Coronavirus and travel insurance

Travel insurance and coronavirus – what you need to know

Published on

Find out the latest on travel during coronavirus – as well as getting the right insurance policy to cover you.

Airport


The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) blanket warning against all but essential travel was lifted for some countries on 4 July

  • You can find the full list of countries on the safe ‘travel corridor’ list (deemed to no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for travellers) at the FCDO website
  • However, the FCDO has since removed some countries from the safe travel corridor list. Travellers returning to England from these countries must quarantine for 14 days
  • LATEST: The FCDO is now advising against all non-essential travel to Italy, the Vatican City and San Marino  - this means that travellers returning to the UK from these countries on or after 4am on Sunday 18 October must self-isolate. See the FDCO page for Italy for more details
  • Travellers returning to the UK from Crete on or after 4am on 18 October no longer need to self isolate for two weeks. Scotland and Wales are also lifting restrictions on all Greek islands except Mykonos, bringing them in line with the rest of the UK. See our map below for full details
  • Transport secretary, Grant Shapps warns you should only travel if you are content to ‘quarantine unexpectedly’ on your return
  • Travel insurance is available – all providers on MoneySuperMarket’s panel offer emergency medical treatment and repatriation as a result of coronavirus as a minimum

Be sure to check your local area's lockdown restrictions to see if you're permitted to travel abroad.

Heading back to the UK from Greece? Here's where you'll need to quarantine

Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions around how global travel restrictions for the foreseeable future will affect both new and existing travel insurance policies.

FAQs

What's the latest on travel?

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) warning against all but essential travel has been lifted for some countries.

The FCDO has reinstated all-but-essential travel warnings (i.e., removed from the exempt list) to the following countries: Italy, The Vatican City, San MarinoDenmark, Iceland, Slovakia, the Caribbean island of Curacao, Slovenia, GuadeloupePortugal (not Madeira and the Azores), Spain, France, Malta, Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra, Monaco, the Netherlands, Aruba and Turks and the Caicos Islands, Bonaire, St Eustatius and SabaSt Martin and St Maartenthe Bahamas, Austria, Croatia, Poland, Turkey, Trinidad and TobagoJamaica, Switzerland, Czech Republic and the Greek island of Mykonos.

This means that travellers returning from these destinations must quarantine for 14 days on arrival back to the UK.

Quarantine means not going to work, school, or public areas, or having visitors except for essential support.  You will need to provide an address of where you will stay, while fines of breaching quarantine are up to £1,000.

From 4am on 18 October, travellers returning to the UK from Crete will no longer need to quarantine. Scotland and Wales are also lifting restrictions on all Greek islands except Mykonos, bringing them in line with the rest of the UK.

Keep up to date with travel guidance by signing up to FCDO alerts for the country you are planning to travel to.

Can I buy travel insurance – and will it cover coronavirus?

Travel cover is still available from MoneySuperMarket – and every provider on our panel offers emergency medical treatment and repatriation for coronavirus claims as a minimum.

This means you can rest assured you are covered for both for medical treatment and getting back to the UK if you contract coronavirus while you are on holiday.

However, for your policy to be valid, you must not be travelling against FCDO advice. This means you will not be covered in countries that do not feature on the FCDO exempt list.

Will travel insurance still cover cancellations due to coronavirus?

If you are buying a new travel insurance policy, as things stand, most travel insurance providers will still NOT cover cancellations to your holiday as a result of coronavirus.

However, this is starting to change.

The Post Office, Southdowns, Coverwise, Cedar Tree and Coverforyou.com – all listed on MoneySuperMarket – are now among the insurers that WILL cover for cancellation if you cannot travel due to coronavirus (so long as your destination is not listed under the FCDO travel ban) – and more insurers are expected to follow suit as travel rules change.

If you have an existing travel insurance policy and your holiday has been cancelled whether you are covered will depend on your circumstances:

  • If you booked your holiday before the destination was listed by the FCDO you may be able to claim for cancellation, curtailment (coming home early) or rearrangement. However, this may not be for the entire cost, depending on the amount of cover you’ve taken out
  • If you booked your trip after the destination was listed by the FCDO, travel insurers won’t cover you for cancellation

It’s also worth noting that your European Health Insurance card (EHIC) will cover you for the cost of any state-provided healthcare in the EU until 31 December 2020. However, while you should always make sure you take it with you, the card is not a substitute for travel insurance.

What about countries not on the travel exemption list?

If you are having to quarantine on your return from abroad, your travel insurer is unlikely to cover you – for example, for expenses incurred because you had to cancel an event that you can’t attend as you will be isolating.

If you were due to travel to a country no longer on the exemption list and can no longer go because of having to quarantine on your return to the UK, your travel insurance is also unlikely to cover you. Check with the policy provider.

If you choose to cancel your trip based on FCDO advice, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. This is so long as you took it out before the original FCDO blanket travel restrictions were in place.

If you are due to travel and your package holiday has been cancelled, you should be entitled to a full refund from the travel operator.

What can I expect from my existing travel insurance policy?

If your holiday – which you bought before the pandemic – has been cancelled due to coronavirus and you had existing cover, you should be covered. Check to see if it is a member of the Association of British Insurers. Collectively, these insurers have pledged to protect customers – get full details at the ABI website.

Do I get my money back if the airline collapses?

You almost certainly won’t get a refund from the collapsed airline itself. But if your flight was part of an ATOL-protected package holiday, the travel firm you booked with should organise alternative outbound and inbound travel or provide a full refund.

If you made independent arrangements and paid by credit card or debit card, you may be able to recoup the price of your ticket via the chargeback scheme – VISA, Mastercard and American Express all belong to it.

Under the scheme, your card provider will seek a return of your money from Flybe’s payments operator. Your provider will advise you on the process – but they’ll do the legwork on your behalf.

If you paid by credit card (and spent more than £100 on your ticket), you have recourse to a piece of consumer protection regulation known as Section 75. More details here.

If you have spent money on accommodation or car hire or other services and are out of pocket because you have not been able to travel, you should first of all try to get a refund from the business concerned.

If this doesn’t work, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance but only if the policy includes ‘scheduled airline failure’ cover – many do not.

What exactly does essential travel mean?

The lifting of the FCDO’s guidance against all but essential travel applies to all of the countries on this list – but many countries still fall under the travel ban.

What constitutes ‘essential’ travel is limited – for example if you are involved in any kind of freight transport, including by air, ship, road and rail.

Visiting friends and family abroad does not qualify as essential travel.

What happens if I travel anyway?

If you travel against FCDO advice, you’ll render your travel insurance invalid and you won’t be able to make a claim.

In practical terms, you may not be able to return to the UK. If you are able to get back, it’s likely you will have to quarantine in self-isolation for 14 days or face a £1,000 fine.

What if I contract coronavirus while overseas?

If you’re diagnosed with coronavirus before you are able to get home to the UK, you will need to seek medical treatment first. If you fall ill, tell your insurer immediately and they will advise you of your options.

Your travel insurance should meet any medical expenses you incur, provided you did not ignore government travel advice.

You may also be able to claim for additional expenses incurred because of your prolonged stay overseas, such as bed and board for other members of your party.

If you are placed into quarantine abroad, you may also be able to claim for out-of-pocket expenses. And many insurers are paying out for claims for emergency medical and repatriation related to coronavirus. As ever, check with your insurer.

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this article?

  

View all articles >

Popular travel insurance guides

View all guides >