FCO travel advice on British travellers returning to the UK
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced on the 23.3.2020 that all British nationals currently travelling overseas should try to return back to the UK as soon as possible.
The underwriters current advice is all policyholders contact their pre booked flight providers and attempt by all possible means to alter their current travel arrangements and bring forward their return flight(s) to the UK, to as soon as you can. We appreciate that this is not going to be an easy task given a number of airlines have suspended scheduled flights at present. You should however be in contact with the airline that you have a booked return flight(s) with to see when the earliest possible date is that they can offer you a return flight home to the UK.
If you are not able to contact the airline, please contact the British Embassy as soon as possible.
Your policy will remain valid should you have unforeseen medical expenses including contracting COVID-19. If you do require medical assistance, please contact our emergency assistance team in the UK as follows:
The medical assistance team can be contacted on +44(0)203 829 6745 - please note this is only for emergency medical situations.
If having to stay in isolation or if you are unable to return to the UK as scheduled and your trip extends beyond the original expiry date, the policy will automatically extend until you can return at the earliest opportunity. This ensures you will continue to be covered under the emergency medical expenses section of the policy for this unforeseen extended period of time. However, any additional costs associated with this isolation and any change of travel plans wouldn't be covered I'm afraid.
If you decide to extend your trip until a date beyond when you can return to the UK, travel insurance could still be available through High Risk Voyager. Please click here to obtain a quote.
Typically under our policies, you can return to the UK twice within the dates of your policy for up to 21 days per return trip. However, under the current circumstances, we are able to extend the return trip clause for our policies so that the return to the UK can be open ended until the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice against all but essential travel is lifted, if you are able to travel again before your policy expires.
We are not able to add to the duration of cover, so your policy will still end on the current expiry date.
Please be aware that our policies will not provide any cover for travel to areas where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have advised against all but essential travel or against all travel at the start of your trip. Cancellation, curtailment or trip disruption costs are not covered if you are not able to travel following a change to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice or if travel restrictions have been imposed. Please read on for further information.
If you are yet to leave the UK and your plans have changed, please let us know so we can change the policy dates. If unsuitable for your needs and you haven't travelled you can request a refund which will be processed according to the policy terms and conditions.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is currently making unwanted headlines across the world, due to the unwelcome spread of this new and contagious infection, which started in the city of Wuhan, China, and has rapidly spread from there. There is now some FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) advice against all or all-but-essential travel to certain countries, or areas within countries, due to the widespread nature of the epidemic in these places, and none of our policies would be valid if you travelled to one of these, or failed to move to another area, once the FCO classification had changed.
You can check up-to-date FCO advice for all countries here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Understandably, it may be a worrying or confusing time, if you have booked a trip away from the UK, and you're not sure what cover you have in place under your Go Walkabout policy, which is underwritten by tifgroup. We've rounded up some common questions below, which will hopefully answer the concerns that you have, but please feel free to get in contact with us by email or phone, if you still have unanswered questions, or want further clarification on your individual situation:
Am I insured if I travel against the advice of the FCO?
None of our policies will offer cover if you decide to travel against the advice of the FCO. This would be for 'All Travel' and 'All but Essential Travel'.
Will my policy cover medical treatment for the Coronavirus? And will repatriation be covered?
If you catch Coronavirus or require medical treatment, then cover will be in place for emergency and necessary treatment. Customers should be aware that our policies are travel insurance policies and not private medical insurance, meaning that there is no cover for any medical expenses incurred in private medical facilities, if we have confirmed that medically capable public facilities are available.
Our policies will provide cover for repatriation (bringing you home) if it's medically necessary. Our Emergency Assistance Team will liaise with your treating doctor(s) about your treatment plan and if required, obtain a 'fit to fly' certificate. We also liaise with you and advise on, and put in place, suitable repatriation plans to get you home as soon as it is medically safe to do so in order to achieve your optimal recovery. The Emergency Assistance Team will be unable to make arrangements to repatriate you where it is against local advice, where travel is restricted or where you would pose a risk to other passengers.
Am I covered for cancellation due to the Coronavirus?
None of our policies would offer cover under the 'Cancellation' section of your policy because all of our policies have specific reasons for cancellation and the 'fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection or allergic reaction' or change in Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice are not reasons that are covered. This is common across the travel insurance industry, unless a policy has a specific benefit in place, to cover this. If you would like to find information about travel insurance policies that have got this cover in place, ring BIBA (the British Insurance Brokers' Association' and ask them for their guidance. Their number is 0370950 1790.
We would advise travellers who have booked package holidays to a destination affected by the viral outbreak and looking to cancel their trip or amend their travel plans to contact their travel agent or tour operator in the first instance.
If you're not able to amend your trip and have a medical justification for having to cancel, please get in touch and this will be assessed on a 'case by case' basis by our Underwriter's Claims team.
If I'm stuck abroad due to the Coronavirus and cannot come home on my planned return date, will my travel insurance be extended to cover me until I get home?
Depending on your policy, cover may be extended for the following reasons:
- If you are hospitalised, require medical treatment and are unable to fly
- If your transport is delayed or disrupted
- If you cannot return home for any reason beyond your control
Please get in touch for further advice on this, if needed.
If I am quarantined due to the Coronavirus, what cover is in place?
If you are admitted to hospital, your policy will usually provide assistance with returning home when you have been discharged.
Please contact the Emergency Assistance Team on +44(0) 203 829 6745 or +44(0) 1732 853 333 if you are admitted to hospital or will be receiving ongoing treatment whilst away from the UK.
What happens if I arrive at my holiday destination and they refuse entry due to the virus?
If you travel to an area that the FCO advises against travel to, there would be no cover under your policy as this would be considered as a 'known' event.
If you travel to an area and the FCO advice changes after leaving home, you should contact your travel agent or tour operator for information on availability of flights or refunds in the first instance, and travel away from that area as soon as possible. There is no cover under the policy for additional expenses that you incur, for this reason.
If you are refused entry at passport/border control, you should contact your airline/transport provider to arrange changing your return ticket to allow you to come home early.
Will I be covered if I want to cut my trip short due to the Coronavirus?
None of our policies offer cover for cutting your trip short (curtailing it) for this reason. Policies offer cover in relation to specific reasons for cutting short your trip, and the 'fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection or allergic reaction' or a change in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice is not one of those reasons.
We would advise travellers who have booked package holidays to a destination affected by the viral outbreak and looking to cut your trip short, they should contact their travel agent or tour operator for information on availability of flights in the first instance.
If you are travelling independently from a tour operator or travel agent, you should make your own arrangements to leave by either altering your return ticket where possible or booking onto an alternative flight or mode of transport. Claims for independent travellers' additional expenses in returning home earlier than planned, where medically justified, will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
What happens if I arrive at my holiday destination and they refuse entry due to the virus?
If you travel to an area where the FCO advises against travel, there would be no cover under our travel insurance policies, as this would be considered as a 'known' event.
If you travel to an area and the FCO advice changes after leaving home, you should contact your travel agent or tour operator for information on availability of flights or refunds in the first instance.
If you are refused entry at passport/border control, you should contact your airline or transport provider to arrange changing your return ticket to allow you to come home early.
If I go out on an excursion for a day and then am not allowed back to my travel accommodation (or cruise ship) due to quarantine, what cover do I have?
You should follow any instructions issued by the local authorities as it is more than likely that you will have to enter some form of quarantine.
Travellers should contact their travel agent or tour operator for assistance in the first instance.
You may be able to find an alternative insurer who can offer this cover. However, you should be aware that there will be no cover if the FCO has already issued a directive to the area you are travelling to. Your new policy will only cover you for events and restrictions in areas that occur after the date you paid for your policy and may have different terms, conditions and premiums applied.
Can I cancel my current policy and take a new policy which has to cover for change in FCO advice?
BIBA (the British Insurance Brokers' Association) have a consumer helpline related to travel insurance, on 03709501790, so you could ring them for guidance on travel insurers who can offer cover for changes in FCO advice.
We aren't able to cancel your policy if you have already started your trip away from the UK. We can only offer a 50% refund if cancelling outside of the 14 day cooling off period.
If I have a stop-over in an area which the FCO advises against travel to, am I still covered?
We suggest that if you have not started that part of your journey, you contact your airline to change your travel plans to move on to the next part of your itinerary.
If you arrive at your stop-over airport and entry is denied due to the virus, you should contact your airline to change your travel plans to move on to the next part of your itinerary.
Can my policy be changed to suit a new/different holiday or trip?
If you're offered an alternative destination and/or dates from your travel agent, we will shift your insurance policy to fit the new trip without any additional costs, providing the new trip is for the same duration and to the same location or geographical area. Please contact us to arrange this.
What can I do with my policy if I am no longer travelling and have received a refund for my holiday?
In the event that you're unable to move the trip to an alternative destination, and are offered a refund from your travel agent or tour operator, we will provide a refund of your premium in line with the cancellation terms in your policy wording, on the understanding that no claim is to be made against the policy. We can only refund 50% of the premium if cancelling outside the 14 day cooling off period. This doesn't apply to Annual Multi Trip policies.
Where can I get more information about travel and the Coronavirus?
FCO advice for different countries:
Novel Coronavirus (Covid 19): General Advice for Travellers:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest information and advice from the UK government:
Advice for Travellers - Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-travellers/