The holiday plans of thousands of Brits have been put on hold this summer with just 11 countries on the UK’s green travel list.
Portugal was downgraded to amber status on June 3 with transport secretary Grant Shapps citing a rise in Covid-19 cases and the presence of a mutation found in the country.
The UK government also does not recommend travel to Amber countries, with limited exceptions.
But are travellers covered by their travel insurance if they choose to go ahead with a holiday to an amber-listed country?
Does travel insurance cover amber countries?
It depends on the FCDO advice (which differs from the government’s traffic light list).
If you have booked travel to an amber country and the FCDO advises against travel to the destination you will be unable to take out a travel insurance policy.
Furthermore if you have taken out insurance for a green destination and it’s been downgraded to amber then your insurance policy will no longer be valid.
If the FCDO shifts its advice, most holiday providers will refund the cost of your trip. If they do not, you will either have to choose between travelling with no travel insurance and not travelling but losing the holiday.
Some companies may provide coverage for destinations where FCDO advises against visiting, but consumer watchdog Which? warns that this may not include cover for complete Covid-19 cover.
Money Supermarket explained the likelihood of receiving a refund from your insurer in the event of your destination’s status being changed.
It said: “If you are having to quarantine on your return from abroad, your travel insurer is unlikely to cover you – for example, for expenses incurred because you had to cancel an event that you can’t attend as you will be isolating.
“If you were due to travel to a country no longer on the exemption list and can no longer go because of having to quarantine on your return to the UK, your travel insurance is also unlikely to cover you. Check with the policy provider.
“If you choose to cancel your trip based on FCDO advice, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. This is so long as you took it out before the original FCDO blanket travel restrictions were in place.”
Who does provide cover for holidays to amber list countries?
Just Travel Cover work with leading travel insurers to provide travellers with insurance quotes prior to their holuday.
They underline that “travel insurance is not valid if you travel to a country where the FCDO have advised against all, or all but essential travel", and that their “policies continue to be based on the latest FCDO advice, and are not impacted by the Traffic Light system”.
They provide quotes from AIG, Avion, Insuratrip, AXA and Free Spirit Flex who all provide enhance Covid-19 coverage.
Six more tips for insurance
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) its worth taking a note of the following issues before booking a holiday and buying travel insurance
1. Always make sure it is safe to travel to your desired destination
Always check current Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice, as travelling against FCDO advice is likely to invalidate your travel insurance. Be aware of any quarantine requirements on your return to the UK – travel insurance will generally not cover costs associated with quarantining in Government-provided accommodation.
2. Buy travel insurance and make sure that it best meets your needs
The main reason for travel insurance is to cover the costs of emergency overseas medical treatment, which together with any repatriation required back to the UK, can easily run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
3. Check and be aware of any Covid-19 exclusions in your travel insurance
All ABI travel insurers will continue to provide cover for emergency medical treatment needed overseas, including emergency medical treatment related to Covid-19. However, policies are unlikely to cover cancellation due to Covid-19, as it was a known risk when the policy was taken out.
4. Be aware of, and comply with, travel requirements for entering overseas countries
It is your responsibility to comply with any border restrictions in place at your destination country. If you do not comply with these requirements, then you will need to return home, generally at your own cost.
5. Have your EHIC, or get a GHIC, if travelling to Europe
If you hold a current European Health Insurance Card (the EHIC entitles you to access state-provided healthcare when visiting the EU), this remains valid until its expiry date. After then, or if you do not have an EHIC, you will need to apply in the same way for a Global Health Insurance Card or GHIC.
Neither the EHIC or the GHIC is a replacement for travel insurance, as it will not cover you for all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.
6. Know your rights
Get as much information as you can, so that in the event of any travel problems, you know what you are entitled to. For example, check the refund policy of any accommodation provider, what you are entitled to if booking a package holiday, and what the legal obligations of the airline are if your flight is disrupted or cancelled.