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Travel insurance

Important: Currently all national and international travel in or from the UK is banned except in certain circumstances. Check the FCO website for updates.

Under the UK Covid-19 restrictions, people are being told to stay at home and not travel. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel on its website. The government has said that if you are returning to England, Scotland, or Wales from abroad, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to three days before departure. You also need to self-isolate when you enter the UK from any foreign country except Ireland.

Even if you are legally permitted to travel abroad, you may not be allowed into certain countries as many have closed their borders or introduced restrictions on entry or quarantine. The government advises that you check the latest news and restrictions by looking at the FCO website.

If you are planning to travel and you do need a Covid-19 test in order to travel, then you should arrange a private test and not use the NHS testing service.

What cover is there for healthcare post Brexit?

Many people may still have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which entitles UK citizens to healthcare within the EU. It is not a substitute for travel insurance, but it does cover you if you are ill or have an accident in an EU country. The Brexit agreement means that the EHIC cards can still be used until their expiry date. They cover pre-existing medical conditions and there are an estimated 27 million in issue.

Once your EHIC has expired, or if you have never had a EHIC, you will need to apply for a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Unlike the EHIC, the GHIC does not cover medical treatment in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. The GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance as it does not cover repatriation, cancelled flights, or problems with your accommodation.

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance is a form of cover to protect you while you are away on holiday or travelling abroad. It protects you in case your flight is cancelled, your hotel is unavailable, you fall sick or are injured while you are away, or your belongings, gadgets or money are lost or stolen. Depending on the policy, it can also provide monetary compensation for other loss or inconveniences you may suffer when your travels do not go to plan.

What does travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance can help cover your costs or reimburse you if:

  • You fall ill or are injured while you’re away

  • Your possessions are lost, damaged or stolen

  • Your trip is cancelled or abandoned for a specified reason

Depending on the type of policy you choose, you could be covered for extras such as delayed baggage, loss of travel documents, missed excursions and many more.

You might need to take out a specialist policy or specify if you plan to undertake any extreme or winter sports, if you are going on a cruise, or if you have any existing medical conditions.

Some policies exclude more dangerous activities such as riding jet skis or scuba diving.

You can take out a travel insurance policy for just yourself, joint cover for you and partner, or insurance for your whole family or group. Find more details on what travel insurance covers.

Why would you need travel insurance?

In the UK we are used to having free healthcare and free treatment at hospitals for Accident and Emergency, but this is not the case in the rest of the world.

Many countries ask people to pay for medical treatment and this can end up being very expensive if you need medical help while you are abroad particularly in the United States with some medical bills reaching tens of thousands of pounds. Some private hospitals will refuse to treat you unless you can prove that you will be able to settle your medical bill, or you have travel insurance policy documents to show them.

A travel insurance policy will mean that you can claim back any costs that you incur if you are sick or injured while you are away, as well as the cost of flying you home if you need further treatment in the UK.

A holiday insurance policy also covers you if your flight is cancelled or your hotel is not available, and if you lose valuables or money during your trip. It gives you peace of mind so you can enjoy your holiday.>

So what are my holiday cancellation rights due to Covid-19?

If you are planning to travel later this year and you have an annual insurance policy (perhaps one bought in February 2020 before the pandemic), then your travel insurance should still cover you if your trip is cancelled at a later date, even due to Covid-19. However, most insurers have excluded cover against Covid-19 disruption from their policies. That is because it is a known risk, and because the advice from the government is not to travel.

Even if you have travel insurance, it will not cover you now while the government says you should stay at home and not travel outside your local area.

What can I claim under travel insurance?

Even when travel opens up, you will not be able to buy cover that pays out if you flight or holiday is cancelled due to Covid-19 related reasons. This is now excluded from all travel insurance policies.

Travel insurance should cover other reasons for cancellation, such as the aircraft unable to fly because of weather, mechanical or staffing problems. If you decide to travel against government advice or to a country that the FCO advises against travelling to, then you will not be covered by a travel insurance policy.

When should I buy travel insurance cover?

It might be tempting to put it off until your suitcases are packed, but it’s advisable to get travel insurance as soon as your holiday is booked.

If you buy travel insurance with cancellation cover, you’ll be covered from the moment you buy the policy, rather than the start of your trip. That means you can claim if your flight or holiday is cancelled due to circumstances beyond your control.

It’s worth checking the policy details as most insurers will lay out specific circumstances in which they will pay out on cancellation cover, for example if you can no longer travel because you fall ill, become unemployed, or have to deal with the death of a family member.

Do I need travel insurance?

While travel insurance isn’t mandatory, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind if something should happen to ruin your holiday — or worse, if you rack up an expensive medical bill abroad.

Find out more about whether you need travel insurance.

What is the best travel insurance to get?

The best type of travel insurance is the one that best fits the holiday you are going on. If you are making a single trip and don’t plan any more holidays this year, a straightforward policy to the country you are visiting will be most suitable.

However, if you are planning a couple of holidays, or have an itinerary with multiple trips, you may be better getting an annual travel insurance policy. At present, it is probably inadvisable to buy annual travel insurance as the government has banned all travel for now.

Single trip travel insurance

This covers you just for one holiday to one destination and is the cheapest option if you just have one trip arranged.

Annual travel insurance

This covers multiple trips abroad during a 12-month period. You will need to specify what countries you are planning to visit. For example, if you are only planning to travel within Europe it will be cheaper than a worldwide policy.

Worldwide policy

If you are travelling outside Europe, you will need to buy a worldwide policy. The price will depend on where you are going to visit. For example, a trip to the US will increase the cost of your travel insurance because medical care there is very expensive.

Where can I find cheap travel insurance?

You can find cheap travel insurance by using our comparison tool. Bear in mind that the cheapest travel insurance policy may not always offer the best or the most comprehensive cover.

If you are going to a single country within Europe for a fortnight’s holiday then arranging cover will be quite straightforward, but don’t forget to include cover for cancellation and loss of valuables as well as medical cover.

How much does travel insurance cost?

Cover could cost as little as a few pounds for a short trip in Europe, for example, but the cost will vary depending on how comprehensive the policy is and any extras that are included.

The price will depend on many factors including where you are travelling to, your age, and how much cover you need.

You might find it’s more expensive to cover cruises, winter sports and existing medical conditions — but it’s important to weigh up the value of the cover compared to the cost of your holiday. You should also consider the cost of receiving emergency medical care, as this can quickly build up to thousands in the worst case.

You can find out how much travel insurance will cost you by getting a quote below. It takes just a few minutes and you don’t need to provide many details.

How to compare travel insurance

Don’t just choose the cheapest travel insurance. Use our travel insurance comparison tool to look at the options available and select the best travel insurance for you based on where you are going and what cover you will need.

Getting a travel insurance quote

Our travel insurance comparison tool means when you need to compare travel insurance, getting a quote is simple and easy. Firstly, put in where you are going and for how long, then provide details of yourself and the other people in your party. You will need to let us know if anyone has a pre-existing medical condition. Once you have put in all the details, we will give you a quote or a range of quotes. The whole process should only take a couple of minutes. When you have chosen which cover you would like to buy you can filter the results based on medical cover, cancellation cover, baggage cover or the amount of excess you need to accept.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get a quote. These conditions could include cancer, stroke, serious heart, respiratory and terminal conditions.

Some insurers might not cover you if you already have a serious medical condition, or if you have a number of conditions. Others might only offer insurance at a much higher price. If you're unable to find suitable cover, the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) has also set up a directory of insurers willing to cover customers with pre-existing medical conditions.

You can contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) or you can telephone 0800 138 7777.

Then when you have chosen the right travel insurance cover for you, you can buy online by clicking through. It is that simple!

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