Life & Culture

Is my summer holiday covered for Covid-19?

Our personal finance expert answers your questions


Travel insurance label is put on luggage. Travel insurance is intended to cover medical expenses, lost luggage and other losses incurred while traveling.

Q: We want to go abroad this summer. Will we be covered by travel insurance if we have to cancel at the last minute because of Covid? What if we travel to an amber or red zone country?’


A: Travelling outside the UK is going to be a challenge this year, as thousands of people found out last week when Portugal was taken off the green list without warning.

Whether you are travelling to Israel, Spain or Florida, there are two key lists you need to check. Most important is the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice checklist. If the FCDO advises against non essential travel to your country of choice, then your travel insurance will not cover you. Not just for Covid but any travel disaster!

The other is the Covid traffic light system detailing the level of quarantine and number of Covid tests required on your return to the UK after a holiday abroad. These lists do not necessarily match up, and from an insurance perspective the FCDO list is the more important. That means your insurance will cover you if you choose to travel to a country on the Covid amber or red list, provided the FCDO does not advise against travel. However you would have to meet the cost of quarantine and Covid tests yourself.

At the time of writing, the FCDO allowed non essential travel to the Canary Islands, even though Spain is an amber listed country. This means you could holiday there without invalidating your insurance, but would need to self isolate for ten days and take several Covid tests on your arrival back in the UK at your own expense.

If you do still want to travel then check the Covid cover offered by your insurer — or choose one with the widest cover.

Insurers typically cover for emergency medical treatment and repatriation if you catch Covid while abroad and an increasing number including the Post Office, FreeSpirit Travel and cover cancellation due to Covid in a range of circumstances. Insurers won’t cover you if you just decide you don’t want to travel for fear of catching Covid without official restrictions.

Many tour operators are also offering customers Covid cover and flexibility against cancellations. For example Tui allows eligible customers who catch Covid pre departure, officially need to isolate or are locally locked down, to amend their holiday free of charge. It also offers medical insurance if a customer contracts Covid while on holiday.

Remember Covid isn’t the only disaster that can ruin your holiday. Your luggage could be lost or you could have an accident. So make sure your insurance covers all these eventualities. If you are going to America, a minimum £5 million medical emergency cover is recommended as the US healthcare system is notoriously pricey. Also check expensive items such as laptops and phones are covered by your travel policy or the all-risks section of your contents insurance, before you take them with you.

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