BIBA Guide to Travel Insurance After Covid-19

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Some very useful info and a handy Q&A section for anyone planning that long awaited summer holiday abroad in this update from The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), who explain the importance of travel insurance.

  • Travel Insurance sector ‘open for business’
  • Cover is essential for peace of mind and much cover is unaffected by Covid-19
  • Insurers are expected to pay more than £275,000,000 in travel claims
  • Speak to an expert insurance broker to make sure you are covered for what you need especially if you have a medical condition, are taking part in unusual activities or plan to travel somewhere outside the quarantine-free countries

Now that the UK Government has announced the countries that will not be subject to quarantine and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office FCO has published the countries that are exempt from its travel advisory notice  the travel industry is expected to see a welcome surge in people wanting to take holidays abroad.

A vital part of any trip is, of course, travel insurance, and many travel insurance providers are also raring to go. Travel insurance can still be found; but now more than ever, it is essential to check that your cover matches your needs.

Graeme Trudgill, Executive Director at BIBA said: “Travel insurance is, in fact, quite complicated and at this time it is more important than ever to make sure you get it right.  A specialist broker can help you get the right cover and BIBA can help you find a broker at www.biba.org.uk.  If you already have a policy, it would be a very good idea to check the wording to see what is and isn’t covered and speak to a specialist broker about what cover is in place for Covid-19.

“Apart from the challenges of Covid-19 you may have specific requirements, such as making sure a particular medical condition or disability is catered for, or that suffering an injury because of a sport or activity while away is included. Many specialist brokers can help you make sure nothing is overlooked.”

Covid-19 has resulted in changes to travel insurance cover with most insurers unable to cover trip cancellation because of the disease in polices bought or for trips booked after March 13 and the pandemic declared.  But that is not a reason to travel without insurance.  Travel insurance polices will still pay out if you have to cancel for other reasons such as an accident or illness unrelated to Covid-19.

Graeme Trudgill explains: “The pandemic is classed as a ‘known event’, and insurance is for the unexpected.  Your policy will still protect you against many holiday mishaps; medical expenses cover for emergency treatment if you fall ill with a different disease or are hurt while away; travel delay,  loss of money and personal possessions; and, to bring you home under medical care if you need it.”

Anyone with a medical condition might have already seen the benefit of speaking to a specialist when arranging travel insurance and BIBA recommends that more people would benefit from this approach at the moment.

One such specialist, AllClear, has already adjusted some of its policies and is ready to offer you cover.  They said:  “Though like other insurers we cannot cover cancellation due to Covid-19 on new policies, we do offer medical expenses cover up to £15 million if you contract Covid-19 on holiday  as well as repatriation costs where it is deemed medically necessary to get you home.  Other Covid-19 benefits on AllClear’s policies include costs for a relative to fly out to be with a recuperating patient and to fly home with them; up to 30 days policy extension to carry on protecting while on holiday if your illness continues after the date of your policy and up to £2k for recuperation costs while away  and costs towards flights home when the patient is fully recovered.”

AllClear is a medical cover specialist and BIBA works with other travel insurance specialists such as Tangiers Insurance, whose Battleface policy (www.battleface.com) can cover trips to destinations still advised against by the FCO  as can other brokers who are expert in the subject. You can find out more by calling 0370 950 1790 or go to www.biba.org.uk

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Insurance Edge reported recently that Saga, Staysure and Free Spirit were all offering various types of Covid-19 related cover. This generally DOES NOT incude trip cancellation due to lockdowns being declared. But it can prove useful if a localised outbreak occurs while you are in a foreign country, including covering the costs of getting home.

The British public has waited a long time to travel again and it is right that the insurance sector will look to do as much as possible to help you keep your trips worry free.

Question and Answers

 I have heard I cannot get travel insurance now because of Covid-19 is that true?

 A Though not all travel insurance is the same many policies bought after March 13 2020 when a pandemic was declared will have exclusions around Covid-19.  Most of these exclusions will relate to cancelling your holiday. You can get cover with some providers for medical expenses if you become ill due to Covid-19 while abroad as well as falling ill through other causes or having an accident while you are away; lost possessions or documents and travel delay. Check with your provider what is included before you buy. A BIBA broker can help advise you on your options. It is worth remembering that the situation is developing quickly and its is always wise to check the current position with your insurance broker or provider.

If I have to cancel my holiday because I have Covid-19 or I have been told to self-isolate (before I travel) can I claim on my insurance?

 A In the first instance you may wish to speak to your travel agent if you have one. Currently there is very little cover available for cancellation because of Covid-19 on travel insurance policies bought or renewed after March 13 2020 when the pandemic was declared. Speak to your insurance broker or provider to check the situation.

What if I catch Covid-19 while on holiday?

 Some specialist providers of insurance do recognise that this worries many people so have included cover that will pay for your medical treatment, repatriation, recuperation and to fly a relative to be with you should this happen while you are away.  Call BIBA on 0370 950 1790 to speak to an insurance broker about getting this sort of cover.

holiday leave is a HR issue for insurers and brokers

What if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 where I am on holiday and I am forced to isolate there?

A Again all policies vary. Insurers that are members of the ABI have committed to continuing your cover in these circumstances and will cover you if you fall ill or lose your belongings etc. Some will pay for and irrecoverable additional costs you have because of being forced to stay at your holiday location and to rearrange your travel home, but in the first instance you would need to speak to your holiday operator if you have one to help you with the arrangements.  If this happens call your travel company if you used one or call your insurance provider.

What if I’m forced to quarantine before my trip because of Track and Trace?

A  Most insurance policies would treat this as being caused by Covid-19 and so cancellation of your trip will not be covered and you will need to speak to your travel operator to rearrange. The situation may be different if your policy was bought before 13 March for a trip booked before that date.  In any case you should ask your travel insurance provider or broker it the policy can be extended to cover a rearranged trip.

Why do I need to buy travel insurance if Covid-19 is excluded?

A  Travel insurance is designed to protect you against many things.  You may have to cancel your trip for reasons other than Covid that are covered by the policy and some insurers will pay if you contract Covid-19 while away.  Travel insurance protects you from losing out in many ways such as theft or loss of passports, money or possessions you have taken with you. You can cover any existing medical conditions you have or make sure you can get treatment if you are injured playing sport or doing other activities.

What if I want to travel to a country that is not on the list of countries without quarantine restrictions?

Most travel insurance for holidays even in normal circumstances will only operate if the FCO does not advise against travelling to the country you are visiting.   It is always best to check the FCO website at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice  and then seek insurance advice.

A few specialist insurance brokers can access cover for travel against FCO advice such as BIBA member Tangiers Insurance. Details of their Battleface product  are here www.battleface.com.

You can find a broker to discuss your travel insurance at www.biba.org.uk.

Should you have to travel for a family emergency or funeral you may also want to speak to your travel insurer or broker insurers might consider cover on a case by case basis and potentially offer specific cover elements.

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Will I be covered if I travel to a country on the quarantine free list announced by UK Government ?

 The FCO similarly lifted its advisory guidance against travel to those countries from 4 July so your travel insurance your cover will operate subject its terms and conditions. For example, Covid-19 related claims on many policies may only be considered for emergency medical expenses not for cancellation or disruptions.  We would always advise to check with your insurance provider before travelling.

What if I want to travel by ferry or road, for example through France to Spain?

The FCO changed its advice for France and Spain as well as other European countries. This is not qualified to permitting air travel only so travel insurance subject to the policies terms and conditions will operate

Would a Covid induced travel disruption claim be paid e.g. missed departure if checks at the airport and other Covid related complications took a long time?

 This is a developing consideration while new scenarios caused by disruption are identified.  Most travel insurers that are offering Covid-19 cover do so for medical emergency expenses cover only and this would be seen as trip disruption so not covered. It is an evolving situation and the industry is reviewing cover benefits continuously to try to cover as many scenarios as possible.

 If I bought my holiday before the 13th March for a holiday in September and my annual travel policy expires in July, can I renew that policy and be covered for Covid claims for the September holiday?

 A Many insurers have said they would cover this provided that when the annual travel insurance policy expired, it was renewed immediately meaning there was no break in cover.

What if I buy a holiday today to travel in September and my annual travel policy renewed in June?

 A  Because the trip had been booked while the pandemic is a known event, most of the cover will not include Covid-19, though it is likely to include cover for medical expenses or repatriation if you fall ill with COVID while away. Check with your insurance broker.

Why is it so difficult to get cancellation cover?

Since the pandemic was declared Covid-19 became a known event and the risks were too difficult for insurers to assess and provide cover for.  Though cancellation cover relating to Covid-19 is still not widely available there are more and more positive signs that cover could be available for cancellation in the not too distant future. The FCO advice is also being continually reviewed and should be checked regularly.

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