Following the Prime Minister’s roadmap announcement earlier this week, several tour operators have reported a dramatic surge in holiday bookings for the period after 17 May, i.e. “Step 3”. Travel Insurance Explained has also seen a spike in the number of European and UK-specific policies sold for this summer through numerous insurance providers.
With so much conflicting advice about the best time to book a holiday, it is more important than ever that travellers protect their trips with adequate travel insurance as soon as they book their holiday, as many things could happen between now and 17 May which could prevent holidays from going ahead.
It is also important for consumers to understand what they can and cannot expect their travel policy to cover regarding the various ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here Fiona Macrae, head of consumer awareness initiative, travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk, gives holidaymakers the lowdown on exactly what Covid-19 protection should include to best protect their trip:
1. Cancellation cover if you or a member of your travelling party catch Covid-19 before your trip and have to isolate. The UK vaccine programme appears to deliver promising results in tackling the spread of the infection. However, it does not 100% prevent you from catching the virus in a milder form and having to isolate. Therefore, it is important to a policy that includes this cover should you or anyone else listed on the policy test positive for the coronavirus and need to cancel your trip.
2. Cover for medical and repatriation expenses should you catch Covid-19 while abroad. Most travel insurance policies will cover you if you catch Covid-19 while abroad and require emergency medical attention, so long as you did not travel against the government’s advice. However, we would recommend checking that your policy includes this type of cover just for additional peace of mind.
3. Cover for additional expenses should you test positive while abroad and be required to isolate abroad. Since 18 January the government has required arrivals to the UK to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure. Therefore, if you test positive for Covid-19 when returning from your holiday, you will be required to stay at your holiday destination and isolate for up to 14 days. Some insurers will cover expenses, such as additional accommodation or transport costs, should you find yourself in this situation and need to stay longer. However, it’s worth noting that this cover is not standard in the majority of policies so it is definitely worth looking out for. It also may be worded as ‘cover for denied boarding’ in some policies.
Consumers must understand that, at the time of writing, there is no travel insurance cover available that will cover to you cancel your trip as a result of the government changing their travel advice with regards to Covid-19.
This is why holidaymakers should consider booking with a tour operator that is financially protected by ABTA or ATOL and offers flexible cancellation or deferment options. That way, should the trip not go ahead as a result of a change in government advice, the holiday is protected under the Package Travel Regulations Act, and the tour operator is responsible for providing a refund or moving the holiday to a new date.