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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)

  • Russ says:

    Does anyone know a broker who can arrange a bespoke policy? None of the policies I’ve seen cover me for long trips outside the UK since I’ve had an ICD fitted. Thanks.

  • TimM says:

    There is always the option of ‘self-insurance’, i.e. just pay for anything you need if you need it. This cuts out the middle-man and the associated profit.

    • Rhys says:

      Self insurance for medical expenses can get very expensive very quickly…

      • Rob says:

        Self insurance works fine IF you can afford the downside. If not then it’s not a great idea. We self insure our house contents because the cost of replacement is something we could swallow. I wouldn’t self insure a US holiday though.

        Insurance can make sense when pricing is not risk weighted and you are high risk. Whilst I don’t have it (because I can afford to buy a replacement, so we’re back to self insurance) mobile phone insurance would be good value for me because I don’t use a case. People who do use cases would pay the same for insurance and would effectively be subsidising my coverage.

        Similarly, my driving is terrible (because I don’t drive normally, only when hiring a car) and so – if I didn’t get it free via Amex Plat – an annual car hire policy via insurance4carhire etc would be disproportionately cheap for me because my bad driving and my record of damaging hire cars is not reflected in my premium.

        • the_real_a says:

          Dont you have curve metal Rob?

          • Rob says:

            I do, but as I don’t pay for it I never bothered reading the insurance details 🙂

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Rob Not a believer in insurance myself never had house contents insurance in my life and 74 this year, that’s a lot of years my thoughts on insurance is if stolen/damaged I’d just replace, thinking of Avios lol
          Had house insurance well only with mortgage none after house paid.
          Niece living in house now so she as insurance.
          Flat totally different always had Flat insurance bigger risk, but still not contents
          I was once asked what would I do if house collapsed,
          I said live in Flat agent wasn’t impressed lol
          Only got Travel insurance for long Haul, plus free Nationwide Flexi insurance still got it free although I think withdrawn for new customer’s
          I think Flexi Plus has it but monthly charge

        • Lady London says:

          “my record of damaging hire cars”

          Is there an article there, Rob? 🙂
          Could this be an aspect of your enthusiasm for the Amex Platinum Card which we might enjoy hearing about more fully?

      • Richie says:

        I know of someone who came back from the Balearics flat bed ambulance class with very good in flight service and excellent arrivals lounge at the Wellington hospital.

    • Simon says:

      This especially makes sense if you believe your circumstances are significantly below the average risk of all policyholders. Stops you subsidising the higher risk policyholders who are more likely to claim.

      • Doug M says:

        This is a bit nonsense. Low risk people pay much lower premiums. Do something simple like break an arm or dislocate a shoulder in the USA and the medical cost would be more than you’re likely to spend on travel insurance in your entire life.

        • Simon says:

          Yet the Expected cost of total lifetime claims are clearly lower than total cost of insurance. Or all insurance companies would be losing money.

          • MW says:

            Of course they are, the probability of you needing treatment is very low but if it does happen to you, the fall out is immense. In the grand scheme of things, of course insurance companies still make money.

          • J says:

            @Simon – you’re forgetting the negotiating power insurance companies have. Lifetime claims for an individual would be much higher than lifetime claims for an insurer negotiating the claims of the same individual.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Agree that Simon is wrong … you have to expect an insurer to have an inbuilt profit margin; that’s life.

        Your circumstances being below average risk of policy holders is irrelevant. The reason you buy insurance is to cover risks you cannot afford. If you can afford the contents of your house it is very sensible not to insure. Of course a broken arm – the example given – is relatively trivial and you probably could afford a 5-figure bill; but you can’t guarantee that is what you will suffer. Try an RTA with major injuries or a head/neck gunshot wound (it’s America after all); major surgeries and several weeks of hospitalization. At that point we’re into big 6 figures and heading towards 7, so most people are either bankrupt or selling their house. Think I’ll take the insurance even if I (good health and lifestyle – don’t do stupid stuff – don’t drive like a wazzock – don’t antagonise rednecks) believe I am a much better risk than average and so am subsidising others.

        • Stanley says:

          On this basis, take insurance with a decent 4-figure excess, as the only time you need to claim is the “Armageddon” scenario. Gives you a lower premium while still protecting the high cost, low probability claims…..

    • Anna says:

      The media is full of reports of people who’ve decided to do this subsequently begging for crowd funding when they find themselves seriously ill or injured abroad and can’t then afford ongoing treatment or repatriation.

      • Doug M says:

        I think the somewhat likely but not serious is much more likely than serious illness. Trip and break a bone or do anything that requires hospital in USA and the cost will be 5 figures in no time. Maybe you can take care of £10K or £15K, but why do it for the sake of £100 to £200 annually on travel insurance.

    • Ls says:

      Self insurance is fine for things you can afford to fully cover, like mobile phones. I do this as I know I take care, and should I lose it I can afford it.
      The health part of travel insurance is a must (or at least in-patient and repatriation costs). If I get hit by a bus I can’t afford to pay for all t he care, especially in places like the US. I’d be happy to ‘self insure’ for outpatient costs like just having a check up with a doctor (vs paying more for cover that covers this).

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Yep, the key factor to check is not cost of premium or chances, but the maximum loss. If you can bear the max loss, self insurance is ok. Mobile phone is the best example.

      • Lady London says:

        With mobiles, an important risk to cover is the cost of international calls all over the world, plus data and app usage risks, in the time before you can get your phone (IMEI code) and SIM blocked. (Phones are easy to crack.)

        Never seen a mobile phone policy that covers all that.

  • KevinF says:

    In compliance with local laws, I travelled to France, Luxembourg, UAE, Malta, and back to the UK in March 2021.
    I didn’t have to use it, but I was fairly comfortable with the terms of the “Safe Travels International Cost Saver” policy I got from US broker Insubuy . It includes care in case of Covid, and potential quarantine costs up to $150/day.
    People see a trap I missed?

  • Adam says:

    This is why I brought my trip this year through a Travel Agent (First time in about 20 years) The agent (Flight Centre) have a refund policy if the destination is moved onto the Amber list up to the day of travel and if it is already on Amber (as in my case) will contact me four weeks before travel and I can either keep my trip (knowing I will need to quarantine or change to somewhere else or cancel for a refund.) So no need to worry about covid cancellation on my insurance.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Sounds convincing when u buy, but let us know how it goes when u actually call them for a refund.

  • Stephanie says:

    Maybe airline sponsored covid cover is the way forward?

    https://www.jal.co.jp/ar/en/info/travelalerts/flysafe/jalcoronacover/

    I recently travelled to the US through Japan Airlines and had the piece of mind that I am fully covered by Amex Platinum and the covid cover Japan airline provides.

  • Dwadda says:

    We have both HSBC Jade and Amex Platinum travel insurance. Anyone know if either would cover us in Spain or the USA in the covid times? Frankly I hadn’t even thought about this…

  • Mel TS says:

    So with my ancient packaged with my bank account freebie insurance cover coming to an end and 2 trips the USA at the end of August and in September which were to be covered by this insurance. A trip to Kenya next June has separate insurance. I’ve spent 2 days looking at all these options. My head is spinning a bit. Any one have any insights into where they ALL say ‘cover is only for something that is unforeseen’….’and the cancellation cover is only if you are allowed to travel when you take out the insurance’…. Covid is already here, so not unforeseen, and currently FCDO says essential only travel. Making any insurance I buy now irrelevant. Or am I wrong?

  • Will says:

    interesting: Trailfinders annual policy covers Cancellation before travel (eg from kid’s failed pre-departure PCR test), but not Curtailment (or anything else) after commencing travel to a FCO ‘advised against’ country (eg Greece less 5 islands).

    • Will says:

      May be worth looking at campbellirvinedirect dot com – recommended by Trailfinders to cover their gaps

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