Best Covid travel insurance 2023

 (Unsplash)
(Unsplash)

Covid-related travel restrictions have now been lifted across the most popular British holiday hotspots, including France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Malta.

Entry into any of these countries from the UK no longer requires proof of Covid vaccinations or a negative Covid test/proof of having had and recovered from the virus.

And in terms of returning to the UK, all Covid related restrictions were dropped back in March 2022.

However, Covid is still a consideration when it comes to overseas travel. For example, there’s still a lingering threat of catching Covid before the start of a holiday, or requiring medical treatment for the virus while away.

Using our travel insurance comparison tool, we’ve pulled together our pick of what we think are the best five travel insurance policies that include cover for Covid. Always conduct a fresh search at the time of choosing a policy.

 (TravelTime)
(TravelTime)

1. TravelTime PremierPlus - 5/5 stars

Premium: £32.32

Cancellation cover: Yes

Cover for Covid-related risks if travelling against FCDO advice: Yes (within some parts of Europe)

Why we picked it

Includes up to £4,000 for trip cancellation which extends to you, or a holiday companion insured on the policy, contracting Covid before departure.

Cover for the cost of emergency Covid-related medical treatment only applies if you are up-to-date with all Covid vaccination jabs (unless you are not eligible or exempt).

Covers travel against FCDO advice if the advice is solely related to Covid, and your holiday destination is one of the European countries listed in the policy wording.

Read the policy’s full terms and conditions.

Pros

  • Attractive premium

  • Cancellation cover if insured travel companion gets Covid

  • Limited cover against FCDO advice

Cons

  • No medical cover if unvaccinated

 (Insure & Escape)
(Insure & Escape)

2. Insure & Escape Finest Plus - 5/5 stars

Premium: £29.90

Cancellation cover: Yes

Cover for Covid-related risks if travelling against FCDO advice: Yes (within stated geographical areas)

Why we picked it

Covers travel against FCDO advice to destinations specified in the policy wording, and where the advice soley relates to Covid.

Cover remains valid if the FCDO doesn't advise against travel to your destination on departure, but this changes during your trip, and you are not instructed to return home.

Up to £5,000 included for trip cancellation. Pays out for cancellation if you, or a travelling companion, contract Covid within 14 days of departure, and standard medical treatment for Covid while away.

One of few policies that covers your airline going bust due to the virus. (Similar protection is available if you paid even the deposit for your holiday by credit card.)

A minimal excess of £50 is payable should you need to claim.

Read the policy's full terms and conditions.

Pros

  • Substantial cancellation cover (£5,000)

  • Low excess (£50)

  • Cover for cancellation/travel against FCDO advice if sole reason Covid

  • Cancellation cover if insured travel companion gets Covid

  • Cover if airline goes bust

Cons

  • No medical cover if unvaccinated

 (Admiral)
(Admiral)

3. Admiral Admiral Gold - 5/5 stars

Premium: £34.04

Cancellation cover: Yes

Cover for Covid-related risks if travelling against FCDO advice: No

Why we picked it

Pays out if you or a travel companion falls ill with Covid, or if a family member is hospitalised or dies from the virus before your departure date.

Includes £15 million for emergency treatment and arrangements to get you back home, and £3,000 for cancellation or curtailment.

Provides cover if you are denied boarding on departure due to showing Covid symptoms.

Read the policy's full terms and conditions.

Pros

  • Cover if symptoms while boarding

  • Cover for missed excursions if need to self-isolate abroad

  • Cancellation cover if family member is hospitalised/dies from Covid

Cons

  • Cancellation cover capped at £3,000

  • No cover for travel against FCDO advice

 (Cedar Tree)
(Cedar Tree)

4. Cedar Tree Premium Plus single Trip - 4.5/5 stars

Premium: £39.48

Cancellation cover: No

Cover for Covid-related risks if travelling against FCDO advice: No

Why we picked it

Covers medical treatment for Covid while away, and pays up to £5,000 in cancellation. Valid reasons for cancellation include you contracting the virus, or a family member or friend you were due to stay with falling ill with the virus.

Pays out if you are denied boarding at the airport (or cruise terminal) due to detected Covid symptoms, or if your airline or tour operator goes bust as a result of Covid.

Offers the joint cheapest excess on our list at £50.

Read the policy's full terms and conditions.

Pros

  • Low excess (£50)

  • Cover if symptoms while boarding

  • Cover if airline goes bust

Cons

  • No cancellation cover if insured travel companion gets Covid

  • No cover for travel against FCDO advice

 (Explorer Travel Insurance)
(Explorer Travel Insurance)

5. Explorer Travel Insurance Single Trip - Platinum - 4.5/5 stars

Premium: £33.31

Cancellation cover: Yes

Cover for Covid-related risks if travelling against FCDO advice: No*

Why we picked it

Includes up to £5,000 for trip cancellation and cutting your holiday short due to an emergency. Pays out for cancellation should you contract the virus and for medical and repatriation fees incurred, if you fall ill with the virus while away.

Covers costs incurred if your airline goes into administration due to the virus. (Note that similar protection is provided via your credit card, if you used it to pay for your holiday in part or in full.)

Cover remains valid if FCDO advice for your destination changes during your trip and you are not officially instructed to return home.

Read the policy's full terms and conditions.

Pros

  • Substantial cancellation cover (£5,000)

  • Still covered if FCDO advice changes once at destination*

  • Cover if airline goes bust

Cons

  • No medical cover if unvaccinated

Methodology

Using data from our travel insurance partner CYTI, we assessed policies on the following:

  • Cover for Covid-19-related risks: We looked at whether policies offer some form of cancellation cover in addition to medical and curtailment cover, to protect against Covid-related risks.

  • Cancellation cover: We looked at the cancellation cover provided to identify the most generous limits.

  • Cancellation excess: The lower the excess, the higher we rated the policy. No -excess policies scored best. An excess is the amount deducted from any successful claim.

  • Curtailment cover: Here we favoured policies which provide a higher level of cover to those who need to cut their holiday short.

  • Medical cover: The policies which performed best were those with a higher level of pay-out for medical costs.

  • Medical excess: Again, we favoured policies charging a low or zero excess.

  • Hospital benefit: Policies scored highly if they offered higher levels of this cover than other contracts.

To arrive at our top-5 ranking, we combined the scores for each company, giving added weight to policies providing cancellation cover, in addition to medical and curtailment cover for Covid-19-related risks. 

Holidays 2023: What you need to do

1. Check entry requirements at your destination

Most countries have now dropped all Covid-related entry restrictions, even for unvaccinated travellers. But always check regardless, both when you book your trip and again advance of your departure. And keep a close eye on developments as things can still change quickly.

2. Buy insurance when you book

One of the most important features of travel insurance is cancellation cover. Getting insured straight away means cancellation protection is in place from the get-go.

There are many reasons why you might need to cancel your trip, regardless of Covid. These include illness, bereavement, divorce and redundancy.

3. Check that the policy covers Covid

Nearly all (99%*) of insurance policies now include cover for risks linked to Covid-19 should you need medical treatment for the virus or need to cut your holiday short due to an problem related to the virus.

Many also include cover which allows you to make a cancellation claim should the virus stop you from taking your holiday. Almost 100% (95%*) cover cancellation due to a positive Covid test.

Also, 53%* will offer protection should you be denied boarding on your outward journey, but only 4%* will provide the same if you’re denied boarding on your return.

The specific circumstances for which you can claim vary between travel insurers. Check the details of a policy carefully before buying to avoid any potential for misunderstanding. If necessary, check with the provider directly.

4. Follow Government advice

It’s vital you check the government website for the latest travel guidance. Few insurers will cover you if you travel against the advice of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) . These include:

  • Avanti Travel Insurance

  • battleface

  • Cedar Tree

  • Churchill

  • CoverForYou

  • Direct Line

  • Outbacker

  • Staysure

  • Voyager Insurance

You are even less likely to be covered for cancellation of your holiday due to changes in the FCDO’s advice. Only 3%* of policies provide cover in this circumstance. These include policies from the following providers:

  • Avanti Travel Insurance

  • Churchill

  • Direct Line

If your holiday or flight is cancelled by your tour operator or airline, you should be offered a refund or alternative arrangements. Your policy will not pay out if you are able to get your money back by another method.

*Data from financial information business Defaqto

What protection does travel insurance provide?

Travel insurance policies typically cover the following as standard:

  • Medical expenses: Pays forhospital treatment or medical bills if you fall ill or have an accident

  • Personal liability: Meets the cost of claims made against you, if you’re found responsible for causing injury, death or damage while you’re away

  • Cancellation, curtailment and missed departures: Covers you against a holiday being cut short, or you end up not going away

  • Baggage and personal belongings: Covers claims for loss or theft of belongings. If items are stolen, these should be reported to the local police and an incident number obtained. Your policy may also stipulate that you should use a hotel safe if one is available.

There are various other reasons why you might need to claim on your travel insurance, including:

  • Gadgets: Claim for the loss, theft or damage done to devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops

  • End supplier failure: Reimbursement in the event your hotel, travel company, or airline goes into administration

  • Scheduled airline failure insurance (SAFI): You will be reimbursed the cost of your flight if the airline should go bust

  • Personal accident: Your policy will make a payment to you or to your estate if you are permanently disabled or killed in an accident while on holiday. Note, however, that some policies specify that they will not pay out if such an incident occurs if you are intoxicated through alcohol or drugs

  • Legal expenses: If you become embroiled in a legal dispute while you are away, your policy may contribute towards your legal costs, and you may be given access to expert legal advice.

FAQs

Can I buy travel insurance including cover for Covid-19-related risks with a pre-existing condition?

It depends on the provider but, yes, it is possible. Cover for Covid-19-related risks might include cancelling a trip because someone on the policy tested positive for coronavirus prior to travel, or for medical costs should coronavirus be contracted while away. Premiums tend to be more expensive for pre-existing conditions and the more severe the condition, the dearer the cover becomes. Check specific policy details before you buy.

Can I buy travel insurance including Covid-19 cover for travel within the UK?

Yes, a range of insurers provide this sort of cover for domestic travel. Again, the aim is that it pays out on cancelled trips should anyone named on the policy contract Covid-19 before going away.

What if I contract Covid-19 overseas?

Assuming you’ve got the requisite cover, contact your provider immediately and inform them. Your policy should meet the expenses of any medical support that’s required. But to avoid any surprises, check your policy details before travelling.

How do I get the NHS Covid pass?

The NHS Covid pass (or ‘vaccination passport’) is still required for travel to certain destinations overseas. To get one for travel abroad, you must be aged 16 or over, and have received one of the following:

  • two doses of the Moderna, AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine

  • one dose of the Janssen vaccine

  • proof of natural immunity shown by a positive PCR test result for COVID-19, lasting for 180 days after the date of the positive test and following completion of the self-isolation period.

Your vaccinations must have taken place in England.

You will typically receive your NHS Covid Pass within 24 hours of having your vaccination but it can take up to five days for your records to be updated.

You can access your NHS Covid pass via the NHS app or website, or request that you are sent a Covid Pass letter on the NHS website.

What if my airline goes out of business?

Airline failure is rarely covered under most standard travel insurance policies, so check your policy details. However, if your booking came with ATOL protection you are guaranteed a refund and you would also be found an alternative flight home.

How do I make a travel insurance claim?

When you head off on your travels, remember to pack your travel insurance policy number as well as relevant emergency contact information. Should a crisis arise, keep receipts for anything relevant you paid for, so that your paperwork is in good shape for when you make a claim.

Where applicable, get your insurer to agree to medical treatment before it’s carried out. Report lost or stolen items to the police within 24 hours of them going missing.