14 April 2020 by Christina Sharp
Who knew that COVID-19 would indiscriminately strike, impacting the lives of millions? The past weeks have seen unprecedented change to the worldwide travel landscape, as country after country successively imposes restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the majority of travellers who found themselves stranded while away, have now managed to get home. The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, at the beginning of April, estimated about 300,000 UK travellers were still stuck abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has also recognised "unprecedented" international travel restrictions were making it difficult for people to get home.
So what do you do if your trip is unexpectedly prolonged? As far as your travel insurance is concerned, if you had a policy in place for your original trip, then your first port of call is your current insurance provider. Many travel insurance companies are responding positively and providing free extensions on your policy for a limited period. However, what if you were one of the thousands who travelled without insurance and the coronavirus pandemic has made you think twice about the risks of travelling abroad uninsured? Or what if you decide that you are safer where you are, and prefer to extend your stay overseas? Especially as flights are at a premium. Fortunately, you still have options. Even though most companies do not provide cover once you are already away, a small number of travel insurance providers do offer travel insurance cover to people who have already travelled, including Globelink who have been around for almost 25 years.
Read also: Your Travel Plans and Coronavirus Pandemic
You will struggle to find any insurance provider who will cover anything to do with COVID-19 now as it is a known event. But pandemic aside, the FCO always recommend you have travel insurance in place for all those unexpected things that can go wrong, like lost or stollen baggage, lost passport and money, an accident or illness. It could cost you thousands if you take the risk of staying uninsured and the FCO give several examples of the medical costs you could incur while away, including £100,000 for a stomach bug or infection treated in a hospital in the USA with return flights. See the FCO website for more advice on why insurance is always a good idea.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to head off on their travels without travel insurance. In fact, recent research from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), last year estimated that 8.6 million British holidaymakers could be putting themselves at risk of significant medical and repatriation costs, or even delays in treatment due to no travel insurance.
So if you or someone you know is an EU resident and stuck overseas, or decided to extend their stay, or even forgot cover or didn’t think it was necessary – and now realise that it is really essential – then take a look at an Already Travelling policy to protect yourself and your loved ones until you get safely home. It's best to do this asap, as this option may not be available for much longer in the current insurance climate, when more than 28 Travel Insurers have already temporarily suspended offering travel insurance. Most travel policies will have a 24/365 Assistance Service available to call if you have a problem while abroad, with medical and multi-lingual staff to help. This gives you even more reason why it’s worth paying the relatively low costs to get protected and have the added peace of mind that there is help and cover at hand if something goes wrong.
And when the travel restrictions are over, and you’re itching to catch up on any missed trips, it’s worth considering an Annual Multi Trip travel insurance policy. If you take two or more trips abroad a year it usually works out a lot cheaper. And you have the added bonus that your insurance is all sorted and you’re covered all year round, so it’s one thing less to remember on your next trip. Stay safe. Globelink team.