday begins – just ensure you have it sorted before you leave. However, be sure to check your policy beforehand – some providers will let you buy insurance at the departure gate, whilst others won’t insure you if you’ve already gone through customs.” – Nicky 

How much should you look to spend on adequate insurance?

“We recommend using price comparison sites to compare a wide range of prices. Basic individual policies start at just a few pounds, but most people will aim for more comprehensive policies. A comparison is the best way to check you’re getting good value whichever level of cover you choose. Money Supermarket and Travel Supermarket are good sites to use.” – Nicky

What does travel insurance typically cover?

“Travel insurance can cover anything as minor as a flight delay, to something as serious as major medical assistance. Typically, your insurance should cover trip cancellation, delay and interruption, emergency medical care, travel accident protection, and baggage loss, damage and delay.” – Nicky

In light of changing Covid-19 rules, what should a good policy include?

“Many insurers and travel companies have taken the new global norms into account – meaning that some insurers now offer policies that will cover against cancellations due to a passenger catching Covid and certain travel companies such as Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic are also offering differing levels of multi-risk cover (including Covid) when booking flights with them. These tend not to replace travel insurance (for example if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident during your trip, some of these policies would not cover your expenses, as they’re not related to Covid-19). Some travel companies are also offering flexible booking policies which allow fee-free changes or cancellations, which is incredibly important as changes in both personal circumstances and government restrictions regularly change, often without notice. This offers a degree of protection against the risk the insurers themselves have to take on – so ensure you research this ahead of booking.” – Nicky 

What is the travel traffic light system in the UK and what does it mean? 

“When travel returns this month, the government will use a traffic light system for categorising countries based on their risk levels. The highest risk countries are categorised as red, medium-risk countries are categorised as amber, and the lowest risk countries are categorised as green. Red countries will be an extension of the travel ban list as we’ve come to know it – non-British nationals or residents travelling from red countries will not be permitted to enter the UK. Those who are eligible to travel to the UK will be required to undergo a ten-day quarantine in a government-supervised hotel, which costs £1,750.

“Those arriving from amber countries will be required to undergo a ten-day quarantine at home. They will also be required to undergo two tests during their quarantine: one on day two and one on day eight. Meanwhile, those coming from the lowest risk green countries will not need to quarantine. However, they will still need to test twice: once prior to departure, which can be a lateral flow test, and once post-arrival, which must be a PCR test.” – Nicky 

It’s difficult to find policies that will cover you if you need to cancel a trip if you develop coronavirus, and the policies that do exist are likely to be incredibly expensive.
Nicky Kelvin

Has Brexit affected travel insurance at all?

“No. UK travellers should always make sure they have adequate travel insurance for the country they’re travelling to, including countries in the EU, and this was the case before Brexit. Brexit does however affect the EHIC card. The EHIC entitles holders to state-provided medical treatment if they fall ill or have an accident in any EU country, or in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, where the scheme also applies. As part of the Brexit deal, EHIC cards will remain valid until the expiry date, after which UK travellers should apply for a GHIC – Global Health Insurance Card. They still need to ensure they have the adequate travel insurance too.” – battleface 

Can you get travel insurance if you’re already on holiday?

“Unfortunately, most insurers won’t allow this. There are a few specialist policies that offer post-departure insurance, but they’ll cost significantly more than purchasing beforehand.  This is due to the risk of fraud – meaning your insurer will need to undertake additional checks to ensure legitimacy.” – Nicky 

If you decide to extend your holiday while abroad, can you update your policy to cover the extra dates?

“Each provider is different, and you should contact them to understand their policies. Having a comprehensive annual policy can help combat the issue of moving dates.” – Nicky 

Who needs extra cover?

“Everyone should have relevant and adequate cover for the country they’re travelling to and for the activities that they plan to carry out while there. There are certain sports and pastimes that may not be covered under the policy, or which require an additional insurance product, so it is important to check the terms and conditions of the policy. For example, those intending to practice winter sports while away need to purchase special winter sports cover to ensure they are covered for cold-weather activities during their trip, such as skiing, snowboarding and ice skating. Again, it is really important to check the full policy documents to ensure that the activity is covered.” – battleface 

Should you take out insurance if you’re only travelling within the UK?

“Absolutely. Whether you’re travelling to a destination in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, it’s a good idea to buy UK travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday.” – Nicky 

Everyone should have relevant and adequate cover for the country they’re travelling to and for the activities that they plan to carry out while there.
Spokesperson

If something happens during your holiday, how do you make a claim?

“Hopefully, you will never need to make a claim. But if you do, you must understand the process when deciding on the policy, rather than waiting until you have to make a claim. Here are steps to follow, although your exact course of action will depend on the type of claim you’re making:

  • Keep all your travel documents to hand 

  • Contact your insurer and the relevant authorities as soon as possible

  • Gather evidence you might need to support your claim

  • Tell the truth about what happened, as lying at any point during the process could mean your cover is invalidated” – Nicky

If you need expert advice, who can you talk to?

“In case of emergencies, battleface, along with most reputable travel insurance providers, are available 24/7 via an emergency line who will provide advice about medical providers and the relevant authorities in your destination. We strongly recommend that you give your policy details and/or contact information to your travel companies, friends or family members, in case they need a copy.” – battleface 

What happens if you contract Covid while on holiday?

“If you develop Covid symptoms during your holiday, do not ignore or try to hide your symptoms. It’s important to act quickly to help yourself and protect those around you. In the first instance, follow the advice of local authorities, which can vary from region to region, but you may be required to self-isolate for a set period. You should contact your travel insurance provider before travel to clarify what you are covered for, to provide peace of mind.” – Nicky 

Do the Covid rules differ from country to country? 

“Several travel insurance policies now offer cover for cancellations due to testing positive for the virus, while others offer cover for medical care if you contract Covid-19 while overseas. However, some companies exclude all claims linked to the pandemic and won’t cover you for travel to a high-risk destination or country where the government advises against travel. Some policies also differ in their geographical coverage, for example some cheaper policies do not include cover in the US without paying an additional premium.” – Nicky 

Is there any benefit in buying annual insurance?

“Annual policies cover multiple trips within a year – i.e. where you are returning to the UK and then commencing on another, separate trip. If you travel regularly, you might want to consider an annual policy rather than buying a series of separate policies — it may save you money overall.” – Nicky 

Do children need cover, too?

“There are several insurance providers that will provide travel insurance for a child under 18, whether they're travelling with you, with another adult, or alone. If your child is travelling – especially to another country – you'll want to make sure that if anything happens, there's insurance in place to help with any costs.” – Nicky

What’s the best way to keep up to date with the latest travel advice and restrictions?

“The FCDO is the best place to get the most up to date travel advice for every country. The FCDO advice remains under constant review and can change at any time. You should always check the current travel advice for your destination prior to your trip. Travel disruption is possible worldwide. Countries may bring in new measures at very short notice such as border closures, movement restrictions or quarantine rules. You should be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned and be prepared to quarantine on arrival to the destination or on return to the UK.” – battleface 
 
For more information and advice on travel insurance, visit ThePointsGuyUK.co.uk and battleface.com
 

*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book.

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