Does your insurance cover you for Covid?

Many travel insurers offer little coronavirus cover, says Paul Lewis

Mature woman hiker on Black Hill (The Cat's Back) in the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons national park

Travel insurance is supposed to pay for losses during your trip or medical treatment you might need while you’re away. It also reimburses you if you cannot go on the trip in the first place. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has added a murky layer of complexity to these provisions.

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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) now advises against “all but essential” travel to the whole world except for a list of about 60 places that are exempted. They change from time to time. If you travel to a country that is not on that exempt list, your travel insurance will normally be invalidated. However, if you are travelling for an essential reason – which does not include “I really need a holiday!” – ask your insurer if you will be covered.

You might expect that if you had a trip booked to a country where the official advice was not to go, then your travel insurance would reimburse your costs if you stayed in the UK. But no. From 13 March 2020, coronavirus was what insurers call “a known event”, which insurance will not cover. So if you took out your insurance or booked a trip from around that date (it varies from insurer to insurer), you will not be covered for any cancellations due to Covid-19.

If you had insurance and booked the trip before that, you’ll probably be covered if things go wrong while you’re abroad in an exempt country – though medical costs for Covid-19 may not be. If you have a trip booked to a country to which travel is allowed but you decide it’s too risky to go, your insurer won’t refund your costs. If you’ve booked a trip to a country that is on the exempt list but isn’t allowing entry to foreign visitors, your insurer may or may not reimburse your costs.

In July, some insurers did start selling travel insurance that covers some low-cost consequences of Covid-19.  In some cases you may be able to claim instead from your creditor debit-card provider or, if you booked through a travel agent, through ABTA or ATOL.

For more information, search “all but essential” on gov.uk, see claims.abta.com and look on your search engine for “ATOL claims”.

Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4

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