After two years of disruption, travel is very definitely back in 2022. But as we were warned, things aren’t quite the same as they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are still rules and restrictions to follow, depending on which country you are travelling to and from. Your freedom to travel is determined by your vaccination status. And while we’re all doing our best to live with this thing, COVID most definitely has not yet been defeated. There are risks involved with travelling, just as there are with pretty much anything that involves leaving your house and mixing with other people.
Travel insurance has also changed. There are new categories of cover related to COVID, new policy options, and new priorities for customers.
So when it comes to planning your next holiday, what exactly should you be looking for from travel insurance? Here are three things to put at the top of your shopping list.
The pandemic has changed attitudes towards travel insurance. Whereas many holidaymakers used to treat it as an optional extra, it is now widely seen as a must-have. Some travel insurance firms have reported selling double the number of policies in the early months of 2022 as they did in the same period of 2019.
Not only that, but people are also looking to spend more on better levels of cover. Whereas in the past many travellers simply bought the cheapest policy available for their trip, now we’re seeing more and more people base their choice on quality over price. Half of travellers over the age of 50, for example, now say they are happy to pay more for the best level of cover available.
Looking into what a policy does and does not cover you for means you won’t get any nasty surprises if you end up making a claim. More comprehensive policies are also more likely to cover you for things like travel delays and cancellations for a range of reasons, including things like hold ups en route to and at the airport.
When you buy single trip insurance, you are asked to provide details of your outbound and return travel dates. This means your cover is active for the duration of your trip between these dates.
But as we all know, nothing is exactly set in stone when it comes to travel right now. Whether it’s a positive COVID test taken as a condition of travelling to your destination, long delays at airports or flight cancellations, there are many reasons why your plans might change at the last minute.
Especially if you end up paying more for a comprehensive policy, it’s a double kick in the teeth if cancelled or rearranged travel plans mean you have to buy travel insurance all over again.
It therefore makes sense to look for policies that offer a little more flexibility. Some providers will allow you to change the dates of your single trip policy right up to the start date, meaning you can keep your insurance even if you end up having to go away at a completely different time.
When you see ‘COVID cover’ listed on a travel insurance policy, it’s easy to assume that that means all possible COVID-related reasons for making a claim. In all probability, it doesn’t. Most policies that advertise ‘COVID cover’ will offer you protection if you fall ill with the virus and need medical assistance while abroad, and if you test positive before you fly and have to cancel.
But for most cheaper policies, that will be it. And there are many more ways COVID can disrupt your holiday than that.
For example, some airlines and national border forces carry out random temperature checks. If you are found to have a fever, you may be refused boarding and/or barred from entering the country. A travel insurance policy that specifies cancellations for a positive COVID test but nothing more would not cover you. If you were barred entry at the border, you would have to pay for your own flight home.
That’s just one example of why it is still important to read exactly what ‘COVID cancellation’ means on individual policies. Again, if you want peace of mind that you will be protected for all eventualities, it’s better to look for a more comprehensive level of cover.