THE coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt travel plans for thousands of holidaymakers so it’s best to get covered if you’re hoping to getaway.
Travellers should make sure they take out an insurance policy that covers them for CovidCredit: Getty
They should also cover you if you test positive for Covid-19 and can no longer go on your holiday, or return because you tested positive abroad.
“Bear in mind that being told to quarantine, either by the NHS app or Test and Trace staff isn’t covered by many policies – roughly half by my very loose count,” explained Martyn James James from consumer complaints site Resolver.
“However, despite all those caveats, you may find your policy covers your immediate family for this too – so make sure you check before you buy.”
It’s worth noting that you won’t be covered if you travel against the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice, which may be different to the Government’s traffic light system.
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But if your trip is cancelled due to changing FCDO advice, you’ll be entitled to an automatic refund from your holiday provider or credit card company depending on how you paid.
Here, we take you through what you need to look out for in a travel insurance policy, including the ones that cover you if you catch Covid.
What to look for in a good travel insurance policy
When taking out an insurance policy you should make sure it offers the right level of cover that you need.
Make sure you’re covered for medical expenses, accidents, lost or damaged items and delays as a minimum.
Policies should also payout for cancellations and missed flights as well as if you need to return home early due to an emergency.
You will also need to make sure the policy covers the value of your trip, otherwise if you have to make a claim you won’t be refunded the full cost of what you paid.
Ensure you’re aware of any excess costs before making a purchase as this is the amount you’ll have to pay before the insurance firm will cough up.
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Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.
You are entitled to a cash refund if it’s cancelled your holiday but many have large delays processing cash or may offer vouchers instead.
If the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to countries or regions, you may also be covered for cancellations by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.
Keep in mind travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCDO advice changed, otherwise you won’t be covered.
If you don’t have travel insurance or the excess on your insurance is so high it’s not worth claiming, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.
Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.
Debit card claims or credit card claims of under £100 may be covered under similar Chargeback guarantees.
Typically, the higher level of protection, the more expensive the policy will be, although this can be reduced with a higher excess.
You may need specialist insurance or to add cover on top of your standard policy if you are going on a cruise, skiing or if you have a medical condition.
Martyn said: “In short, buy cheap, get cheap.
“Go for the most comprehensive policy you can afford and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
“The terms and conditions are often daunting – sometimes around 160 pages anyone – so get the firm to spell out what is and isn’t covered.”
Best providers for Covid cover
We’ve put together a round up of travel insurance providers that offer policies that include Covid-cover.
You should read Which? for a guide to the best travel insurance policies for coronavirus-related cover.
Admiral offers cover if you can’t go on your holiday because you’ve tested positive for Covid-19 up to 14 days before the departure date.
However, you will not be covered if you have been told to to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
Medical costs incurred abroad if you contract coronavirus will be covered too, even in amber list countries as long as you are not travelling against FCDO advise.
Policies with Aviva will cover you if you can’t go on your trip if you test positive for Covid-19 or if you’ve been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate.
Medical costs will also be covered if you contract the virus while you’re abroad, as well as costs associated with quarantining at the airport after a medical assessment.
It will also pay costs for accommodation that customers haven’t been able to use if they have to come home early.
Additional travel and accommodation costs are covered too to let everyone insured under the policy return home, providing a return trip home was booked.
Axa travel insurance offers protection if you can’t go on holiday because you have to self-isolate because you tested positive for coronavirus or have been contacted by NHS Track and Trace.
It will also cover policyholders if they contract the virus while abroad, as long as they’re travelling to an FCDO-approved, amber-list country.
Protection for holidays affected by changing travel advice depends on the level of the policy. Holders are advised to check the small print.
Churchill and Direct Line
Both providers, which are owned by Direct Line Group, will cover you if you have a positive Covid test result that prevents you from going abroad.
You won’t be covered if you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
Trips cut short because of Covid or any quarantining costs abroad will be covered, as long as the country you’re visiting is FCDO approved, even for essential travel only.
Virgin Money travel insurance will cover holidaymakers if they have to cancel their trip due to a positive Covid test result.
They will also cover if you’ve been told by a doctor or medical professional to self-isolate.
The provider will cover medical costs incurred due to contracting Covid abroad and up to £2,000 of additional accommodation expenses if the customers has to extend the trip in order to be treated.
Trips cancelled due to changing travel advice are not covered.
How to claim on your insurance
Before you can make a claim on your insurance, you must try to recoup the costs through your travel or accommadation providers first.
If you paid with credit card, you must also have tried to get a refund from your provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
Your travel insurer will only consider paying out after you’ve been unsuccessful in those routes first.
The insurer you took the policy out with will have a dedicated phone line to call when you need to make a claim.
The details will be given to you when you first buy the policy or you can find them on the insurance firm’s website.
Take the policy number and contact details with you on holiday, as it is recommended to check if you are covered and to make a claim as soon as possible.
There may also be a time limit to make claims within.
Check your policy document and directly with your insurer to confirm if your claim is covered.
They will then send you a claims form or you may be able to download online.
Keep all documents and receipts, as an insurer will ask for proof if you are claiming for cancelled flights, delays – or if you had to buy new clothes as your luggage was lost or stolen.
If you need medical treatment when abroad it is best to contact your insurer first, to check that you are covered and to get them to agree to treatment.
You would often still have to pay first so keep any bills or receipts to get a refund.
There is no set time for how long it takes for your claim to be reviewed and this can depend on the provider and how busy they are.
If you are rejected, you can appeal the decision and complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are still unsatisfied.
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