Holiday Travel and Sports Travel Insurance

At the time of writing, anyone who has had two doses of the UK approved Covid-19 vaccine will not have to quarantine when returning from ‘amber list’ countries unless the day 2  Covid-19 PCR test is positive (children under 4 do not need to take this test). However, you will still need to quarantine if returning from France. This is great news for people who want or need to travel, but with cases predicted to rise to 100,000 a day after 19 July there is a very real chance that travellers could contract Covid-19 and have to stay at home or that travel plans are disrupted due to Covid-19.  It is imperative now more than ever that clients get broad and appropriate travel insurance that will respond to unique risks presented by the pandemic.

Insurance brokers are now increasingly busy with international travel quotations.  Many insurance policies will now have elements of cover relating to Covid-19, but there is a huge difference between the wordings currently on offer. 

Risks from Covid-19 and new and constantly changing travel restrictions have introduced a whole new raft of cover requirements for travel insurance.  Very few insurers offer comprehensive or broad coverage relating to Covid-19.

The situation is further complicated by the apparent contradiction between FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) travel advice and the government’s traffic light system. While the government won’t be advising against holidays to amber list countries, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) still advises against all but essential travel to some of these destinations. In many cases, this would completely invalidate a standard travel insurance policy. 

Insurers rely on the FCDO advice in their wordings, but many do also now have exclusions based on the traffic light system.  For example many BIBA brokers are finding that commonly clients want to go to Spain to check on second homes, but many insurers exclude Spain currently.  

Insurers traditionally will not provide cover for any areas excluded for travel by the FCDO, but Jackson Lee last month launched its travel policy with an enhancement to it’s Covid-19 cover as an optional extension. It covers cancellation and medical expenses costs for those travelling to countries in Europe even where the FCDO has advised against ‘all but essential’ travel due to the assessment of Covid-19 risk, as long as they have been fully vaccinated.  The most common question brokers are being asked is, if a customer catches Covid-19 abroad will they be covered?  The answer now can be ‘yes’.

It covers several other Covid-19 related scenarios that are not covered as standard in the majority of travel insurance products such as cancellation due to the failure to complete your vaccine course due to illness, adverse reaction to Covid-19 vaccines within 14 days of your scheduled departure date, and cancellation due to being told to self isolate by the UK Government’s Test and Trace service.

This is in addition to the standard cover for Covid-19 emergency medical treatment, repatriation costs and any extra travel and accommodation expenses aboard if you catch Covid-19.  Children who have not been vaccinated will also be covered under the policy as long as they are under 18, have not refused a vaccine when offered one and the Government hasn’t announced the vaccine roll out to under 18s.

If clients are likely to take more than two trips a year, it is probably also worthwhile investing in annual multi-trip insurance rather than a single-trip policy. 

It has never been cheaper to get travel insurance, with some single-trip policies only costing around £5 on aggregator sites, but what has become increasingly clear to the public post Covid-19 and post Brexit, is that cheapest is not best.  People are now increasingly aware thanks to national media coverage on the issue that cheap cover is likely to be woefully inadequate.  They are also increasingly aware of the importance of disclosure on medical conditions; pre-existing conditions is now a far more mature market.  Jackson Lee approaches pre-existing conditions by assessing the stability of the condition and how well controlled it is and conditions like long Covid-19 will be no exception to this.

Covid-19 has undoubtedly highlighted the importance of using a broker and the value of their advice but it’s not just Covid-19 which has introduced complexity to the product.  Following Brexit, brokers will also be able to advise on other aspects including the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) (previously the European Health Insurance Card – EHIC) when travelling to the continent, and other such requirements.  The GHIC won’t cover the cost of repatriation, so brokers should make it clear that this shouldn’t be relied upon exclusively in the event that clients fall ill or suffer an accident abroad.  Quality travel insurance with suitable advice from a broker has never been so important and this all represents a great opportunity for the personal lines broking market right now.