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Will my travel insurance cover claims related to COVID-19?

Is there finally light at the end of this narrow, dark, coronavirus tunnel?! Will we finally be able to book a long overdue break away for some deserved R&R? This article highlights what information you need to look out for and what questions you may want the answers to before choosing a travel insurance provider.

Virus molecules
Coverages on policies are changing as insurers get to grips with COVID-19

As Which? highlighted in a recent survey of 2,800 travel insurance customers, there was a huge divide between what customers thought was covered and what they were covered for in reality.

What protection do I get for Covid-19 or any other pandemic when I travel abroad?

This is a question on traveller's minds. Insurers themselves aren’t yet fully aware of all the risks and will be testing what cover to offer and what to exclude as they go. The cover on offer is likely to change once providers have a better understanding of how the coverage performs, before making further changes in cover at a later date. It wasn't that long ago that some of the most well-known insurance providers actually stopped offering new policies as a result of COVID-19. Therefore, it's so important to review what COVID-19 and pandemic cover in general you get before you book or depart on any new trip.

There are key COVID-19 protection questions worth considering and checking with the provider:

1) Are you covered for cancellation if you test positive for COVID-19? It is also worth checking if this comes with a timeframe i.e. 28,14 or 7 days before departure.

2) Are you covered if a close relative passes away after testing positive for COVID-19 and you need to cancel your trip? ‘Close relative’ can often be a definition so worth cross referencing this information. (For further information, see our; 'Why are definitions used in insurance so important?' article)

3) Are you covered for cancellation if you need to quarantine and this prevents you setting off on your planned departure date? This could be either following a positive test result or a 'ping' notification from NHS Test and Trace.

4) Are you covered for cancellation if the person you planned on staying with needs to quarantine as a result of a positive COVID-19 test?

5) Are you covered for further accommodation and alternative travel home if you test positive whilst on your trip?

6) Are you covered for emergency medical cover and repatriation for coronavirus while away?

It may be useful to ask further questions based on your individual circumstances but these are a good place to start. If you are ever unsure, make sure you get in contact with the insurance provider directly. Insurers have been reminded of their obligation to ensure customer communication is clear, fair and not misleading.

You should be able to find the answers to these questions in the policy information at the point of quote. If you need to call the insurer to ask more questions or to clarify specific points, we may have their direct telephone number listed on our Phone Numbers page.

Some other points to consider

It is also important to always check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and your local government travel advice before you book a trip or before you go. Some insurers won’t offer cover if you travel against this advice.

Insurers may mention in their policy wording that they need you to recover costs elsewhere if it is appropriate. Let's say you booked a flight to Fiji, paid for the flight on a credit card and also purchased travel insurance. On the day you were set to go, the flight operator had cancelled the flight for an unknown COVID-19 disruption-related reason. It would be expected that you try recover your costs from the flight operator initially, then your credit card company, before finally submitting a claim with your travel insurer. An insurer is unlikely to deal with your flight cancellation claim until you have carried out these steps and you can evidence you have done so.

What does this mean for the future?

The truth is, nobody really knows. We are coming up to the winter months and the next 12 months will be key. will be keeping an eye on developments so check back regularly for more news.

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