I’ve seen several comments on social media and in the press about people planning to go travelling overseas in July if flights resume. Frankly if you are one of these people, flight availability should be the least of your worries. Instead, you should be focusing on these five things.
Foreign office advice
If the foreign office advise against all but essential overseas travel this will likely invalidate your insurance. If you choose to ignore the advice and fall ill or sustain an injury, your insurance company will not foot the bill. This is equally true, even if your claim is not Covid related. Insurance claims for hospital cover cost on average £1,368 (Source: ABI) so this could be a costly blunder.
Travel insurance statistics
If you need medical repatriation, costs could run into thousands. 2018 statistics from the ABI highlight a whopping 153,000 Brits needed medical treatment abroad. Total costs for this treatment? A mere £209 million! To emphasize how quickly these costs can mount up, the ABI points to a number of examples. For instance, a cruise shop passenger suffered a stroke onboard. Emergency helicopter evacuation and treatment in the United States cost £118,000.
Despite this, ABTA estimates that in 2019, 38% of British holidymakers planned to travel without insurance. Their research found that 37% thought ‘they did not need insurance.‘ According to the FCO, 16% of travellers believe travel insurance to be unnecessary as they believe the UK government will pay for treatment!! Uh, why should the British taxpayer bail you out if you are stupid enough to skimp on a £30 policy!!
This infographic highlights some key misconceptions about travel insurance. However, let me be clear. If you cannot afford travel insurance, you should not travel!!
Keeping with the theme of travel insurance, this is not a luxury accessory, but rather an absolute must. Just check out this insurance post to see why. I’ve been rather unfortunate on my travels. I have needed hospital care on a few occasions. One time, I broke my collar bone which resulted in early repatriation. Another time, I needed additional airline seats due to a torn ACL. These treatments would have cost a fortune and for the sake of less than £100, why take the risk?
I usually book mine through Holiday Extras who will search the best deal for you but note, they will not offer terms currently due to the FCO advice to avoid all but non essential travel worldwide.
However, even if you set out to be a sensible adult you may find your plans thwarted.
Existing travel insurance policies
There have been some reports that insurance companies are refusing claims on the grounds of Covid. This is downright naughty and it will be interesting to see whether this is borne out in the quarterly complaints data from the Financial Ombudsman. My insurance company, Coverwise, contacted policyholders to let them know they WOULD be covered but many are not so customer focussed.
That said, many claims will fail due to exclusions which might incorporate a global pandemic. The infographic below shows that few people read their travel policies. Don’t be one of them as this could be a costly mistake!
New travel insurance policies
If you don’t currently have a plan in place, things are somewhat different. Some companies have withdrawn from the travel insurance market for now. Others have introduced tighter wording and exclusions for anything Covid related. This is probably a minor risk given infection rates but a risk you nevertheless need to weigh up. If you don’t have spare cash reserves to dip into should the worst occur, you should seriously reconsider your plans.
If your insurance will not cover this, how will you cover the cost? Do you really want to put your life in the hands of strangers on a crowdfunding platform?
The other big issue with travel currently is the imposition of quarantines by certain countries on arrival. For instance, this article on BBC highlights the requirement in both Greece and Ireland for mandatory quarantine on arrival. The British government is also still suggesting that you will need to quarantine for two weeks upon your return. A one week holiday could potentially require five weeks of leave. Who will cover the cost of quarantine in the destination country? Furthermore, do you really want to use all your annual leave in this way?
Get Your Guide has put together a one stop shop for holidaymakers who want to know which countries are open for visitors. It highlights which countries impose a quarantine but note, circumstances can change rapidly. Just look at this scenario that played out in New Zealand
On a more practical note, we travel to visit museums, enjoy the sun and indulge in great food and drink. A trip to the UK at the moment for an overseas visitor would seriously lack appeal with no bars and restaurants yet open. Even as lockdown eases, there may be few places open where you can eat and drink. Your dream holiday destination may turn out to be seriously dull!
To help you decide on a destination if you do decide to travel, Get Your Guide have created the Recovery Index. This tracks cities showing positive signs of recovery and may help to point you in the right direction.
A vastly changed travel experience
Finally, travelling in July is not going to be normal. You can expect to find much longer than anticipated queues due to social distancing measures and sanitation requirements. Many airport facilities may either not be open or have long queues to enter.
I’ve already seen a distinct lack of consideration for social distancing in our local village. How will airports cope when people experience their first taste of freedom in months? How do you fancy having to hunt for one of the few seats that are available due to social distancing restrictions?
Would you travel yet?
So much as I love my travel I think I will hold off to see how things settle. I see little point in wasting valuable holiday to go overseas and be quarantined on arrival. I also do not wish to risk my health by travelling uninsured.
But what would you do? Feel free to share in the comments.