There’s always been risk inherent in travel. Incurring costs through a sudden curtailment that requires a dash home is arguably the biggest one right now if you are trying to get away in Europe. So, what happens if your home country puts restrictions in place while you're away – will your travel insurance cover you for any additional costs in getting home or missing work?
One minute you can be enjoying a cocktail on some idyllic Mediterranean beach and the next you’re trying to work out how to shorten your trip to get home in order to avoid an unwanted two-week extended vacation in your home country. I haven’t come across a travel insurance policy that specifically covers this, and several specifically state they won’t cover for it. However, you should speak to your insurer if you have incurred costs returning, for example, to the UK from France if you booked your trip before the pandemic began. The insurer may consider your claim, but it’s on a case-by-case basis. Even if your claim is considered you should only expect to have travel costs covered.
Bear in mind that we are in a fast-moving situation with regards to what is and is not covered by travel insurance and the situation will also differ from country to country. As most insurers point out, the easiest route to getting money back is through the airline or tour operator you booked with. With flexible booking in place almost across the board you’ll find it easier than usual to change your flights with your airline or holiday operator and get refunds, vouchers or flexible rebooking. If this isn’t possible, then it’s going to be down to individual insurers’ policy wording and what kind of cover you have. Generally speaking, annual policies will give you more cover, and the longer you’ve had the policy the more likely it is you’ll find a sympathetic insurer, but it’s by no means a given.
Despite this slightly gloomy and uncertain message, travel insurance remains hugely worth having – but check what you’re getting, and look for companies with detailed COVID cover that goes beyond simply getting ill and includes getting stuck. Be aware, as always, of a few things. Firstly, deciding you don’t want to travel – or disinclination to travel, as the industry calls it – is not enough of a reason to cancel a trip and claim money back. Secondly, traveling to countries that your government advises against visiting will usually invalidate your insurance. Thirdly, a specialist travel insurance policy is superior to one that comes as an add-on benefit to having a credit card.
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