Worried about Coronavirus and travel insurance? Find out more

Holidays and Covid: What we can do to help

Posted on February 22, 2021 by Kelly Johnstone
travellers walking through the airport

Find out how we can help if your travel plans are affected by COVID-19 and what your next steps should be.

Haven’t bought your travel insurance yet? We’ve explained the ins and outs of our travel insurance that covers coronavirus for when it’s safe to travel.

Can I buy a new travel insurance policy?

Due to current restrictions in the UK, you can only buy Single Trip Travel Insurance for trips departing the UK on or after 17 May 2021. 

You can also take out a new Annual Multi-Trip Insurance policy, but we cannot cover you for any international travel before 17 May 2021. 

These dates are subject to change, based on national government lockdown restrictions.

Is my annual travel insurance policy still valid?

If you currently hold an Annual Multi-Trip policy we are unable to cover for you for any international travel made between 5 January – 17 May 2021. As before, these dates are subject to change, based on national government lockdown restrictions.

Since domestic travel restrictions eased you will be covered for trips made within the UK from the 12 April 2021. As always, it’s best to keep up to date with the latest travel guidance before planning your trip.

Can I go on holiday?

There are different government rules on travel depending on what nation you live in. You will need to check for any possible restrictions or quarantine rules that may be in place as information can change quickly and will affect whether you can travel with a valid policy or not. The below summarises the rules for travel depending on where you live, rather than where you can travel to.

England

The earliest possible date for international travel is 17 May 2021.

Domestic holidays within households/bubbles were allowed to resume from 12 April, as long as they’re in self-contained accommodation.

You do not need a reasonable excuse to leave England to travel to other parts of the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.

If you need to travel for essential reasons, you should stay local. See the latest government guidance for more information.

Wales

From 12 April, local travel restrictions were lifted, allowing travel into or out of Wales as long as the journey takes place to or from a country within the UK or wider Common Travel Area.

International travel is still not permitted without reasonable excuse.

Scotland

Most of Scotland is under Level 4 restrictions, apart from a few islands that are Level 3.

You can only leave your home with a ‘reasonable excuse’, and these exceptions are different for both levels.

From 26 April 2021, it is planned to allow travel within Scotland, England and Wales.

International travel outside the UK without a reasonable excuse is still prohibited by law.

See the guidance Scotland has set out for travel for more information.

Northern Ireland

Only essential travel within the Common Travel Area is allowed.

You must not travel outside the Common Travel Area unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.

If you’re returning from another country, you may have to self-isolate for a period of 10 days on your return. 

See the NI government site for more information.

How you’re covered if you can travel…

I have an existing travel insurance policy. Am I covered for COVID-19?

The level of cover you have in place will depend on when you bought your policy. If you’re unsure, it’s best to check your policy documents. Here’s a summary of your policy benefits:

If you bought your policy on or after 16 March 2020, for a holiday on or after 17 July 2020, COVID-19 cover includes:

  • Cancelling your trip if you have COVID-19 within 14 days of travelling*
  • Emergency medical expenses abroad**
  • Repatriation to help you get back home**
  • Cancellation and repatriation cover if you’re denied boarding with a positive test for COVID-19
  • Additional accommodation and transport if deemed necessary by our medical officer
  • Daily benefit if you are ordered to self-isolate in your holiday accommodation if you have COVID-19
  • Cancelling or cutting your trip short after hospitalisation or death of a close relative from COVID-19
  • Your travelling companion(s), people you live with, or people you’re staying with on holiday being diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of travel***

If you bought your policy on or after 29 April 2021 your COVID-19 cover includes everything above, as well as:

  • Cancelling your trip if you’re told to self-isolate by the government’s Test & Trace system
  • Cancellation and repatriation cover if you’re denied boarding with a confirmed temperature above 38 degrees Celsius
  • Cancelling your trip if you can’t complete your vaccine course due to other illnesses or have an allergic reaction to the vaccine that would stop you travelling
  • Cancelling or cutting your trip short after hospitalisation or death of a member of your household from COVID-19

Am I covered if I travel against government advice?

It’s important that you check the FCDO’s travel advice regularly before you go on a trip, and while you’re away, as things can change.

If you have a trip to Europe planned, and the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential’ travel to your destination because of COVID-19, simply add the European FCDO Travel Advice Extension to your policy to travel with a level of cover. 

Travelling without this add-on to a country the FCDO have advised against ‘all but essential’ travel would invalidate your policy, even if travel advice changes when you are away as your destination was listed as unsafe when you first travelled.

To check your destination is safe to travel to take a look at the FCDO’s travel advice.

Important: Government enforced travel bans are different to FCDO travel advice. Government bans should not be ignored and travel insurance will not cover you for any travel during a travel ban.

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I, or someone I live with has tested positive for COVID-19:

You’ll only be covered by your travel insurance to claim for the cancellation of your trip because of COVID-19 if:

  • Your holiday or accommodation provider can’t offer you compensation or reimbursement for your holiday.

AND

  • You bought your travel insurance after 16 March 2020 for travel on or after 17 July 2020.

AND

  • You, a family member or travel companion, didn’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 when you booked your holiday or bought your travel insurance, whichever is later.

AND

  • Since booking your holiday or buying your cover, whichever is later, you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 from a registered medical practitioner in the 14 days before your departure. You will need a copy of your test result to support your claim.

Find out more about claiming

What happens if I get COVID-19 symptoms abroad?

If you get symptoms of COVID-19 while you’re away, and your destination was listed by the FCDO as safe when you travelled, you must follow UK and local government advice and give us a call as soon as you can. Our medical emergency team, who are multilingual, are available 24 hours a day, worldwide.

What to do if you’re denied boarding or your flights are cancelled:

If your airline doesn’t let you board your flight home, you’ll need to contact your airline or tour operator to get a refund or be offered an alternative flight.

If you’re refused boarding after testing positive for COVID-19, you can be covered if you bought your policy on or after 16 March 2020, for travel on or after 17 July 2020, as long as your destination was listed as safe to travel to by the FCDO when you set off.

If you bought your policy from 29 April 2021, you are also covered if you’re denied boarding for a temperature reading of 38 degrees Celsius or above.

My airline has cancelled my flights – what can I do?

Whether you’ve booked your flights through a travel agent or tour operator, or independently, it’s important you contact them first to see if they can offer you a refund or make changes to your trip.

If you’ve been offered alternative flights, give us a call and we’ll update your policy with your new travel dates to suit your new holiday plans.

What to do if your holiday can’t go ahead

You’ll need to contact your holiday provider if you are unable to travel due to restrictions in your area. You should be offered either a refund or alternative dates by your provider.

If you decide to travel against government advice, then your travel insurance will be invalid during this time and will not protect you.

If you need to update your policy because your trip has been affected, then you can find out how we can help you to change your travel plans below.

Changing your travel plans and your cover

Changing your holiday dates:

If your travel company has cancelled your trip because of COVID-19, then it will often be their responsibility to offer you an alternative holiday.

If you rebook a holiday, we can:

  • Change your single trip policy start date as long as it falls within 18 months from the date you bought your policy, or 24 months if you bought your policy from 29 April 2021. (If there is a significant change in your policy, like extending your trip duration, there may be an additional charge.)
  • Change your holiday destination to another country that is safe to travel to, as long as there is no increase in cost. If there is an increase in premium, you’ll need to pay the price difference to change your cover.

You can make either of these changes to your policy online using My Staysure to avoid administration charges when calling to make amendments.

If you need to make changes to your Single Trip Travel Insurance policy, please do so before you were originally due to travel.

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Claiming for cancelling your trip:

It’s important that you contact your travel provider first, before submitting your claim to us. Your travel provider may be able to offer you compensation if your holiday was cancelled because of COVID-19.

You’ll only be covered by your travel insurance to claim for the cancellation of your holiday if:

  • You bought your policy with the optional Travel Disruption Extension before 16 March 2020.

AND

  • There’s been no changes which have affected the price of your policy since 16 March 2020.

AND

  • There wasn’t a publicly known outbreak or quarantine in the resort you’re travelling to.

AND

  • The government, FCDO, WHO (World Health Organization) or local authorities haven’t issued any advice before you bought your policy with (or added) the optional Travel Disruption Extension.

AND

  • The FCDO has now, since buying your policy, advised against all or all but essential travel to your destination.

Claim on your cover

Cancelling your travel insurance policy

If you want to cancel your travel insurance policy, you can do so within the cooling off period (14 days from receiving your documents.) We can offer you either a full refund as a voucher for you to use at a later date, or a cash refund.

If you choose to cancel your Single Trip Travel Insurance policy outside of the 14 day cooling off period, you will need to do so before you were originally due to travel. After the 14 day cooling off period, you may receive a pro-rata credit refund of the amount you paid for your policy.

Any voucher credit will be valid for 36 months, as long as you haven’t travelled and haven’t or aren’t intending to make a claim. The voucher can be used to pay in full or part pay for future policies. More information about cancellations can be found here.

Your single trip policy has been covering you for cancellation from the moment you bought it. So, although it might feel like you’ve not used it because you haven’t been on holiday, or needed to claim, the cancellation part of your policy has been working to protect your holiday. 

Because of this,  the amount you’ll be refunded is unlikely to be the full value of your policy as you’ll only receive a refund for the unused part of your travel insurance.

*Subject to medical certification/test result. No cover if symptoms or diagnosis occurred prior to your policy purchase.

**Cover only applies for newly diagnosed cases while travelling.

***No cover if your relative was already hospitalised before you left on your trip.

Kelly Johnstone

by Kelly Johnstone

Kelly Johnstone is Staysure’s Head of Content. She’s known for a love of tea and shares data-driven and breaking travel news.