Amber list travel insurance: Am I covered? Rights explained
WITH coronavirus restrictions easing, many of us are booking trips abroad – but you still need to make sure your insurance is valid.
Soon, double-jabbed Brits will be able to add amber-list countries to the list of destinations they can visit without quarantining, the Sun has revealed.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updatesThe UK government is set to announce that Brits can travel to amber-list countries without vaccination[/caption]
This makes it far easier to holiday in 147 countries including Spain, Italy, the USA, Madagascar and Mauritius.
But just because a country is on the green or amber list, that doesn’t mean your insurance will cover you for your holiday.
Before you rush out to book a trip, here’s everything you need to know about making sure you’re insured:
Can I get insurance if I travel to amber-list countries?
Most insurers base whether or not you’ll be covered on the FDCO advice around travel.
This makes things tricky for consumers because advice around travel may differ between the government traffic light system and FCDO advice.
For example, there may be green, amber and red list countries that do not have FCDO advice against travel in place and others that do.
At the time of writing, the FDCO warns that: “To prevent new COVID variants from entering the UK, you should not travel to amber or red list countries.”
Even if the government changes the rules around quarantining for amber-list countries, it’s important to check the FCDO rules for your destination country.
If the FCDO is still advising against “all but essential travel” you may find you aren’t covered for anything from lost bags and cancelled holidays to sickness and getting Covid.
The Association of British Insurers says: “It is important that people travelling follow FCDO advice, as travelling against FCDO advice is likely to invalidate your travel insurance.
“While the Government’s traffic light system sets the requirements for return to the UK, FCDO advice outlines the risk to a person while travelling in a particular country.
“Most travel insurance policies will refer to FCDO advice, however it is important that you check the terms of your individual policy to know what you are and are not covered for.”
Hannah Isitt, Travel insurance expert at GoCompare, said: “The traffic light system does not impact the insured travel policy – the coverage is dependent on the FCDO advice.
“There is no travel insurance product that covers against the traffic light system, only a change in the FCDO advice.
“Travel insurance is really difficult to navigate as the restrictions ease, but it is always best to check with your insurer what you are covered for before you book and before you travel.
It’s also worth noting that if a country moves from amber to red while you’re abroad, you may not be covered for costs associated with quarantining in Government-provided accommodation when you return.
Isitt added: “If the policy holder is on their trip when there is a change in traffic light, from green to amber, and if the insured person stays on the trip they need to carefully check their policy to see if they are still covered.
“It is also essential that holidaymakers check the level of cover with their insurer as there may not be cover for the costs for further testing (unless it’s part of a medical claims) or quarantine costs.”
Checklist for travelling during the coronavirus pandemic
THE Association of British Insurers (ABI) has provided a list of steps you should take before travelling in the pandemic.
1. Always make sure it is safe to travel. Always check current FCDO advice, especially as travelling against FCDO advice is likely to invalidate your travel insurance. Be aware of any quarantine requirements on your return to the UK – travel insurance will not cover costs associated with quarantining in Government provided accommodation.
2. Buy travel insurance and make sure that it best meets your needs. The main reason for travel insurance is to cover the costs of emergency overseas medical treatment which, together with any repatriation required back to the UK, can easily run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
3. Check and be aware of any COVID-19 exclusions in your travel insurance. All ABI travel insurers will continue to provide cover for emergency medical treatment needed overseas, including emergency medical treatment related to COVID-19. However, policies are unlikely to cover cancellation due to COVID-19, as it was a known risk when the policy was taken out
4. Be aware of, and comply with, travel requirements for entering overseas countries. It is your responsibility to comply with any border restrictions in place at your destination country (i.e. negative COVID-19 test, vaccine). If you do not comply with these requirements, then you will need to return home at your own cost.
5. Have your EHIC, or get a GHIC, if travelling to Europe. If you hold a current European Health Insurance Card (the EHIC entitles you to access state-provided health care when visiting the EU) this remains valid until its expiry date. After then, or if you do not have an EHIC, you will need to apply in the same way (through NHS online) for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
Neither the EHIC or the GHIC is a replacement for travel insurance as it will not cover you for all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.
6. Know your rights. Get as much information as you can, so that, in the event of any travel problems, you know what you are entitled to. For example, check the refund policy of any accommodation provider, what you are entitled to if booking a package holiday, and what the legal obligations of the airline are if your flight is disrupted or cancelled.
Can I get insurance for business travel or emergencies?
If the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to a particular country, you should check with your insurer whether a trip counts under its rules.
Some insurers will cover these automatically. For instance, AXA UK says that cover would be provided for business or in an emergency.
Meanwhile, Aviva says you can get cover for essential travel, but it needs to be agreed with the insurer first.
Other insurers will not cover trips which customers deem to be essential regardless of the reasons.
For instance Admiral has an exclusion which means that you will not be covered if the FCDO is advising against “all but essential” travel – even in emergencies.
Business travellers also have more options when it comes to cover.
The ABI says: “Specialist cover for business travel against FCDO advice is available, and we recommend you speak to a broker.”
What the insurers are saying
The Sun has contacted all the major insurers to find out whether they plan to cover travel to amber-list countries.
We will keep updating this section with individual insurer responses when we hear back.
An Aviva spokesperson said: “Cover is in place as long as there is no FCDO advice against traveling to that destination at the time of travel.
“Aviva Travel Insurance will not cover customers who decide to travel against FCDO advice unless their travel is essential and legally permitted. (This exclusion will apply to all new policies but will not apply to existing policies unless renewed on or after 17/01/2021).”
“Before making a claim or if a travel provider has changed the terms of a booking, customers should first contact their travel or accommodation provider to discuss their options.”
An AXA UK spokesperson, said: “While AXA would, in general, provide cover for someone travelling to an amber list country, customers should check FCDO advice as this may restrict cover to those countries.
“We will not cover related claims where a customer chooses to travel to a destination which the FCDO has advised against either all travel or all but essential travel.”
And Admiral spokesperson said: “For single trip policies, we allow customers to buy cover to some amber listed countries. Customers can contact us to check if we will provide cover for a country they want to visit.
“On annual multi-trip policies, travel to an amber listed destination would be covered. Cover is subject to a customer not travelling against FCDO advice and our other Covid-19 exclusions.
“We do not cover trips which a customer may consider ‘essential’, if the FCDO is advising against “all but essential” travel to that location, as per our general exclusion.”
A Hastings spokesperson said: “Customers can continue to travel to any country listed under the territorial limits of their policy regardless of the Covid traffic light system.
“However, we do suggest they continue to request a Green Card until it is confirmed that the UK has been admitted to the Green Card Free Circulation Zone.”
An LV= spokesperson said: “Our policies include cover to countries where the FCDO has advised it is safe to travel.
“This means that even if the country is on the amber list, as long as the FCDO advice is that it’s ok to travel, your LV= policy will cover you.
“Customers must ensure they check the requirements of their destination in advance of leaving home, as being denied boarding a flight, or entry to a country due to failure to provide the required documentation / testing, is not covered under the policy terms.
“Customers travelling to green countries must be prepared for the status of that country to change at short notice, either before they travel or whilst they are away.
“Cancellation or curtailment due to the traveller having to quarantine upon return home, because the destination country has been downgraded to amber, is not covered.
“For travel to a destination where the FCDO advice is ‘all but essential travel’, LV= will only offer cover if this has been explicitly agreed with us in advance of travel.”
- Virgin Money
“The Red/Amber/Green status doesn’t impact on coverage decisions…. However customers should always check FCDO advice prior to travel.
“Cover is dependent on FCDO advice at the time. If your trip is permitted by the FCDO advice, either because non-essential travel to your destination is allowed or because you’re travelling for a permitted reason, you will be covered as normal.”
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
- Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
- Repatriation service – The costs of getting you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay – You’ll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
What are the travel rules for green and amber countries?
At the moment, you can only travel to green-list countries without quarantining on your return.
You do need to take a Covid test before you return, fill out a passenger locator form and book and pay for a Covid test to be taken on or before day two once you are back.
If the day two test comes back positive, you need to quarantine. You also need to quarantine if test and trace tell you that you’ve travelled with someone with Covid.
Lots of the green countries are on something called the “Green Watchlist” which means that they’re at risk of moving to amber, so holidaymakers should be cautious before they book.
Currently, travel to an amber-list country means you need to follow all the rules for the green list and quarantine for ten days on your return, with an extra test on or before day eight.
But on Thursday, the UK government is expected to scrap quarantine measures for Brits returning from Amber-list countries too.
As well as checking the green, red and amber lists, you also need to check the rules in the place you want to travel too.
An Aviva spokesperson said: “Countries have different entry requirements, for example, they may require a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination. There may also be a requirement for them to quarantine on arrival.”
“Before customers book a trip or travel, it’s essential that they check the entry requirements for any country they are travelling to or will transit through and the entry requirements for return to the UK.”
The full list of green and amber countries
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- New Zealand
- South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- Antarctica/British Antarctic Territory
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Balearic islands (Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca)
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Israel and Jerusalem
- Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia
- The Bahamas
- Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Czech Republic (Czechia)
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- The Gambia
- Greece (including islands)
- Hong Kong
- Marshall Islands
- Myanmar (Burma)
- New Caledonia
- North Korea
- North Macedonia
- The Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Papua New Guinea
- Portugal (Madeira is on the green watchlist)
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Spain (including the Canary Islands). (The Balearic islands are on the green watchlist.)
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Maarten
- St Martin and St Barthélemy
- St Pierre and Miquelon
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- United States (USA)
- Wallis and Futuna
- Western Sahara
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