More holiday options could be opened up to travellers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as quarantine rules for amber list countries look set to be scrapped.
Ministers are expected to meet on Thursday (8 July) to sign off a policy allowing UK holidaymakers to visit destinations on the amber list without having to self-isolate when they return.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be in favour of introducing the new rules in England on the so-called “freedom day” on 19 July, to coincide with the lifting of all other measures.
It is expected that fast-track lanes will be put in place at airports for fully vaccinated arrivals, with Heathrow Airport to run a pilot scheme this month to test the logistics. Passengers will be asked to show proof of their vaccination status at airport check-in and again on arrival back in the UK, and will be able to upload their coronavirus vaccination certificate before boarding.
While plans are being put in place to make travel less restrictive, there are still huge numbers of people who are yet to receive their Covid-19 vaccination, while some may choose to forgo getting vaccinated entirely. As such, the 10-day quarantine rule would still be in place for people who have not received both vaccine doses and with most popular holiday spots still on the amber list, it severely limits the viable options for a foreign trip this summer.
But if people do decide to travel abroad despite not being fully vaccinated, what effect would this have on travel insurance? Here’s what you need to know.
Can I get travel insurance if I haven’t been vaccinated?
People who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 will still be able to get travel insurance when heading abroad.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it is not aware of the market introducing any exclusions related to vaccination status, but recommended people check their policy closely before travelling to make sure they are covered.
However, if people travel to countries against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice, ABI warns that the travel policy will likely be invalidated.
An ABI spokesperson told NationalWorld: “Make sure to read your policy so you are aware of the scope of cover, as policies bought after the pandemic was declared are unlikely to cover cancellation as a result of Coronavirus as it is a known risk.
“It is important that people wanting to travel abroad take out travel insurance when booking their trip to cover them for any unforeseen emergencies, including falling ill with any other illness.
“People travelling should make sure they follow FCDO advice to avoid invalidating their travel insurance.
“Travellers should also be aware of border requirements of the country they are visiting, and any quarantine requirements on their return to the UK.
Unvaccinated travellers are also unlikely to face any premium costs for insurance, as this should not be factored into the price of your cover.
However, it is possible that insurance providers may build this element into the cost of their policies in the future.
Will I be covered in major tourist spots like Europe and the US?
Holidaymakers hoping to visit the likes of Spain, Greece and many other popular tourist spots in the near future will still be able to travel if they are not fully vaccinated, although travellers should be aware they may face strict quarantine requirements.
Helen Chambers, travel insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket explained to NationalWorld: “Entry requirements for each country can vary so make sure you do your research and are clued up ahead of booking any trips.
“Some countries are more relaxed in welcoming travellers from the UK and will accept the NHS vaccine passport as proof of your jab. The majority of countries including Spain and Greece aren’t asking for tourists to be fully vaccinated, but the process is certainly easier if you’ve had two jabs.
“Most countries in Europe have confirmed that British travellers can prove their vaccination status by using the NHS app – you can even get a paper version of this by calling 119.
“But, in order to qualify for vaccine passports or vaccination certificates, you must have had two vaccines.”
What happens if I get Covid while on holiday?
Taking out travel insurance is hugely important to protect against unexpected costs, particularly if people fall ill with Covid-19 while abroad - a risk which is arguably greater for those who have not been vaccinated.
Dale Robinson, from travel insurance provider Just Travel Cover, explained to NationalWorld: “Specifically regarding Covid-19, travel insurance can provide a safety net, for example if you contract the virus, lose a relative or are told to isolate before you go - and need to cancel - or you need emergency medical treatment abroad, an extended stay in hospital may also mean you need additional accommodation expenses and a return flight, all of which can be costly if you don’t have travel insurance in place.
“Travel Insurance provides peace of mind that you’re protected. Also, the big thing people don’t think about is the cost of repatriation - being flown home from your holiday destination, often with a medical professional - if your stay has been extended due to hospital treatment. An air ambulance home from Spain, for example, could cost around £20,000.”
What are the risks of travelling abroad without travel cover?
The purpose of taking out travel insurance is to cover the cost of potentially very expensive overseas medical bills, which may include Covid-related treatment.
Hannah Isitt, travel insurance expert at GoCompare, told NationalWorld: “Travel insurance doesn't just cover Covid related things but also protects policyholders against the unexpected, such as non-Covid related injuries or illness as well as lost luggage, theft of money or valuables, loss of travel documents, cancellation or curtailment, personal accident and optional cover for activities or sporting.
“It is important you always buy travel insurance as soon as you book a holiday to ensure that you are properly protected anyway, but particularly now to ensure that your medical expenses are covered.
“Some insurers are providing enhanced Covid-19 cover which protects against cancellation should you fall ill with Covid-19 14 days before travel.”
All travel insurers will normally provide cover for emergency medical treatment, including for Covid-19, but again, people should check for any coronavirus exclusions in their policies.
ABI has warned that policies are unlikely to cover cancellation of holidays due to Covid-19, as it was a known risk when the policy was taken out, so people should be aware of this before they book.
An ABI spokesperson added: “The new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) does provide people with some cover and the same medically necessary state-provided healthcare that you were able to access with an EHIC when travelling to the EU, but this should not be 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.”
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