It has been well documented that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a massive resurgence in Brits taking their holidays at home in the UK. Earlier in 2021, as the initial ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown was being announced, domestic accommodation providers reported a massive 300% surge in bookings for the summer.
Another big shift has been the number of people buying travel insurance even for domestic breaks. In the past, travel insurance has widely been seen as something only required for overseas holidays, largely on the basis that, if you need medical treatment while you are abroad, you will usually have to pay for it – and often at very high rates.
In the UK, of course, all citizens and residents are entitled to free medical treatment through the NHS, wherever in the country they happen to be. Another reason people have traditionally not seen the same need to buy travel insurance for domestic holidays is the perception that, unless you fly somewhere, you are very unlikely to lose your luggage, another common reason for claims on travel insurance policies.
But COVID has changed all of that. During the pandemic, even while there haven’t been lockdown restrictions making any sort of holiday or break impossible, the biggest risk factor when travelling has been cancellations. If you test positive before you go on holiday, or even if you come into contact with someone who has tested positive and are ‘pinged’ by the NHS Test and Trace app, you have to self-isolate.
Whether you are planning on travelling within the UK or abroad, that’s it, holiday over. And because it is technically you making the cancellation, there is no requirement for any accommodation provider or travel company to offer you a refund. The only way to get your money back is to have travel insurance.
Care still required
Things have now changed slightly with the government’s decision to end the requirement for anyone who has had both vaccination jabs to isolate themselves after coming into close contact with someone who has the virus. That takes away one of the risk factors for having to make a last-minute COVID cancellation. So does that mean people who are fully vaccinated can go back to having a more relaxed attitude towards travel insurance for UK breaks?
That seems premature. After all, the relaxation of the requirement to self-isolate only applies to contact with someone who has the virus. If you test positive yourself, you still have to isolate – and that’s a matter of law. If you get ‘pinged’ by the NHS Test and Trace app, you should still take a COVID test. If that comes out positive and you happen to have a holiday booked, you will still have to cancel.
Also, if you have children, it is worth remembering that to date it is only over-18s who have been offered the vaccine at all, with no clear plan as yet for vaccinating younger age groups. That means your children are still at high risk of being told they have to self-isolate, especially once they go back to school.
If someone in their ‘bubble’ at school tests positive for the virus, they will be sent home and have to isolate for 10 days. If that happens the last week of term before the October or Christmas holidays and you have a family trip booked, they wouldn’t be able to go.
All in all, then, continuing to buy travel insurance for UK breaks is a sensible precaution against potentially finding yourself out of pocket while the risk of COVID-related cancellations hangs over all of our holiday plans. Click to view more about UK travel insurance with COVID cover included