We know this is an uncertain time for many people who are traveling, whether you already have cover in place, or are looking to find cover for an upcoming trip. We’re here to provide you with the most up to date information and help answer some of the most common queries.
What's the latest news?
- On 17th March the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all international travel for 30 days. However, on, 4th April the FCO updated its guidance to advise against all international travel for an indefinite period.
- The FCO has previously advised against all but essential travel to:
- All international travel (from 17th March until 16th April)
- Kosovo, North Korea, Panama, Mongolia, Philippines, Gabon, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Seychelles, India, Ukraine, and Austria (from 17th March)
- Montenegro, Malta, Lithuania, Slovenia, The Bahamas, Belize, South Africa, Myanmar, Honduras, Ecuador, Vietnam, St Lucia, Malaysia, Georgia, Trinidad and Tobago, Egypt, North Macedonia, Uruguay, Lebanon, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Hungary, and Kenya (from 16th March)
- Spain (including the Canary Islands), USA, Sri Lanka, Paraguay, Guatemala, Ghana, El Salvador, Latvia, Ecuador, Cyprus, Andorra, Malawi, Morocco, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, East Timor, Estonia, Romania, and Norway (from 15th March)
- Colombia, Jamaica, Estonia, Argentina, Peru, Poland, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Albania, Archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, Denmark, Czech Republic and Slovakia (from 14th March)
- San Marino, some areas of Spain; Madrid and La Rioja, and the municipalities of La Bastida and Vitoria (both in the Basque Country) and Miranda de Ebro (in Castilla y León) (from 13th March)
- Italy (from 9th March)
- Mainland China (from 28th January)
- all travel to the Hubei Province and to the cities of Daegu, Cheongdo, and Gyeongsan in South Korea (from 23rd January)
- The UK has entered into a 'lockdown' period, asking everyone to only leave their home for limited reasons such as shopping for basic necessities, exercising once per day any medical needs or travelling for work purposes.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on 11th March 2020 that the coronavirus has now been classified as a pandemic. Some travel insurance providers will specifically exclude cover relating to a pandemic, so it is important to check your policy, and speak with your travel insurance provider if you are unsure.
- The USA has temporarily suspended all flights to and from most of the EU, excluding the United Kingdom from 13th March 2020, for 30 days. This travel ban will be now extended to the United Kingdom from 16th March 2020.
- As the virus continues to spread, some airlines have temporarily suspended flights to affected areas including British Airways suspending flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai, and Ryanair suspending flights to Italy.
The latest guidance from the FCO on traveling to affected areas can be found here.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised against travel to all international destinations, can I get still cover?
On 17th March 2020, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all but essential international travel for 30 days. Then, on 4th April 2020, the FCO updated its guidance to advise against all international travel for an indefinite period.
It is not yet known when the FCO will change its guidance, however, it's likely to be when countries are able to successfully reduce the impact of COVID-19 and it is safe to travel again.
It is very unlikely that any travel insurance provider will be unable to cover you if, at the time of your trip, the FCO is advising against all or all but essential travel to your destination.
You can find details of FCO advice for all countries here
You can also find details of the Financial Conduct Authority's guidance for the impact of COVID-19 on insurance here.
What happens if I take out cover, and then the FCO change their advice to advise against all, or all but essential travel to my destination?
If you already have cover in place, and the FCO change their advice to advise against all travel, or all but essential travel to your destination – then it’s best to contact your travel insurance provider straight away for guidance.
Whilst some travel insurance providers may be able to provide cover if you took out your policy before the FCO changed their advice, some may not cover you regardless of when you took your policy out.
As the coronavirus has now been classified as a pandemic, you may find that there are additional cover restrictions in place.
If you are unsure, please contact your travel insurance provider who will be able to provide guidance.
I’m worried about travelling to a destination affected by the coronavirus, but the FCO hasn't advised against travel there, does my travel insurance cover against cancellation?
If you are worried about travelling to a destination due to the virus, but the FCO is not advising against travelling to the destination you are going to, it’s unlikely that you’ll be covered for cancellation.
Even if the FCO does advise against travelling to your destination, there may still be cover restrictions in place now that the coronavirus has been classified as a pandemic.
It’s best to have a chat with your travel insurance provider if you are unsure.
I'm due to visit the USA shortly, what do I do?
On 14th March 2020, the USA announced that they will be extending their 30 day travel ban to include the United Kingdom with effect from midnight (EST) on Monday 16th March 2020.
If you are due to travel during this period, please contact your airline, or tour operator who should, in the first instance reschedule your flight or offer you a refund.
On 15th March 2020 the FCO also advised against all but essential travel to the USA.
Now that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been classified as a pandemic, what impact is there on travel insurance cover?
On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) changed the classification of coronavirus from an epidemic to a pandemic. The WHO define an epidemic as a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease beyond what would be normally expected, whilst a pandemic is a disease that has spread in multiple countries around the world, usually affecting a large number of people.
Many travel insurance policies will specifically exclude any cover related to a pandemic, which in this case, means cover for coronavirus. This may impact any claims you make relating to coronavirus, including cancellation, travel delay or medical expenses cover.
However, cover will vary from provider to provider, so it’s really important that you check your policy wording thoroughly, and, if you are unsure, speak with your travel insurance provider who can give you guidance on what they can, and cannot cover you for.
It’s also important to remember, that whilst coronavirus related cover may be restricted, other cover mayl still apply for your policy, such as if you fall ill and are unable to travel, or need medical assistance for other conditions.
My flights have been cancelled by my airline, am I covered?
If you find that your flights have been cancelled by your airline, then they should be able to offer you alternative arrangements to a different destination, move your dates or even offer a refund. If your flights have been cancelled when you’re on your way back to the UK, the airline has a duty of care to make sure they get you home safely.
But if they can’t do this, get in touch your travel insurance provider – who can provide you with guidance. If the flights have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, you may find that there are cover restrictions in place as the virus has now been classed as a pandemic, which many travel insurance providers will be unable to cover.
My airline has fallen into administration, am I covered?
If you have either Scheduled Airline Failure, or End Supplier Failure on your policy, and your airline falls into administration, you should be covered for your flight costs. It’s best to contact your travel insurance provider to see how they can help.
If you booked your cover through a travel agent, or paid using a credit card, you may also be able to get help from either your travel agent, or your credit card provider.
What about my booked accommodation?
It’s not just airlines that are cancelling flights, it’s hotels and other accommodation too – even in areas that the FCO hasn’t advised against travelling to. If that does happen then the hotel should give you a refund.
If you have End Supplier Failure, which should help you should your accommodation provider collapse, there may be cover on your policy. However, you may find that there are cover restrictions in place as the virus has now been classed as a pandemic, which many travel insurance providers will be unable to cover.
Can I extend my cover if I’m abroad and am stuck due to the coronavirus?
If you are stuck in another country and cannot come home on your arranged return date due to the coronavirus then, depending on your policy, your cover may be extended.
This could be done if you’re hospitalised and need medical treatment, if your transport is delayed or cancelled and finally, if you can’t return home for a reason outside of your control.
You may find that there are cover restrictions in place as the virus has now been classed as a pandemic, which many travel insurance providers will be unable to cover. It’s best to contact your travel insurance provider as soon as possible to find out if they can extend your cover.
Can I cut my trip short and return home?
Usually, you would not be covered for cutting short your trip for “fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection, or allergic reaction” so we recommend that if you booked your trip with a tour operator to speak to them if you believe your destination is affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
If you have booked your trip independently it’s best to check that your flights are still running, as there have been cancellations.
Some travel insurance providers will cover you if you are forced to cut your trip short when adhering to FCO advice – however, it’s best to contact your travel insurance provider for guidance on what is and is not covered.
What if I'm returning home to the UK?
If you have travelled to the UK from the destinations listed below and you are experiencing shortness of breath, cough or fever symptoms then the UK Chief Medical Officers strongly advises that you stay indoors and call the NHS 111 line to inform them of your symptoms and latest travel destinations.
It is also recommended that you avoid contact with other people until seeking further medical advice.
- Italy (outside specific areas in northern Italy) before 9 March
- mainland China outside of Hubei province
- South Korea outside of Daegu, Cheongdo and Gyeongsan
- Hong Kong
If you don’t have any symptoms but have travelled to the below areas, then it is also recommended that you stay inside and call the NHS 111 line too:
- anywhere in Italy on or after 9 March
- specific areas in northern Italy in the last 14 days
- Iran in the last 14 days
- Hubei province in China in the last 14 days
- Daegu, Cheongdo or Gyeongsan in South Korea in the last 14 days
I’m already travelling through affected areas – how do I get help?
If you are a British traveller stuck in an affected area, you can contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate for help. You can find their details here.
Remember that most travel insurance providers will have a 24-hour medical helpline, so if your enquiry is urgent and you feel that you have been taken ill by the coronavirus we strongly recommend you call them and tell them about your situation as soon as you can.
If you think you have symptoms of the Coronavirus, then we advise you call the 111 NHS line for further help.
This guide will be updated in the future as and when new events unfold. The information in the guide is correct as of the 09/04/2020 and may be subject to change as news progresses.