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UK travel insurance: What you will and won’t be covered for during COVID-19

People walk through an airport
People walk through an airport   -   Copyright  Canva
By Nichola Daunton

If the recent winter weather has made you long for a summer holiday, you’re not alone.

But with the return of lockdowns, quarantine hotels and travel restrictions as a result of the omicron variant, many people are wondering if it’s safe to book a holiday next year.

While travel might seem a bit daunting right now, many travel insurance companies have adapted their policies to include COVID-19 cover. So if you catch Covid before you travel or while you’re away, you may be able to get a refund.

With the pandemic about to move into its third year, we’ve rounded up everything you need to look for in a travel insurance policy to guarantee you’re protected during these tricky times.

Will my travel insurance cover the cost of a quarantine hotel?

Paying to stay in a quarantine hotel can be very expensive. The set rate for a single adult to stay in a UK facility for 10 days is currently £2,285 (€2,682). All stays must be booked in advance, so it’s very important to check before you travel or you may risk a fine.

If you visit a country that has mandatory quarantine in place, you will only get your costs covered if you have the right type of policy and only if you test positive for COVID-19.

If you visit a country that has mandatory quarantine in place, you will only get your costs covered if you have the right type of policy and only if you test positive for COVID-19.

If you do not test positive for coronavirus, you will not receive any benefits from your travel insurance provider, regardless of the type of policy you have.

Many travel insurance companies will pay for your time in a quarantine hotel if you are on holiday in a country that gets added to the red list and you therefore need to quarantine once you return home.

Aviva will cover the complete cost of a UK quarantine hotel in these circumstances - as long as the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) didn’t advise against travel to your destination before you left. They’ll also cover the cost if you are advised to self-isolate while abroad and if you are unexpectedly quarantined at the airport.

If your insurance company doesn’t provide cover for quarantine and you feel you are unable to pay, there may be some hardship funds that you can apply for.

In the UK you can apply for hardship funding here, but only if you meet the strict criteria. If you provide false information, you are liable to be fined up to £4,000 (€4,700).

Will my travel insurance cover me if I go to an affected country?

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If you are travelling from the UK and you have booked to visit a country that the FCDO advises against, then generally your travel insurance will not cover you.

Battleface, however, provide cover for FCDO countries, so if you need to travel for essential reasons, they might be the right provider for you. 

If you are travelling from the UK and you have booked to visit a country that the FCDO advises against, then your travel insurance will not cover you.

Due to COVID-19 the countries that the FCDO advises against may change at short notice, so it is best to check before you book.

If you have already booked and the FCDO changes its advice, you may still receive some cover but it is best to check with your insurance provider before you decide whether to travel or not.

What if I catch coronavirus on holiday?

In general, COVID-19 travel insurance policies will cover your medical expenses if you can prove you have tested positive for COVID-19 while on holiday. You will need to provide them with details of your positive result and keep all your receipts to make your claim.

When looking for travel insurance, make sure your policy includes Coronavirus medical and repatriation cover. This will provide you with cover if you contract COVID-19 while you are away.

In many circumstances, it will also provide cover up to seven days beyond your scheduled return date, so you will be covered if you have to self-isolate in your accommodation.

It is important to choose a policy that has good general medical cover too, £5 million is generally recommended. This will protect you if you are hospitalised during your stay.

Buying travel insurance closer to your departure date than you normally would, will also ensure that you're got adequate cover for the current rules in your destination country. 

What if I need to cancel my trip?

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If you catch Covid in the two weeks leading up to your trip and need to cancel, you will need to contact your travel and accommodation providers before your insurer. Your insurer will only pay for costs that can’t be refunded by your holiday providers.

If you catch Covid in the two weeks leading up to your trip and need to cancel, you will need to contact your travel and accommodation providers before your insurer.

Before contacting your insurer, make a list of all your non-refundable costs, including any trips or transfers and have the booking confirmations to hand.

Before buying a travel insurance policy, make sure it includes cancellation cover of at least £2,000.

What if a relative is taken seriously ill?

If you need to cancel or cut your trip short because a close relative falls seriously ill, then some travel insurance providers will cover the cost of this too.

Allianz Assistance will cover you if this happens, but you will need to provide a doctor’s certificate as proof.

For more information about travel insurance, check out our guide for 2021 here.