As travel picks up across the globe, sorting out insurance is a must for any would-be jet setters.
The pandemic has made travellers more aware of the need to take out cover, according to a European Travel Commission survey published today.
"Some interviewees have become risk-averse regarding the impact of unforeseen or sudden changes prior to and during their holiday and would like to mitigate a potential financial loss with travel insurance,” the report reads.
But with so many different providers to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Here we answer the most common questions about choosing travel insurance in 2022, from COVID-19 cover to finding specialist providers for “no-go” destinations to how to make a claim.
Will insurers demand vaccine passports or vaccine certification?
Many countries have dropped vaccination requirements for incoming visitors, though some - such as the United States, Australia, Brazil, and Canada - still bar entry for non-vaccinated visitors.
However, not all travel insurers will cover COVID-related claims made by unvaccinated travellers.
For example, UK Insurer StaySure will not reimburse non-inoculated travellers for COVID-19 related emergency care.
"If you declined any doses of the vaccination through personal preference, or haven’t been able to have a dose you’ve been offered, you won’t be covered for any COVID-related claims," a statement on their website reads.
"Needing a vaccination before travel is not a new concept. Many places already require vaccination against diseases such as typhoid before you can travel and this has an impact on your health cover."
People with official vaccine exemptions will be able to get cover.
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.
Since then, however, nearly every insurer has developed new cover specifically for COVID-19.
These are not uniform. Nearly all providers will cover 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).
Likewise, not all policies cover the cost of isolation for 'close contacts'. Read the small print to see whether you are getting basic or comprehensive cover.
My country advises against travel to my chosen holiday destination. Will I be able to get travel insurance?
It’s difficult, but not impossible. If you plan to travel to a destination that your country's government recommends not visiting, 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 advises against travelling to a destination 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 or travel chaos?
With most countries around the world re-opening in 2022, it's unlikely (though not impossible) that your trip would be cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
In the unlikely event that this did happen, you could usually request a refund or postpone your trip directly with the airline, hotel, or tour operator. Insurance companies will cover urgent medical care and repatriation related to COVID-19.
It's more likely that your flight will be cancelled for non-COVID reasons. In recent months, airlines across Europe have grounded thousands of planes as the industry struggles to meet a crippling staffing shortfall.
If your airline cancels your flight, it should reimburse you. If your miss the flight while waiting in an airline queue, you will likely be left out of pocket - neither the airport nor your insurer will cover the cost of a missed flight.
If I want to cancel my trip because of COVID-19, should my insurance company cover the costs?
According to independent financial advisors Defaqto, three-quarters of plans in the UK will cover cancellation due to a positive Covid test before travel.
If a last minute change in government advice forces you to cancel your holiday, then you may be able to claim.
But if a government no longer advises against travel to your destination on the date of your departure and you decided not to go - without testing positive - your decision would likely be classed as “disinclination to travel”. Then, it is likely that you wouldn’t be covered by your travel insurance provider.
Similarly, if you decided not to travel because of the risk of self-isolation rules coming into effect, this may also be regarded as a “disinclination to travel”.
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.
Should I take out insurance for a domestic trip or a weekend away?
It's a matter of personal preference. As travel rules can be unpredictable, we would recommend it, yes. Almost all annual travel insurance policies cover such trips and the majority also cover you for cancelling a holiday if your pre-travel Covid test is positive.
It's worth checking if your policy has any rules on the length of the trip. A holiday provider with flexible booking terms may be the best choice.
Choosing the right insurance policy for 2022
Get the right policy for you and where you want to go
Do you need an insurance company that covers people over 65? Have you got pre-existing health conditions? Do you want a one-off or an annual policy? These questions will help guide you as to which kind of policy you need and help refine your search.
Do your research - and always read the fine print
It has never been more important to read the terms and conditions. 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 or it doesn’t cover essential points like the ones we’ve mentioned above, call the company and ask them your questions. Reading up on recent customer reviews can also help establish whether the company delivers on its policy, readily accept valid claims and so on.
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 ill, but they’ll also be able to reimburse you for delays, enforced stays, or a missed departure.
Consider 'cancelling for any reason' cover
If you really want the widest flexibility for cancelling a trip then it's worth upgrading to a 'cancel for any reason' policy, also known as CFAR.
Reimbursement is typically between 50 and 75 per cent of the pre-paid, non-refundable trip cost, but it will increase the cost of the plan.
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