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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)

  • JDB says:

    On insurance, one thing to note is that on standalone hire car excess policies, many of the mainstream ones seem not to cover you in “all but essential” countries.

  • NC says:

    What about Avanti insurance? Their website says “Cover for COVID-19
    Cancellation, medical expenses and repatriation”

    • JDB says:

      Avanti has three categories of non cruise policies and they all say:-

      “You will not be covered if you travel to a country or region where the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has advised against all travel or all but essential travel. For further details, visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice”

  • Keely says:

    As I mentioned on another post a couple of days ago , the terms and conditions of the travel pack require you to update them with any changes . So even if you have the policy in place already , when you call them to update of new conditions, they then exclude you from claiming for that condition. I had this pack in place for over 8 years . Husband diagnosed with serious medical condition, called them , they excluded it from our policy. When I tried to argue that surely the fact that the policy was already in place before any symptoms/diagnosis means we should be covered , we got a flat No . That and the fact that they have offered no discount /reduction despite the fact that we haven’t been able to use the lounge passes for a significant period of time means I’ve cancelled my travel plus pack. I really urge people with this insurance to check they’re actually covered for any conditions.

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Which insurance company is this?

      • Keely says:

        This is the travel pack that you can buy to add on with a Barclays account . I’m not sure who the provider is?

        • John says:

          Seems worthy of a complaint or at least a refund if they no longer want to provide the insurance given your new circumstances

    • Dubious says:

      This is a bit like (but not exactly the same as) the situation I had with an annual policy I bought two years ago (pre-COVID-19) that include cover for pandemics and epidemics -> covering for consequential rerouting or trip cancellation…

      Whilst I initially had peace of mine when COVID-19 hit and disrupted my flights, in reality the flights starting two days after my policy was due to autorenew…except that if I let the policy ‘renew’ the insurer would claim I was no longer covered for COVID-19 related disruption as it was a ‘known’ event before the policy was renewed…

      Suffice to say I decline the auto-renewal.

    • Lady London says:

      Unfortunately I think the way these ‘monthly payment’ travel insurances that are included in bank account packages can get away with this, is if the policy is written as a ‘revolving’ policy expiring and renewing monthly. With the insurer having the option to change terms of your individual insurance at each renewal.

      If an insurance autorenews (whether annually or monthly) personally I do not think the terms should be allowed to change without the policyholder’s explicit consent.

      Seems like the law could be toughened up here to prevent abuses.

      I have successfully resisted a motorbike insurer who tried unilaterally to reduce part of the cover midterm (by taking away cover for helmets and leathers). I refused to allow them to make this change which they’d announced to pokicyholders, and they backed off. I sm certain I would have won that in court anyway. How many policyholders did they hoodwink?

  • abc says:

    It would be useful to have an analysis that is focused on the medical aspects of travel insurance. A lot of people that really want to travel might be happy with an insurance that doesn’t cover for cancellation (in particular as flights/hotel bookings can be flexible, and even if not, the loss is manageable) or baggage loss, but no-one really wants to (or should) travel without medical insurance.

    • Brian says:

      YES – THIS.

    • Memesweeper says:

      +1

      There’s also a handful of countries that require evidence of medical insurance, including COVID cover, before you can enter.

    • J says:

      +1

      • SammyJ says:

        Exactly this!

        Nationwide are the only one I’ve managed to find who are selling new policies, with their annual cover through the Flex Account.

        I don’t give a toss about cancellations, lost luggage etc. I just want to know that if I take severely ill in a far-flung destination, I’m not going to need to start a go-fund-me page to pay for the medical bills and ambulance home.

  • Andrew says:

    There’s going to be trouble ahead if the insurer’s terms and conditions aren’t absolutely clear ahead of boarding.

    If anything right now, I’d like the assurance of sticking my policy number and destination into the insurer’s portal 24-48 hours before travelling and get absolute clarity about the cover.

  • Brian says:

    We are planning on heading to the States on the 25th July for three weeks even if it stays on the Amber list. Battlefact wants £950 for 2 adults and 2 children, which is crazy. I’m not worried about covid, baggage, cancellation. I just need medical cover, any suggestions?

    • Brian says:

      looks like this might be better insured from the other way round “US Visitors Health Insurance” https://www.travelinsure.com/products/visit-usa-healthcare/

    • TimM says:

      Look at Staysure.

      • Brian says:

        @timM – staysure is not covering non european amber list destinations according to their website.

      • John says:

        Staysure confirmed to me on phone and in chat anything to do with COVID can only be covered by the European add on pack – cover not possible for other areas.

    • Simon Cross says:

      You are not worried about covid? So if you catch it and are hospitalised there you are happy to pay the medical costs – wow!!

      • Brian says:

        @simon cross – it appears the US based visitor policies do cover Covid which is good news. I guess my point was we are prepared to accept the risk as two healthy double vaccinated adults that we would travel if covid was excluded from a policy…

    • SammyJ says:

      I wouldn’t buy insurance yet as it’s so unlikely you’ll be going in July as borders probably won’t be open, but if they do, have a look at the Nationwide Flex Account – they should offer cover for all the important things (ie medical) despite FCDO/Amber status. £13 a month, and much more comprehensive than Battleface.

      • Brian says:

        “I wouldn’t buy insurance yet as it’s so unlikely you’ll be going in July as borders probably won’t be open”

        the borders are open for me.. we are going 🙂

    • Rory says:

      Check out safetywing. I’m using them at the moment in the US.

    • fbrj says:

      Brian – not wanting to poke my nose in but are you aware that that all “casual” travel to the US – from the UK – has been banned since March 2020 (and re-emphasised in Biden’s May 2021 proclamation). Only very limited exemptions (eg visiting under 21 offspring). Maybe you are a US citizen?

      I only raise this because some friends of ours were recently denied boarding by BA to LAX – fell foul of Homeland Security enforcement.

  • Gemma says:

    You’ve missed one company off, which I have an annual policy with.

    https://www.voyagerinsurance.com/high-risk-voyager/
    but the policy is called High Risk Voyager Travel Insurance.

    It will cover you to countries even where the FCO recommend you do not travel to, warzones etc, but it’s expensive.

    • GeorgeJ says:

      Yes its a useful addition but the limit of 31 days for leisure trips is a bit of a limiter. I regularly go away for longer.

  • Simon says:

    Sounds likes Amex Platinum ticks the boxes for covering all non-COVID related problems. With 2 double jabbed adults, and 2 young kids, I’m happy to take this risk if it means getting to an amber country for 10 days in August.

    • MM says:

      I agree. I also think with everything else this is still the best option. Flights & hotels are mostly flex at this point. If you can add an “essential reason” for your travel than the cover is even better.

      • Simon says:

        Agreed. I guess the one problem would be a failed test to stop you getting back to UK, and having to cough up for another 10 nights accommodation abroad….

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          Or being seriously ill with Covid

          • Simon says:

            With 2 double jabbed adults, and 2 kids under 10? More likely to be ill with sunburn.

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