With travel restrictions now being lifted, holidaymakers are once again boarding flights for trips abroad, but consumers are being warned that their travel insurance may not provide as much financial protection against disruptions caused by the pandemic as they believe.
Although it is now legal to holiday in destinations on the Government’s green travel list, there is still the potential for flights or holidays to be cancelled due to the pandemic and travellers may not be permitted to board flights if they have a positive Covid-19 test result. As well as this, countries on the green travel list can be moved to the amber or red list, or these countries may decide to close their borders to UK holidaymakers.
While many holidaymakers believe that having travel insurance will protect them for many of these disruptions, research has found that few insurance policies will cover all these scenarios particularly if travel restrictions to the holiday destination are suddenly imposed by the Government or there are changes to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice.
As an example of what holidaymakers can expect from their travel insurance Covid-19 cover, Post Office Money has stated that travel insurance taken out on holidays to permitted destinations will include*:
But even its most expensive travel insurance option will not cover:
As such, those looking to travel during the pandemic are still taking a financial risk, especially as it is unlikely they will be covered if their holiday destination is moved from the Government’s green to amber or red list.
If the destination is moved to the amber or red list and the holiday company or airline cancels the holiday as a result, consumers should be able to get a refund for the cancelled holiday or flight, however they should still check the terms and conditions before booking.
Consumers may want to consider booking their trip as a package holiday as it is normally easier to get a refund from the travel company should the holiday be cancelled, however, again consumers need to check the refund terms and conditions before booking to make sure they are covered.
When booking, using a credit card offers slightly more protection as, under Section 75, the credit card provider has to provide protection on purchases over £100 and a legal responsibility if things go wrong with these purchases. Saying this, Section 75 rights are only available where the provider has misrepresented something to the buyer or breached their contract.
If the consumer cancels their holiday due to the destination being moved from the green to amber or red list and they cannot travel as a result, the consumer may struggle to get a refund or postpone their holiday. Some package holiday operators will offer their customers the ability to rebook their holiday for free in the event that their holiday destination moves from the green to the amber list, or if their local area goes into lockdown at the time they are due to depart, however consumers should read the small print to check what protection the travel company offers before booking.
When looking to book holidays during the pandemic, consumers need to ensure that they have as much Covid-19 travel insurance cover as possible to provide peace of mind that they will be financially protected if something goes wrong. Saying this, it is unlikely that travel insurance will provide complete cover. Holidaymakers should be careful who they book with and may want to consider using a credit card when making their holiday booking, as well as booking through a package holiday operator that offers comprehensive refund or the option to change the booking should the holiday or destination be impacted by Covid-19.
*The amount of cover will depend on which type of insurance policy is taken out.
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