Test and release scheme: Why Brits should NOT travel against FCDO advice
27 November 2020
As Lockdown 2.0 comes to an end and the UK government introduces a new ‘test and release’ scheme, a fortnight in the sun or a week on the slopes sounds like the perfect excuse to tackle the cabin fever we’ve all experienced.
While British tourists will be able to halve the amount of time they’re required to quarantine from December 15, it is important to remember that those who travel against the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice may not be covered by their travel insurance provider.
Fiona Macrae, travel insurance expert from the consumer awareness initiative travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk answers common questions associated with travelling against FCDO advice and explains why British tourists may not be covered by their insurer if they ignore the advice.
What happens if I decide to travel against FCDO advice?
Those who travel against the FCDO’s advice should be aware that there are risks.
Firstly, the majority of travel insurance providers won’t cover any claims submitted as a result of travelling against FCDO advice – even if the claim is not directly linked to COVID-19. This is because travelling against FCDO advice is simply excluded from most travel insurance policies.
Secondly, if flights are grounded and tourists find themselves stranded abroad, as we saw at the start of the pandemic, in most circumstances they won’t be covered for any additional expense incurred such as accommodation or food costs, leaving holidaymakers with a hefty holiday bill.
There have also been reports of hospitals abroad turning British patients away as they are simply overwhelmed with their own residents suffering from COVID-19.
Lastly, it’s not only tourists that have it tough when it comes to navigating around FCDO advice, but travel insurers too. As soon travel restrictions are put in place, it becomes harder for the insurer to logistically bring customers home when in an emergency situation.
Why won’t my insurer cover me if I travel against FCDO advice?
One of the reasons many travel insurers do not cover Brits to travel against FCDO advice is because they simply cannot guarantee that tourists can be helped if something was to go wrong while they’re abroad.
In fact, the point at which the FCDO will advise against travelling to a certain country is when the UK government does not feel it has enough resources to support a large number of UK nationals, should anything happen in that particular country.
The FCDO has made it clear that those who decide to travel against their advice cannot be guaranteed help if a situation arises. Its website states: “Choosing to go to a country against our travel advice may seriously restrict any help we can provide and may also mean that your travel insurance is not valid”.
Why are insurers selling policies to destinations that are not on the corridor list if they won’t cover you?
Many travel insurers cover the region being visited, rather than the individual country. This means that it is the responsibility of the traveller to make sure the country they are visiting is within the travel corridor, as many destinations may fall under one region.
For example, someone buying insurance for a trip to Estonia would select ‘Europe’ as their cover region. Estonia is on the travel corridor list and safe to travel to after December 2. However, France would also fall under the ‘Europe’ region but is not on the travel corridor list and would mean the policy would be void. Travel insurers only collect details of the exact country and resort that a customer is visiting in an emergency or if they submit a claim.
However, the UK government permits those who must travel for essential work purposes to travel abroad. Therefore cover must be available for those who have no choice but to travel. Although, those in this scenario should always contact their travel insurance provider ahead of their trip to discuss their reasons for travel and agree cover.
There some policies that do allow holidaymakers to travel against FCDO advice. Should I buy one of these?
While there are a couple of providers offering cover to travel against FCDO advice, these policies are generally designed for professionals who travel to countries for work that the FCDO advises against visiting. For example, frontline workers, journalists, filmmakers, medical staff, and aid workers.
Due to the way that these specialist insurers are set up, they are well-equipped to deal with a small number of people in need during a crisis, but cannot support a large number of stranded tourists at one time.
Because of the nature of the policies, many also come with a large number of exclusions, including no cover at all for those over a certain age, age restrictions on who can claim for costs related to a COVID-19 diagnosis; no cover for those with pre-existing medical conditions; and no cover for any claims that related to a mental health condition. For this reason, we always recommend that people double-check their policy wordings to make sure the policy suits their exact needs.
It’s also important to know that while these types of policies offer cover for medical costs, should holidaymakers fall ill while abroad, they do not provide cover if you need to cancel your trip as a result of catching COVID-19.
They also generally do not cover claims for denial of boarding, should you have a high temperature at the airport and be refused boarding due to a suspected case of COVID-19, and it won’t cover any claims related to quarantine or isolation restriction while on holiday.
What happens if FCDO changes their advice on the country I am due to visit after December 2?
Those who arrive at their destination before the FCDO changed their advice will most likely remain covered until they return home.
However, anyone on an extended holiday, longer than 28 days, would be expected to make every effort to return home early as staying away for a long period of time could void the policy. We would advise anyone on a longer holiday to contact their travel insurance provider and discuss their options.
– Ends –
For further information, please contact:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7280 0642
Mob: +44 (0)7823 555 673
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.