Travel traffic light system decision will give green light to summer holidays
6 May 2021
This week the Government is expected to make its decision on the countries that could be on its ‘green’ list within the proposed travel traffic light system. Speculation that Portugal, Malta, the Canaries and the major Greek islands will be added to the green zones has caused an uptick in holiday bookings and travel insurance purchases.
However, levels of restrictions will still be in place, depending on the Covid-19 risk each country might pose. Travellers should know they can find travel insurance to cover a variety of new risks triggered by the pandemic when travelling abroad.
Fiona Macrae, head of consumer awareness initiative, travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk answers your questions on COVID-19 travel insurance cover:
Will I still need travel insurance with Covid-19 cover if the destination I am travelling to is ‘green’?
Yes. There are many reasons why it is still essential to have travel insurance in place, regardless of what category the holiday destination falls into. Aside from cover for events related to Covid-19, travellers still need protection for all other things that could happen while on holiday such as trip cancellation, lost luggage, and medical expenses.
However, even if a country is deemed ‘green’, holidaymakers will still be required to return to the UK with proof of a negative Covid-19 test before they depart. Should they fail that test, they will need to isolate at the holiday resort or country they are in, pay for additional accommodation, and re-arrange a return flight to the UK. This cover is available under some travel insurance policies. Although, it’s worth noting that it is not offered as standard across the industry.
Will I be covered if I miss my flight due to delays at the airport?
Travel industry experts and the press have speculated heavily that mass queues may form at border control as a result of the requirement to provide further documentation in order to leave the UK and enter most destinations.
Travellers should look for a policy that includes protection against missed departure due to reasons that cannot be foreseen or avoided, such as mass delays. This type of cover should, in most cases, provide cover for alternative transportation in order to help travellers reach their trip destination if something unexpected caused them to miss their flight. However, travellers will need to provide evidence that they took all reasonable steps to ensure that they reached the airport on time and that the missed departure was due to something they could not have anticipated.
Will I be covered to cancel my trip if I am unable to provide the right documentation?
Travellers are now required to provide a passenger locator form, proof of a Covid-19 status, and/or proof of a vaccine in order to leave the UK and enter most countries.
If holidaymakers fail to provide the required evidence, such as proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure, and as a result are refused entry to a destination, in most cases, they will not be covered to claim on their travel insurance policy for any lost costs. It is the responsibility of the traveller to make sure they have the correct documentation to leave and enter their intended destination when travelling.
How do I know if my travel insurance covers me to cancel my trip if I catch Covid-19 before my holiday?
Some travel insurance policies provide cover for cancellation if any of the travelling party catch Covid-19 before they’re due to depart and are legally required to isolate, causing them to miss their trip.
If this cover is available within a policy, it may be worded as follows: “cover if anyone named on the policy contracts Covid-19 within 14 days of their trip starting”. However, the exact wording will vary depending on the travel insurance provider.
How do I know if my travel insurance covers me for medical costs if I catch Covid-19 while on holiday?
The majority of travel insurers now offer cover which includes medical expenses related to the coronavirus. In most cases, the only reason someone would not be covered for medical expenses related to Covid-19 is if they travelled to a destination against government advice.
If this cover is available within a policy, it may be worded as follows: “cover for medical expenses if anyone named on the policy contracts Covid-19 while on holiday (as long as they did not travel against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advice (FCDO)).
Do any travel insurance policies cover trip cancellation due to a change in government advice?
At present, no travel insurance providers offer cancellation cover due to a change in government advice. The reason for this is because financial protection is available elsewhere.
For example, in the event that the government advise against travel and holidays can no longer go ahead, it is generally the responsibility of the tour operator to invite customers to change their travel dates or offer them a full refund. In the event that the individual booked their trip independently (e.g., separate flights and accommodation) and the advice changes, they are able to ask for their money back from their airline, accommodation provider, bank, or credit card company. So, including this type of cover and charging customers would not be seen as fair value on a travel insurance policy, as they can recover their money, for free, elsewhere.
We strongly urge anyone booking a trip (whether in the UK or abroad) to make sure they book with a tour operator that offers flexible cancellation terms and conditions. That way, if the destination they are due to travel is suddenly put in the red zone, they will not lose out financially and may even be able to change their travel dates free of charge for later on in the year.
Is there any other comprehensive travel insurance cover which can be purchased to cover all COVID-19 risks?
Many travel insurance providers offer some form of protection against Covid-19, but the exact cover varies from provider to provider. Therefore, it is down to individuals to research the cover most suitable for their circumstances and choose a policy based on their needs.
We are aware that a small number of travel insurance providers are introducing cancellation cover if holidaymakers come into contact with someone who has Covid-19 before their trip and therefore has to isolate. Before, most insurers would only allow trip cancellation if one of the travelling party caught Covid-19 themselves.
Many UK travellers have also been taking advantage of the low deposit holiday deals offered by tour operators which has led some travel insurers to introduce a new policy specifically for those who have bought a holiday but have only paid the deposit. The cover offered varies between providers, but if a customer has only paid the deposit but is unable to go on holiday before the full balance is due, they are able to claim for cancellation costs, without having to pay any policy excess. Additionally, if they have already paid their holiday balance in full but need to cancel their trip, they will still be covered for cancellation costs but will have to pay their excess.
Travel insurance in general and cover for Covid-19 varies between providers. Therefore, it is essential that holidaymakers take the time to research the different types of cover available and carefully read the policy wording before buying.
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Notes to editors:
Travel Insurance Explained is a multimedia awareness campaign that has been created to be an impartial voice to help you understand travel insurance, so should you need to make a claim you will be delighted with the outcome.
Our goals are:
- To help consumers understand what a policy can and cannot cover
- To explain insurance jargon in everyday terms
- To give consumers the tools they need to ensure they get the most appropriate policy
- To help reduce disputed claims and therefore increase consumers satisfaction
- To match the consumers’ requirements to ensure they are buying a suitable policy for their needs at an appropriate price.