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How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance in 2020 (COVID-19)

Finding travel insurance during COVID-19 is challenging, but not impossible.
Finding travel insurance during COVID-19 is challenging, but not impossible.   -   Copyright  Getty Images
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While it may not be as easy as it once was, finding comprehensive travel insurance is still possible during COVID-19. Below, we answer some of the most common questions on travel insurance cover in 2020, from finding specialist providers for “no-go” destinations to claiming for delays and enforced stays.

Need to know

Do travel insurance companies cover pandemics?

After the WHO announced that the coronavirus was a global pandemic on 11 March, many travel insurance companies said they wouldn’t cover COVID-19-related claims. However, there are still some firms that are covering medical expenses for COVID-19-related incidents while on holiday, provided that the destination isn’t on non-essential travel advisories before departure.

Insurance price comparison website, Compare the Market, said that all the travel insurance policies listed on their website are “likely to cover claims related to COVID-19 for emergency medical and repatriation costs.” However, be aware that not all policies on Compare the Market cover non-medical issues, such as flight or hotel cancellations (see below for more information).

My country doesn’t have a travel corridor with my chosen holiday destination. Will I be able to get travel insurance?

It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible. If you plan to travel to a destination that is not on your country’s approved list of air bridges, most insurance companies won’t cover you. However, there are a handful of specialist providers that are offering insurance to “no-go” destinations during COVID-19, such as Battleface and Wild Frontiers.

What if my government advises against travel to my destination after I’ve arrived? Will my insurance policy become invalid?

If a government removes a destination from its travel corridor list while you’re on holiday (and you bought the insurance before departing), your policy should still stand. Check with your provider before taking out the insurance and only go for a company that is prepared to offer cover in this situation.

Are any travel insurance companies covering trip cancellation or disruption due to COVID-19?

While most companies issuing travel insurance during COVID-19 will cover urgent medical care and repatriation, it’s unlikely that they’ll cover other COVID-related issues such as flight or hotel cancellations. If your package holiday, flights, or accommodation are cancelled due to COVID-19, you can usually request a refund or postpone your trip directly with the airline, hotel, or tour operator anyway.

If I want to cancel my trip because of COVID-19, should my insurance company cover the costs?

It depends. Suppose you knowingly booked a holiday to a destination that was under government non-essential travel advisories and just changed your mind. In that case, it’s unlikely that your insurance will cover you. However, if a last-minute change in government advice forces you to cancel your holiday, then you may be able to claim. As always, though, this depends entirely on your provider, and you should check with them directly.

Will my insurance still be valid if I have to quarantine while abroad?

If you’re forced to extend your stay due to reasons out of your control (for example, if you’re unexpectedly required to quarantine during your holiday), some companies will automatically extend your policy and cover any additional costs of your stay. However, not all insurance companies do this, so it’s best to check your policy’s disruption cover in detail.

Choosing the right insurance policy for 2020

Identify your needs

Do you want to travel to a country on a “no-go” list? Do you need an insurance company that covers people over 65? These questions will help guide you as to which kind of policy you need and help refine your search.

Do your research

It has never been more important to read the fine print. Once you’ve identified your insurance needs, dig deep into each policy to see whether it covers every base. If the documentation isn’t clear enough or it doesn’t cover essential points like the ones we’ve mentioned above, call the company and pose your questions directly to a representative. Reading up on recent customer reviews can also help establish whether the company delivers on its policy.

Comprehensive disruption cover is key

Most insurance companies will cover medical emergencies, but the best policies have comprehensive disruption cover. This means that the insurance firm won’t just help you if you get sick, but they’ll also be able to reimburse you for delays, enforced stays, or a missed departure.