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Which? finds only two travel insurance policies offer full covid coverage

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Which? magazine released the results of a major analysis of UK travel insurance policies yesterday.

The results are worrying – out of 250 policies analysed, only two offered full coverage against trips to countries on the UK ‘Green List’.

Most of you cannot even purchase these policies, because the two providers are:

  • Barclays Travel Pack (sold as an add-on to Barclays current accounts)
  • HSBC Select & Cover (available to current account, savings account, mortgage and credit card customers only)

Any other policy you buy from the 250 analysed by Which? will not offer full coverage for Green List trips.

The two policies above were the only ones to cover you for cancellation if you can’t travel due to changes in Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice or because of a lockdown.

Only 32% of policies achieved a ‘Superior’ rating from Which?. This means that they would cover you if you are forced to cancel your holiday after being told to self-isolate via the NHS app.

The good news is that 86% of policies would pay out if you had to cancel your holiday due to being diagnosed with coronavirus yourself. 14% of policies will not.

The list of which insurance policies offer what level of coverage is, unfortunately, behind the Which? paywall.

None of these policies cover you for most Amber List countries

It is important to note that none of the 250 policies covered by Which? will cover you if you travel to a place which is on the Foreign Office ‘do not travel’ list.

Confusingly, the Amber List does not fully match the ‘do not travel’ list. The FCDO says that you should not travel to Spain – and so you are not insured – but you can travel to Malta, even though both are on the Amber List.

Which insurance companies do cover Amber List trips?

A handful of insurance providers DO offer coverage to countries that the FCDO only advises essential travel to or that are on the Amber list. The two highest profile ones are:

  • Staysure, which offers add-on cover to European destinations and

battleface has been recommended numerous times in the HfP comments in recent months, although we haven’t tried it ourselves.

As an example, a one week trip to Greece (the majority of which the FCDO still advises against non-essential travel) in June is £25.15, based on a 35 year old travelling.

The coverage includes:

  • Medical Expenses & Emergency Evacuation: £5m (excess £250)
  • Accidental Death & Permanent Total Disability: £50,000
  • Baggage Loss or Delay: £2,000, limited to £250 per single article (excess £250)
  • Personal Money and Passport: £500, limited to £250 in respect of cash (excess £250)
  • Trip Cost Cancellation: £2,000
  • Personal Liability: £500,000

You can choose to customise your coverage to increase these limits, although this obviously increases the cost of your policy. Baggage cover can be increased up to £5,000, for example.

Which? recommends the following levels of coverage:

  • Emergency medical cover £5m worldwide
  • Cancellation, curtailment and missed departure £2,000 or the value of your holiday
  • Personal belongings and money £1,500
  • Personal liability £1m

….. so the battleface numbers are a little short in some areas. That said, the numbers are arguably near enough, given that virtually no other insurer will offer you anything.

The key selling point is that you are still covered for up to £5 million in medical expenses. You also get personal liability and accidental death or disability cover.

Be clear about what battleface covers for covid

The key selling point of battleface is that it provides travel medical insurance for holidays in Amber List countries where virtually no other insurer will cover you at all.

It does not, however, provide coverage for all Covid-19 related expenses. Here is the summary wording from the policy document:

“This insurance covers medical expenses necessarily incurred by an Insured Person aged 59 years or under for the treatment of COVID-19 and SARS CoV2 or symptoms thereof subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.”

battleface will not reimburse you if you test positive and have to quarantine, nor will it cover you for consequential loss such as the cost of buying new flights or lost income if you cannot work due to being in quarantine abroad.

Conclusion

The Which? survey published yesterday shows that the travel insurance industry still has a long way to go before it can be seen as offering ‘full’ coverage for trips to Green List countries.

The fact that it is virtually impossible to get coverage for most Amber List countries – the majority of which now have a lower covid risk than the UK and pose minimal other medical risks – is, frankly, pathetic.

If you are planning a trip to an Amber List country, you can get a travel insurance quote with battleface here.

We receive a commission from battleface if you purchase a policy via the link above. This means that we need to tell you that (deep breath) battleface is provided by battleface Insurance Services Limited, a UK insurance intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Tangiers Underwriting Services SRL, a Belgian mandated underwriter registered with the Authority of Financial Markets and Services and battleface Insurance Services LLC, a US licensed insurance producer. The details provided on this webpage are for information only. Always read the description of cover contained within your policy to ensure it is suitable for your needs.

Comments (123)

  • TimM says:

    Staysure is the only provider offering full coverage on an annual policy (Battleforce does not offer an annual policy) for travel against FCDO advice with the notable exclusion of cover for which the advice is in place. E.g. If the FCDO advises against travel to the Artic because you may freeze to death, you are covered if someone steals your laptop but not if you freeze to death.

    • John says:

      What if you freeze to death because your laptop was stolen?

    • TomH says:

      Sorry, does that mean it doesn’t cover Covid related issues since Covid is the reason the FCO says not to travel?

      • TimM says:

        Pretty much. They won’t cover cancellation prior to travel because of Covid but will repatriate you if you fall ill of Covid during the stay. All other cover is as normal despite the advice not to travel there.

        • Andrew says:

          How can they repatriate you if you fall ill with covid given that no airline would touch you and the UK wouldn’t let you back in either?

        • Mark says:

          They will cover you for COVID if COVID is the reason for the FCDO all but essential travel advice. The reason is something else they will still cover you, but not for reason behind the advice.

          We’re looking to take out insurance for a trip last-minute with Staysure. Obviously not to cover cancellation (which doesn’t matter because, other than some of the testing we’re not committed to anything we can’t cancel or move without penalty). Staysure looks good for us in terms of cover to a destination to which the FCDO is advising against all but essential travel because of COVID (even though their infection rate is now much lower than ours!) based on price and cover.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Do you mean travel to the Arctic or in an artic?

  • SammyJ says:

    The Barclays Travel Pack do offer most cover for amber if you travel against FCDO advice (all but essential) but the cover is reduced and excludes cancellation/curtailment.

    FAQ: What if I travel to a country where the FCDO advises against travel?

    You have most of your cover in place, such as medical expenses, but you won’t be covered for abandonment or cancellation if you decide to come home early if restrictions were in place at the start of your trip.

    They don’t sell the policy now as mentioned above. I believe the Nationwide Flex Account do still sell to new customers though, and that offers similar cover for travelling against advice.

    • Simon Cross says:

      Importantly though Nationwide do not cover you for cancellation is the fcdo advise changes from “ok” to “against all but essential travel” between booking and travel. Therefore if this happens you cannot claim if you don’t then travel. Only Barclays and HSBC cover this so any traveller who does not have one of these needs to make sure that their travel plans are fully refundable if this happens.

      • SammyJ says:

        Yes, that’s fine though – the vast majority of us don’t expect that. If you book a trip and loose the cash these days, that’s your own fault and just something to take on the chin, it’s medical cover and repatriation in the event of illness that’s the big one for most folks.
        Because of FCDO advice, if you travel to Mexico and break your ankle, you’re not covered with most policies. Barclays & Nationwide will still cover this.

        • Simon Cross says:

          Change of colour status from green to amber is however a significant risk and if you then have to cancel your holiday in my opinion you either need a travel insurance policy which covers such things or fully cancellable and refundable travel plans.

          Some travel operators are playing fast and lose by still operating flights etc if a country changes to amber from green but the fcdo advise does not change. Under such circumstances the traveller has no refund rights whatsoever as it is only fcdo advice which is binding on a tour operator and which triggers ABTA and ATOL refunds.

          • Mark says:

            Not necessarily playing fast and lose though. Some people still want/need to travel to a destination to which the FCDO advises against all but essential travel. The funny thing is that two years ago I couldn’t have conceived of a situation arising where I would have opted to do that, yet we’re now being advised not to travel places where the risks are considerably lower than travelling within the UK and, if apply a degree of common sense is applied, minimal. To my mind that undermines the whole system and must raise concerns that it sets a precedent for people travelling against FCDO advise from which they find it difficult to recover.

            The best protection against cancellation under the current circumstances are fully refundable / changeable bookings, which aren’t difficult to obtain, or booking ABTA/ATOL covered packages.

      • JDB says:

        Correct, but Nationwide will still cover you for the trip if you still choose to travel, which seems very fair.

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          Agreed we kept our Nationwide cover and the lack of any cover to an Amber country was the final straw to dump Amex plat for me

      • Dawn says:

        We have Nationwide and had a long conversation with both Staysure and them. We have property to sort out in Turkey (red list) and both insurance companies said that the actual traffic light system wasn’t relevant. They said if our trip was cancelled they would not cover this, but they would cover us if we got Covid abroad whatever the colour as having a property meant we could get cover under the ‘essential reasons’. Before everyone has a go at me, I’m just telling you what they said. We decided to travel here, know the risk and maybe we can’t return until it’s amber, but as we’re here long term it’s a risk we were willing to take. And we’ve been double vaccinated for ages too.

  • Simon Cross says:

    The difference between Red, Amber and Green categorisation and the FCDO travel advise is confusing but the lists are for different reasons.

    Red, Amber, Green categorisation is about the threat to the UK as a whole from importing covid-19 and in particular new variants.

    The FCDO advise is about risk to the individual traveller themselves.

    Yes in many cases these risk ratings will match but in others they won’t.

    So (e.g. Malta). It is Amber because the risk to the uk as a whole from importing covid is deemed high enough for this classification BUT the risk to any one traveller is not high hence it does not appear of the FCDO list.

    • SammyJ says:

      And also because the FCDO isn’t politically motivated.

      • roberto says:

        The same appears to be the case of Barbados. I tried to call Staysure yesterday to clarify the rulings but gave up after 40 mins on hold.

        Its Amber but according to the .gov site it’s NOT reccomend NOT to travel too although travel to Amber and Red countries is not recommended. Clear as mud..

        • JDB says:

          I find the wording of the Staysure policy re travel to “all but essential” countries if it changes to this status after after booking difficult to understand – at p.41 of the current T&Cs.

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          I understand that Staysure only extend their cover for essential travel to Europe?

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      No, it’s amber because HMG doesn’t want anybody to travel to Europe for political reasons

  • Mark says:

    What!!!! No platinum Amex mentioned?

    • Ben says:

      I’d be interested to know what Amex travel insurance covers, if anything

      • Adam says:

        It doesn’t cover you for cancellation due to COVID. It will cover you for travel to a country against FCDO advice but only if the travel advisory is due to risk from covid, as it is for many countries, and not for other reasons. From a medical expenses perspective, it’s debatable if they cover covid as they may argue it could be “reasonably expected” as per the terms. I asked them recently for clarification of what was covered, hence knowing the above.

      • Sandgrounder says:

        https://icm.aexp-static.com/Internet/insurance/pdf/en-GB/UK_ICC_Covid-19_FAQs_Final_v4_clean_cg.pdf

        This was issued last year, still pops up on opening the insurance site now.

        • TOBIAS L says:

          I’m more intrigued about coverage NOT related to Covid-19 e.g. water sports, hiking, etc. in an Amber country.

          By the looks of that PDF Amex plat essentially provides exact same coverage only if not linked to Covid (though does anyone know if car hire excess is valid?):

          “However, if you
          travel against this advice and take a non-essential trip, we will only provide cover during your trip
          for medical or other events not related to COVID-19, subject to Terms and Conditions.”

          • Yorkieflyer says:

            Exactly Amex Plat doesn’t cover COVID related medical costs to Non essential countries eg virtual ly everywhere

          • Adam says:

            Yes you are right and car hire is covered (that was actually my main concern when I queried with them) 🙂

          • Jim says:

            So Amex Plat still covers everything as it would be normally if travelling to an “essential travel only” country, with the exception for any covid-related issues (including covid-related medical issues)?
            And health/medical issues not related to covid would be covered?

      • Sukes says:

        Axa / Amex Plat advice to me in writing on 7/8June ’21…

        Q/ Amber destination & FCDO does NOT advise against (I think currently Portugal, Canaries, some Greek Islands, Malta & a handful of others)
        A/ ‘The American Express Travel Insurance will be in place as per terms and conditions of the policy including Cvoid COVERAGE’.

        Q/ Amber destination & FCDO also advises against eg USA
        A/ ‘If you are planning to travel to an AMBER destination and your trip is NOT ESSENTIAL then you will have travel insurance as per terms and conditions BUT NO COVERAGE RELATED TO CVOID19 RELATED INCIDENTS.’

    • Andrew says:

      I’ll add lack of usable insurance to my standard script for calling for retention offers!

  • Jody says:

    Does battleface cover you for pre existing conditions now? I know when I looked last year it didn’t, so pretty pointless really.

    • Jane says:

      I was fiddling on their site yesterday and after a basic quote it gave me the option to ‘customise’ which is where I assume you could add pre-existing conditions but since the basic quote was £1250 I didn’t bother looking further !

  • Jon says:

    Given the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s potential for (rightly or wrongly) frustrating so many people’s travel plans, I wonder if we shouldn’t be referring to it by the slightly longer shorthand of FCDOff? (I mean, they *did* realise when they chose the name, surely?! 😉

    As Peter Kay would say, “Booked it, packed it, FCDOff”.

    I thank you. Here all week (actually indefinitely) etc.

    • sayling says:

      Perhaps that’s why they changed from just being FCOff?

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Should just rename it FO (foreign office, in case anyone thinks differently)

  • Jonny says:

    I have HSBC Premier. Is the packaged insurance the same, better, or worse than the HSBC Select and Cover policy at the top of the article? Thx.

  • Peter says:

    For my trips to Dubai and Turkey last month I got inbound travel insurance from insurances there. The main thing I care about is medical insurance, within the EU we thankfully still got the EHIC.

    • TOBIAS L says:

      I’ve got a trip to Spain and don’t care about Covid-related issues.

      On the subject of EHIC: what are the key things NOT covered vs standard insurance? I understand you’d still have access to the A&E. E.g. if doing water sports are you still covered?

      • Rob says:

        You have the same coverage as a local resident would get, so presumably no restrictions. Spaniards receive the same here.

        • Bagoly says:

          Although even EU countries tend to have health systems that don’t work like the NHS.
          I read recently that Spain in particular, corrupt hotel managers may send one to a private hospital, which is then not covered by GHIC.

          • Anna says:

            This happened to my friend’s mum who had a bleed on the brain while in Spain. The private ambulance summoned by the hotel took her to a private hospital where they were forced to stump up 3000 euros before they would treat her!

            The EU has been trying to enforce the EHIC rules in Spain for about a decade.

        • Dawn says:

          I understood that you can only get the free cover in a state hospital in Spain, for example, but not in a private hospital as I found out when I tried to use EHIC once.

      • Tracey says:

        Repatriation.

      • abc says:

        The things that are not covered by EHIC are (obviously) all non-medical aspects of standard travel insurance and repatriation. Otherwise you are covered for everything under the same conditions as a Spanish resident (which might mean co-pays for some things such as prescriptions) but in contrast to standard travel insurances, there are no specific activities (or pre-existing conditions) that are not covered.

      • Bagoly says:

        Hey, branding is important in the travel industry 🙂
        For nearly everybody (EEA national resident in Britain, UK Pensioner resident in EU, or some niche categories) it’s now GHIC.

    • TimM says:

      No, I have a GHIC now. the Global Health Insurance Card covers what the EHIC used to.

      • abc says:

        Only almost, GHIC doesn’t cover travel to Norway, Switzerland, Iceland (relevant as on the green list) and Liechtenstein, but EHIC did (and still does for those people that are still eligible for it.)

    • Bagoly says:

      Smart thinking.
      How did you find recommended insurers?
      Local contacts or Google?

      • Louie says:

        @Peter and as Bagoly asks above – how did you find the insurers you used and do you recommend them? Booked to Turkey later this year…..

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