Coronavirus: Should I get travel insurance now?

Hello everyone! A little bonus this week because I’ve had a few questions from friends who have travel booked, don’t have insurance and are worried about the potential effects of coronavirus on those plans now it appears to be worsening.

It’s been something at the forefront on my mine – I’m happily covered but with travel to Asia upcoming I am wondering if I’m going to be needing it.

In short – you want to get covered immediately.

The reason for this is because if the FCO changes their advice on travelling to a location you’re going, the effectiveness of your insurance will kick in at the point the advice is issued. Simply put if you’re insured before you should be ok – if you’re not, you’re likely out of luck.

What do I need to think about when getting insurance?

Well the comparison sites are generally your friend here. However insurance is an area where you shouldn’t simply go for a cheapest deal – the amount of coverage can vary enormously and it’s important to take a look at check it meets your needs.

The kind of things to look at are what amount is covered in terms of cancellation costs, medical bills and if there are any exclusions which may be specific to your plans. You also want to make sure it covers the locations you’re travelling to.

It’s also worth paying attention to the excess, which is an amount of loss you may have to absorb yourself when making a claim. You want this to be as low as possible, and the higher it is the cheaper you expect the policy to be to compensate. A balance is generally helpful.

Unhelpfully, a number of insurers in the present crisis are putting in extra clauses or requiring add on’s with regard to “travel disruption” – you need to read these sections or what you’re getting extra carefully to understand exactly what you are or aren’t covered for. This is important for all, but especially for those going to an affected area.

What if I have insurance already?

It’s worth doing a double check on what your policy covers to make sure your coverage is appropriate. This is especially true when your insurance is part of a bundled account (I.E your bank account comes with free travel insurance). These sound good in theory but sometimes the policy can be a bit skimpy in practice.

Aeroplane Landing

When should I get insurance in more normal times?

Increasingly, people are taking out very short term policies that only cover their literal days of travelling or only take out their policy right before they physically go on the journey.

Don’t do this! It’s worth taking out the policy as soon as you’ve got something booked. A year’s policy isn’t much more expensive than these short policies and it will provide coverage if something you can’t control causes changes to your trip, which can actually be far more likely than something going wrong on it!

Where should I get insurance?

I’m not going to recommend specific policies because it’s very much based on “your needs”. However I do recommend using comparison sites as a basis:

MoneySupermarket is where I got mine, and managed to get a good policy with Virgin Money that was slightly cheaper than going direct through a special deal. Comparethemarket offers a similar service and also has the advance of if you buy a policy you get access to Meercat Movies/Meals (a nice perk if they happen to be cheapest, but don’t get from there because of it.) Pocketrate (linked with Quotezone) also provides great comparison services as well – less well known but I like their interface.

It’s also worth checking out some providers than only quote directly and aren’t on price comparison services, like Direct Line.

If you have any questions, happy to answer them – please comment below! It’s worth reading official guidance and notice.

Finally, don’t panic! Whilst the virus is spreading, the practical effects to you personally are more limited than what’s implied in a bit of a media panic storm.

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See you soon!

5 comments

  • Another great post, Dan. I always have an annual policy on the go as it just makes things so much easier.

    • Thank you! Especially if you’re doing more than one trip a year it really does make sense – the price different is usually small but covers you for a lot more.

  • Booked our hols a fortnight ago and for first time ever took out travel insurance way ahead of the holiday. Makes sense.

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