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Holidaymakers warned over varying Covid travel insurance cover

John Fitzsimons
Written By:
John Fitzsimons

There are significant differences between precisely what Covid-19 cover different travel insurance policies offer, Defaqto has warned.

The financial information website has analysed the various travel insurance policies currently on the market, and found that a whopping 96% will cover medical expenses should travellers catch Covid-19 while on their trip. Given that this medical care can run into the thousands, it emphasised that this is the most important cover for most holidaymakers.

However, there is far more variance in how policies handle the situation if you fall ill before heading off on your trip. Fewer than three quarters (72%) of policies will cover cancellation costs if you test positive before your holiday, which could mean you have to foot the entire bill if you are ill.

This drops to just a third (34%) of policies that provide cover of cancellation costs if the policyholder is told to isolate, even if they do not have symptoms themselves.

Along similar lines, if you get to the airport and then are prevented from boarding as you are now displaying symptoms, less than one in five (18%) policies will cover you for your outbound journey, and dropping to 16% for those affected on the return journey. This could prove particularly expensive given you may need to quarantine in a hotel for an unspecified period before having to buy another ticket for a flight home.

What’s more, while the government has said it wants this to be the final national lockdown, this cannot be guaranteed so there is at least still a chance of further lockdowns in the future. Yet just 1% of policies offer cover for cancellation should your home location be placed into a formal lockdown. This is down from 7% of policies at the end of 2020.

Anna-Marie Duthie, travel insurance expert at Defaqto, said it was understandable that people were now rushing to book holidays after almost a year of various lockdown measures, though emphasised the situation remains very uncertain. 

She continued: “Insurers have been quick to develop new products to cover people who want to travel in these uncertain times. Unfortunately, there is no policy that will cover absolutely every eventuality as the situation keeps changing, but it is important to note what factors might impact your holiday plans and where there might be gaps in your cover. 

“The travel industry is keen to get people booking holidays again and many will offer you the option to switch your destination or delay your holiday if you have to cancel due to Covid-19. It is particularly worth booking on a credit card where you can, so you have additional purchase protection.”

Can I book a holiday?

Yesterday the government outlined its roadmap for getting the nation out of lockdown, and while it is optimistic that holidays can start again this year, it remains far from certain. It had previously been criticised for the mixed messaging over holidays, leaving would-be travellers unsure of whether they were even allowed to book a break for this year.

There is also some evidence that some holiday firms are cashing in on the swelling demand by hiking prices for holidays