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Travel insurance: can you get cover for coronavirus?



Saga has become the latest insurance company to reintroduce emergency medical cover for coronavirus (Covid-19)to its travel policies, which will be valid once the Foreign Office lifts its advice against all non-essential travel.


From now on, cover for medical treatment and repatriation to the UK will be included as standard in all its travel policies, even for those with underlying health conditions.


Like many other travel insurance companies, over 50s specialist Saga  withdrew cover for coronavirus after it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.


The insurance firm said it was reintroducing corona cover now because 74% of customers said they wouldn’t buy insurance if it wasn’t included.


Other travel insurance companies to have re-introduced medical treatment for coronavirus as standard include Staysure and Holiday Extras.


However, insurance companies will no longer cover travel disruption caused by coronavirus for new policy holders, so if your trip is cancelled or curtailed, your policy won’t pay out.


Holidaymakers who bought travel insurance before coronavirus was declared a pandemic should still be covered for disruption, unless this was an exclusion included in their policy at the time of purchase.


Those with an insurance policy that comes with a current account should be covered for existing holiday bookings, even if they choose to postpone their departure until later this or next, as long as they keep the same booking reference number and, of course, the bank account. However, to be certain, they’d need to check the terms and conditions of their policy.


I can’t travel yet, should I buy insurance?


The Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential travel, which means that travel insurers won’t provide any cover if you decided to go abroad at the moment.


This doesn’t mean that you don’t need travel insurance though.


If you’ve booked a holiday, travel insurance will cover you if you need to cancel for a number of reasons, such as a serious illness, a death in the family, or you lose your job. Always read the T&Cs before buying to check you’ve got the cover you need.


What if my trip is cancelled due to coronavirus?


Your insurance is unlikely to refund you unless you bought your policy before mid March, but if you bought a package holiday your travel provider should give you a full refund and if you bought a flight from the UK or back to the UK on a European airline you’ll be entitled to your money back.


What if my trip is cut short due to coronavirus?


Again, you ‘re unlikely to get disruption cover with any new travel insurance policies, but if you’re on a package holiday your travel provider should arrange your flight home and give you a pro-rata refund for the unused days of your holiday. If you’re travelling with an EU airline, it should transfer your reservation to another flight.


What if my travel insurance doesn’t include medical cover for coronavirus?


If you’re travelling within the EU or Australia, you’ll be able to get emergency medical treatment free of charge with an EHIC (but this doesn’t cover repatriation or any other costs) until December 31. However, EHICs won’t be valid when the UK’s Brexit ‘transition’ agreement with the European Union expires at the end of the year.


Linsey McNeill

A journalist and travel writer of 35 years' standing, a once-a-week yogi, terrible skier and out-of-order mum to 2 teens. Previously Editor of TravelMole.com, bylines also include The Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, the London Evening Standard, Which? and The South China Morning Post.

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