Which? believes that some of this is due to poor communication by travel insurance providers and the use of generic terms such as “Covid coverage” or “enhanced Covid coverage” on insurers’ websites.
a Which one? survey of more than 2,800 travel insurance customers between February and March found that three in 10 (29%) have committed to making bookings or arrangements for international travel this year.
More than one in 10 (12%) said that although they have not booked or arranged trips, they do have specific plans.
Which? asked people if they think their policies will cover them in certain scenarios, such as in the event of further lockdowns or if they need to self-isolate or test positive for coronavirus.
Half (50%) said they think they are covered if the Travel advice from the Scottish or British government change after a trip is booked, and nearly half (47%) believe their policy will cover them in the event that local or national closures prevent them from traveling.
Nearly half (46%) believe their policy will cover them if their airline or holiday company postpones their trip but does not offer a cash refund.
But when Which? analyzed 73 travel insurers between October and November 2020, and found that coverage for those three such cases — particularly when government travel advice changes — was very rare, with wide variances between policies.
The consumer group believes that little has changed in recent months.
As of March 2020, many insurers consider the pandemic a ‘known event’ and exclude Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cancellation coverage from new policies and for newly booked travel.
Which? found that customers with policies purchased after March 2020 are more likely to believe they are covered for these types of disruptions than customers who purchased policies before that time.
Two-thirds (65%) who had bought travel insurance less than six months prior to participating in the survey think they would be covered if the FCDO advice changes and advises against travel after they have booked their trip, while less than half (48%) of those who bought a trip more than a year ago polis did.
Which? said it believes providers should clearly present on their websites what is included and excluded in their Covid policies, and not bury exclusions in their “FAQs.”
Which? also urges the Department of Transport to work closely with the Treasury, sector regulators and industry to ensure all travelers understand their insurance coverage well and have access to coverage that protects them from FCDO advice related to the pandemic .
Jenny Ross, which one? money editor, said: “The continued threat of Covid-related disruptions means it is more important than ever to get the right travel insurance for your holiday.
“Without closer scrutiny from the UK government and regulators into how clearly insurers present their policies, there is a very real chance that many travelers will run out of money again this summer.”
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An Association of British Insurers (ABI) spokesperson said: “We urge people to read their policies to understand the scope of cover as policies bought after the pandemic has been declared are unlikely to be canceled due to Covid as it is a known risk and travel insurance is designed and priced to cover contingencies.
“Travelers should always be aware of and follow the government advice and border requirements of the country they are visiting. And always follow the advice of the FCDO to avoid invalidating your travel insurance policy.”
You can check the latest FCDO tour guidance here.
Travel insurance tips from Which?
Be aware of the variation in the amount of information insurers provide on their websites about their core coverage levels, especially in pandemic-related scenarios.
Terms such as Covid coverage or enhanced Covid coverage mean different things to different insurers, so avoid making assumptions – be careful if the information provided only states the benefits of the policy, not exclusions.
Some protections only apply to customers who insured their travel before the pandemic was declared last year.
Please take the time to read the policy schedule – especially review medical expenses, cancellations and the policy terms and conditions and exclusions. If there are any protections you would like, but you find the policy document confusing, please contact the insurer directly to confirm before booking.
Please refer to the insurance product information document for information on the main coverages and exclusions, although it will not tell you everything about the policy.
Look for a flexible booking policy for countries that change from ‘green’ to ‘orange’ or ‘red’ between booking and travel.
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