The Travel Insurance product on TravelSupermarket was recently put back online. Following on from this, the TravelSupermarket travel commentator, Emma Coulhurt, has released an update on booking holidays during these unpredictable times. In alignment with Emma Coulhurt's suggestions, we invite affiliates to share this content with their users and encourage the importance of Travel Insurance around COVID-19.
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How risky is it to book a holiday?
Holiday and travel insurance myths and facts in a covid world
Emma Coulthurst, travel commentator from holiday price comparison site, TravelSupermarket:
Is it right that travel insurers are not currently selling travel insurance?
Back in March, a lot of providers removed themselves from the market, to review their stance and redevelop their policies. Now there are travel insurers selling policies again. Currently, there are around 12 providers on TravelSupermarket’s platform, who you can compare prices for and click through to buy policies with. And there are more policies going live every day.
If I am booking a holiday and need to purchase a new travel insurance policy, is it right that I won’t be covered if I contract covid while on holiday and need medical treatment?
This is likely to be one of the things on holidaymakers’ minds as to whether to book a holiday or not. All of the providers, which are currently live on TravelSupermarket’s price comparison panel, cover ‘’Emergency medical & repatriation’’ for Covid-19 if you were to contract the virus on holiday. This means that you will be covered for medical treatment and be brought home, if needed, to have further medical treatment back in the UK.
If your policy was bought before Covid19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11, or if you’ve renewed your annual policy since March 11, then annual travel insurance should cover you for events relating to coronavirus as long as you would have been covered beforehand.
Also, for any EU holidays this year, make sure your EHIC card is up to date and take it with you to access reciprocal free health care. The card is valid until at least the end of the year and the UK Government needs to confirm what will happen after that.
Will I be able to cancel my holiday and get my money back via my travel insurance policy, if I contract coronavirus before going and need to self-isolate?
If you need to get new insurance, there are some insurers, who will cover you, if you contract covid and cannot travel. Comparing insurance policies via TravelSupermarket, there are four providers who have confirmed that they will provide cover for this; Coverwise, Southdowns, Cedertree and Cover for You.
For a policy bought before 11 March, you should be able to claim for cancellation, even if it is an annual policy which you have renewed since then. If your travel insurance policy covers a pre-existing medical condition that makes you more vulnerable to Covid-19, you also may be able to claim.
It is also worth bearing in mind that many airlines and holiday providers are offering flexible booking policies which allow you to move holidays and flights to different dates without a change fee. There is often a timeframe within which you need to do this without incurring a fee. Each airline will have its own policy. Be sure to understand the company’s Tcs and Cs’s before you go ahead and book a flight or holiday. Then you can be comfortable with what you are signing up to and what parameters you need to work within.
The travel industry has seen planes grounded and many airlines and companies furloughing staff and announcing redundancies. Can I get cover to protect me in case my airline goes bust?
End supplier failure covers you if an airline folds. It isn’t normally included within a policy but needs to be requested as an add-on. Many providers exclude a pandemic from this cover and therefore airlines going bust at this time might not be covered.
If your airline was to go into administration, another option is to try and claim for a refund through your debit and credit card company via the voluntary chargeback scheme. Also, if your flight cost you more than £100 and you paid for at least £1 of it on a credit card (it is always recommended to pay on a credit card for goods costing more than £100, for the extra consumer protection it provides), you can claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act as the card provider is jointly liable with the airline for any goods or services not received.
What should you do if your trip is cancelled by the holiday provider or airline?
Your first port of call should be with the company you booked with; your airline or tour operator or accommodation provider. If you are not getting confirmation from your travel provider of when it will pay your refund, check with your travel insurer to see if they will pay out. It will depend on the details of your policy. However, most are likely to refer you back to the travel provider or airline. Just a reminder that under EU law 261, you are entitled to a refund on any cancelled flight within 7 days and this is set to continue once we’ve officially left the EU as this right is enshrined in UK law. Under the Package Travel Regulations, you are entitled to a refund within 14 days of the package holiday being cancelled.
If your travel dates move and you rebook, your travel insurance provider should look to change your single trip policy to match the new dates without charging you an admin fee. The date of the rebooked trip needs to be within 12 months and the holiday needs to be like for like. If your trip is different (e.g. destination or duration of trip) or if there has been a change to your health, you may have to pay more.
Can I get a refund for a travel insurance policy, which I can no longer use as my holiday has been cancelled?
Major travel insurers are offering pro-rata refunds to customers, whose holidays have been cancelled as long as you haven't made any claim on the policy. But you'll need to request a refund to get one – and should only do this if you're certain you no longer need the cover. And if you think you might want to book a trip in the near future, consider carefully if it's worth keeping your policy anyway – getting new travel insurance can be tricky at the moment, with many providers no longer taking on new customers.
If you booked your insurance within the last 14 days, then you've the right to cancel the policy under 'cooling off' rules – though firms can charge an administration fee.
There are loads of great holiday deals at the moment. But I’m worried about booking in case the advice for a country changes and I have to quarantine on arrival or on my return. What should I bear in mind before booking?
Leading tour operators have said that they will not take you on a package holiday to a country, where you have to quarantine, either on your arrival or on your return. They have said that they will cancel holidays in this situation and you would then be legally entitled to a refund.
However, if you had booked a flight on its own and it wasn't cancelled and went ahead, you won’t be able to get your money back unless you have ‘cancel for any reason’ as part of your travel insurance. You will need to move your flight to a future date, in the hope that the FCO advice will not be in place for your rebooked date. Many of the airlines are waiving change fees at the moment due to the uncertainty. But be aware that, to qualify for a free change, you often need to do it a certain number of days beforehand; in the case of easyJet, for example, it is 14 days before. Many airlines are also offering vouchers if you can’t fly.
Book on a credit card. If the item costs more than £100, you then have consumer protection under both the voluntary chargeback scheme (which is worth trying first) but also the Consumer Credit Act, Section 75 which means that the card holder is jointly liable with the retailer for any goods and services not received. It provides an extra route for getting your money back on any cancelled holidays or flights if you're not getting it back from the provider.
I’m worried about being quarantined while I’m away or getting stuck if there is an outbreak. Will I be covered?
If you are quarantined while you are away, causing you to miss flights. Or you have to stay in a hotel longer than expected.
Talk to your travel company and airline and check your travel insurance documents carefully to see what you are entitled to. Every insurance policy is different, so check your individual policy’s travel delay section. Some providers will cover claims made for missed excursions etc. when you have to quarantine or self-isolate on a standard policy. Sometimes you will need to take out a Trip disruption cover extension, to get this covered.
What should you look for when buying your travel insurance?
TravelSupermarket is a price comparison site but we advocate against you just automatically going with the cheapest policy. To save money but also ensure the right cover for your needs, compare and choose the policy which covers all of your requirements, whether you’re skiing or hiking at 3000FT. A decent policy only costs a small amount more than the cheapest deals, which are out there on the market, so buying the lowest price deal really is a false economy.
Higher levels of cover give greater peace of mind and usually have lower excess levels, if needing to make a claim. When comparing travel insurance products, TravelSupermarket recommends the following minimum levels of cover:
- £2m for medical expenses
- £1m personal liability
- £1500 cancellation - or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
- £750 baggage – or enough to cover the cost of your baggage
- £250 for cash
- Policy excesses under £100
- Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours).
TravelSupermarket recommends that your excess is no more than £100. It is worth enquiring how much it costs to waive the excess so that you don’t pay any excess at all to make a claim; sometimes, it is just a few pounds extra.
If you follow these recommended cover levels and compare online, you’ll get the right cover for you at the best price, with the peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, you’ve got good quality cover.
Once you’ve found a policy that works for you, however boring it may seem, it is worth spending 15 minutes reading through the policy to help you understand how it works should anything go wrong while you are away. If you find that your policy is unsuitable for your needs, you can ask for a refund within 14 days of purchase, as long as you have not yet started your trip or made a claim on it. The 14-day cooling off period gives you the chance to cancel and find a replacement that will better meet your needs.