Holidays 2020: Expert issues ‘difficult’ travel insurance warning to Britons

Travel insurance has always been a vital part of jetting off abroad. Getting the right cover can protect you and your finances should something go wrong with your holiday. The coronavirus pandemic saw many insurers cease to sell travel insurance due to the unpredictability of the crisis.

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However, many Britons are now busy booking holidays once again as hope for foreign travel rises.

It’s expected that the list of countries on the ‘air bridge’ list will be unveiled this week.

These travel corridors to countries such as Spain and France would mean Britons wouldn’t have to quarantine for two weeks on their return to the UK.

However, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has yet to change its travel advice.

The FCO current advises against all but non-essential travel.

Today, travel expert and journalist Alison Rice spoke to the BBC about the perils of buying travel insurance at this time.

She urged Britons to be very careful when examining their policy and to not plump for the cheapest options.

“When the pandemic broke back in March, a lot of insurance companies stopped selling travel insurance,” said Rice.

“They’re coming back onto the market now, but it’s one of those tedious jobs you really have to read the small print as to whether or not you’ll get any sort of cover, should you get the virus and have to cancel your holiday or should you catch it abroad.

“It’s a difficult one, and my advice would be the cheaper travel insurance policies probably won’t cover you.”

Rice also cautioned that travellers won’t be covered if they choose not to travel despite the government allowing it.

The travel expert explained: “Of course the really difficult one is if you have reservations about travelling abroad but your holiday goes ahead but you cancel because you don’t want that experience of the airport, the airline and the destination with all the new regulations.

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“If you choose to cancel, you won’t get your money back.”

A helpful way to cover health needs while away is to make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card, also known as an E111 card.

Nevertheless, Rice warned it does not function as a substitute for travel insurance.

“The only thing I can say is we are still in the EU,” she said, “so you can get a free E111 card, which entitles you to the state-provided health care that the citizens in European countries get should they be ill.

“It doesn’t replace travel insurance at all but it’s worth getting and if you go on a website, and they want to charge you for an E111 that’s a scam.

“It’s free – go on the NHS website to get it but it doesn’t cover travel insurance.”

Rice added that those with annual travel insurance are likely covered – but not those who have recently bought a policy.

“I think if you took out the annual travel insurance say back in January and February, you would be covered,” she said.

“But anyone that took one out as soon as the pandemic started really needs to read the small print.”

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