Holidaymakers risk losing thousands of pounds jetting off to amber list countries from invalid insurance
BRITS heading abroad risk losing thousands of pounds if they are taken ill on holiday, have their holiday cancelled or lose luggage.
Travel insurance could be invalid if holidaymakers travel to some of the destinations on the government's amber list, leaving them out of pocket if they need to make a claim.
Countries have been listed as red, amber or green destinations, as part of the governments traffic light system approach to bringing back holidays after covid.
Travel to amber list countries is allowed, although it is advised against, and many holidaymakers have booked breaks to these destinations.
Amber list countries include popular holiday spots like Spain, Greece and Italy.
But travel insurance policies are unlikely to cover travel to these places because the foreign office advises against "all but essential travel".
Travelling against advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) can invalidate travel insurance.
The average claim is for more than £1,300 for medical emergencies and can easily reach tens of thousands of pounds, according to the insurance industry body the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Cancellation claims average £869 and for lost baggage, £214, meaning Brits could be left thousands of pounds out of pocket in the worst case.
Many insurance polices are now offering cover for covid-related issues, but only if it's valid for the country you are travelling to.
The miss-match between the government's traffic light country classifications and official FCDO advice has caused confusion among sun-seekers jetting off ahead of the half term.
Complaints website Resolver said it has already had more then 500 enquiries in the last few weeks about amber list travel.
Is my travel insurance valid when travelling to an amber list country?
Generally your travel insurance policy will not cover you for travel to amber countries, experts say.
That's because the FCDO is advising against all but essential travel to many of them, including many of the most popular holiday destinations.
According to the ABI, travelling against FDCO advice is likely to invalidate your travel insurance.
You can check current FDCO advice for the country you are travelling to.
There may be exceptions to this, for instance if you can prove you're travelling for essential reasons rather than a holiday you may be granted cover.
Resolver advises that this will differ from insurer to insurer, so check carefully and make sure you have confirmation that your destination is covered despite being an amber list country and that you get this in writing.
It also says that if you took out travel insurance before the traffic light system was in place, your protection may differ compared compared to fi you are buying insurance now.
Martyn James from Resolver said: "A small number of insurers are not enforcing this exclusion if your insurance was bought before the latest announcements took place."
Travel: What are your rights to a refund?
MILLIONS of Brits have had holiday plans cancelled. Here’s what to do if you’re affected.
Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.
You are entitled to a cash refund if it's cancelled your holiday but many have large delays processing cash or may offer vouchers instead.
If the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to countries or regions, you may also be covered for cancellations by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.
Keep in mind travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCDO advice changed, otherwise you won't be covered.
If you don't have travel insurance or the excess on your insurance is so high it's not worth claiming, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.
Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.
Debit card claims or credit card claims of under £100 may be covered under similar Chargeback guarantees.
Is my travel insurance valid if I go to a country on the green list?
Travel to countries on the green list is allowed.
Your travel insurance should be valid, though cover for covid-related issues like cancellations or quarantine will depend on the policy you have.
Resolver also notes that you will not be covered by travel insurance if you travel to a green list country and you are refused entry.
It's your responsibility to check any restrictions before travelling and there are green list countries which will not let in anyone travelling from the UK, like Australia and New Zealand.
What if my destination is moved to a different list?
You're unlikely to be covered if you're travelling to an amber list country, so this would be the same situation if the destination moved to the red list.
If this happens you might have to spend more money if you have to quarantine or take tests at home or abroad, or both, and it's unlikely you would be able to claim on your travel insurance.
If you're in a green list country that moves to the amber or red list, it depends on the policy and the change.
Even before the traffic light system was introduced, there were no policies that would pay out if the FCDO changes its advice on travel according to research by consumer group Which?.
But, a country can be on the amber list without the FCDO changing its travel advice so you could still be covered.
If a country moves from the green to amber before travel you won't be covered, says Which?.
Many holiday providers are offering flexible bookings, so you might be able to move the holiday or cancel it for a refund, depending on the terms and conditions.
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some “must have
- 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.
Can I get a refund if my insurance is not valid?
It's unlikely that you would get a refund if the insurance turns out to be invalid or if you buy the wrong insurance.
But it's worth asking for a refund if you think that policy was not clear.
Mr James of Resolver said: "If you feel key things weren't made clear then you could ask for a refund.
"But the money in premiums won't be comparable to the amount potentially lost in a claim."
Here's everything you need to know about booking a trip and protecting your pocket.
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