COVID-19 has dominated our lives day in, day out for the past two years. But finally, things are starting to feel different.
In the UK at least, all official COVID restrictions and rules have been lifted. We’re no longer being advised to work from home. We can meet up with as many people as we want in bars and restaurants. There’s no obligation to wear a mask if we don’t want to. And yes, we are free to go on holiday and travel abroad again.
Although as far as travel is concerned, it’s not quite without restrictions. The UK may have decided to abolish all rules around both outbound and inbound travel. But not many other countries have followed suit as things stand.
Sure, things are much more relaxed even than they were at the start of 2022 when there was still a lot of concern about the spread of the Omicron variant. But the majority of countries still have COVID-related entry requirements of one sort or another in place.
For example, many countries have different rules in place depending on whether you are fully vaccinated or not. If you have had both your jabs (and, in some cases, a booster too), there is now a long list of countries you can travel to needing only to prove your vaccination status.
If you are not fully vaccinated, you will have to take a COVID test to get into the majority of countries. Some, including hugely popular tourist destinations like Spain, won’t let you in at all. And others such as the United States and Australia not only won’t allow unvaccinated visitors in, they also still require fully vaccinated travellers to provide proof of a negative COVID test.
The case for travel insurance
Certainly for any country where you will have to take a COVID test before you arrive, travel insurance that covers you for COVID-related cancellations remains essential. A positive test for you or anyone in your party, children included, means you can’t go. At such a late stage, you are unlikely to be able to claim any money back from your airline or travel agent. Insurance is your best bet for covering the cost of your cancelled holiday.
Fortunately, the vast majority of travel insurance policies do now include cover for COVID cancellations. It’s become such a common theme of international travel over the past two years that insurers can’t afford not to offer it.
What you do need to take care with, however, is making sure that the payout limits on cancellations cover the full cost of your holiday. There’s little point taking out the cheapest possible insurance on a major splurge holiday somewhere exotic only to find the cancellation limit barely covers half the cost of your trip when you test positive. You miss out on a dream holiday and are left out of pocket.
Another compelling reason to take out travel insurance that includes COVID cover is the risk of catching the virus and falling ill while you are away. Stubbornly high case and hospitalisation numbers show it is still very much a risk, no matter how much we want to get on with living with it. If you fall ill enough to need to seek medical assistance while abroad, you will have to pay for it. Hospital treatment for foreign visitors in most countries is notoriously expensive.
Again, nearly all travel insurance policies will pay out on emergency medical costs should you fall ill with COVID and need treatment. What is less common is clauses that will cover the costs of rebooking a flight home if you miss yours because you are too ill or self-isolating. Or similarly, the costs of extending your accommodation booking because you are self-isolating.
Travel insurance policies that cover these things are readily available, but you will have to do a bit more shopping around and read exactly what different policies include.
Finally, although everyone has their fingers crossed that we have left lockdowns behind, they cannot be ruled out completely. If the country you are travelling to imposes restrictions which mean your trip cannot go ahead, there is no requirement for either your airline or travel agent to offer you a refund.
Again, you would have to shop around for a travel insurance policy that covered cancellations for these reasons. But for extra peace of mind, you may well decide it’s worth the effort.