Covid-19 and UK travel
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt travel both here in the UK and to overseas destinations, as restrictions on all our movements attempt to get coronavirus under control.
At the time of writing, a national lockdown across the whole of the UK means you must stay at home, except for in very limited circumstances.
During lockdown, holidays either in the UK or abroad are not allowed. This includes staying overnight in a property other than your main home, such as a second home or even a caravan. As restrictions ease, travel may be allowed from and to some areas.
Here, we’ve provided links to the latest guidance for the four countries of the UK and what restrictions on travel mean for your holiday and travel insurance. Plus, why it’s important to make sure that, when it’s safe to go, you’re properly protected even if you’re staying on home soil.
National lockdown, local differences
While UK-wide or local lockdowns means we must stay at home wherever they apply, there are some differences in the finer details of the restrictions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
That’s likely to be the case when we emerge from lockdown too. Different areas could be subject to different levels or ‘tiers’ of restriction, and those levels could change over time too. They might mean those who live in one country, or one specific part of that country, would be free to travel when others living elsewhere couldn't..
To avoid any doubt and make sure you’re working with the very latest information before travelling anywhere, you should always check the latest government instructions, guidance and Covid-19 travel restrictions for your part of the UK. You can do that here:
You’ll also find details of the few exceptions when travel and overnight stays are permitted, though these are few and can also vary depending on where you live.
If you’re planning a trip overseas, check it’s permitted and safe to do so first with the latest Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice.
• It’s your responsibility to check and follow the latest government guidance before taking a trip anywhere
• If you travel against any official advice – here or in a country or region you’re travelling to – you’ll likely invalidate your travel insurance policy and could even face a fine
Travel insurance for UK staycations
When it’s safe to travel once more, it’s important to consider holiday insurance to cover you and anyone in your household who’ll be joining you on your trip. Not just in times of coronavirus, and not only if you’ll be leaving these shores.
Lots of Brits think they don’t need travel insurance for trips they’re taking within the UK. This isn’t always the case, though, and having cover in place can provide much-needed help and reassurance if something goes wrong.
The cover you need for UK breaks – as well as the type of policies that will provide it – depends on the kind of holiday you’re taking there.
For instance, if you have an annual multi-trip policy there may be a minimum requirement of two or more nights’ pre-booked accommodation before you can make a claim. But if you have a single-trip policy it may not have a minimum requirement.
Let’s look at what’s already covered when you holiday in the UK, and why else you might need the extra cover travel insurance provides.
What is already covered?
Lots of people take out travel insurance to protect themselves against getting ill on holiday.
In EU countries, it can help to pay medical and some other expenses not covered by the UK Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic), such as air rescue or repatriation if you needed them.
In the UK, where the NHS is free at the point of service, health insurance isn’t necessary for staycation holidays. But that’s not the only reason people get travel insurance.
Why might I need travel insurance for holidays in the UK?
1. Protect your possessions
This depends on the type of holiday you’re taking. Think about what you’re going away with. Since you’re holidaying within the UK, you may be tempted to be a bit more extravagant in the things you take with you.
In fact, you might have some quite valuable possessions with you – such as gadgets like smartphones, tablets, cameras and handheld games consoles. Since you’re staying in the UK, you might take more jewellery than you would overseas. If you’re driving, you may make use of the extra boot space to take more clothes than you would if you were flying.
If you have contents insurance with an away-from-home add-on, you needn’t worry about loss or theft to these items. But lots of people don’t opt for this extra, and it may not be included as standard.
If your possessions aren’t covered by your contents insurance when they’re outside of your house, then travel insurance is necessary to make sure they’re protected.
It’s also important to check what your contents insurance covers. Some may not provide cover for accidental damage, which is another important reason to consider getting travel insurance.
2. Safeguard your holiday
Lots of things can happen that can prevent you from going away, from a relative becoming sick or your car breaking down. If something unfortunate happens and you have to cancel, travel insurance could be vital to help recoup holiday expenses.
If you have travel insurance for a pre-booked holiday but you’re suddenly unable to go due to an accident or other unforeseen circumstances, travel insurance may provide a lifeline. Especially if you’ve already paid some or all of the cost of the trip.
Some policies now provide cover for cancellation or curtailment due to coronavirus in some circumstances, though you should check the policy wording closely for what is and isn’t covered.
3. Insurances for any trip
If you’re someone who travels often, you could benefit from an annual multi-trip policy. This will normally include cover for holidays within the UK as well as other trips you take abroad.
This type of policy also means that you can take holidays in the UK frequently on the same policy, rather than having to worry about trips on an individual basis.
If you’re confident you’ll only be going away once in a 12-month period, you may get better value from a single-trip travel insurance policy instead.
Some common questions
We’ve answered some of the questions you might be asking about travel during Covid-19 restrictions, including staycations in the UK. You’ll find answers to questions about Post Office Travel Insurance policies in general here.
Are UK holidays allowed at the moment?
Holidays are not allowed under UK-wide or local lockdown conditions, either in the UK or overseas. So, if you’re set to take a family holiday, beach holiday or had booked a holiday park stay in the UK and a lockdown or tighter tier of restrictions is announced, it’s most likely off the cards until the government confirms you can go.
When can I go on holiday in the UK?
While you may hear it’s safe to travel again first through other sources – perhaps the news or on social media – you should always check an official government source to be sure.
The UK governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland provide up-to-date information on travel restrictions within the UK. The FCDO has guidance on international travel.
Check this guidance regularly and before you travel anywhere as it can change at short notice. If you travel against this advice the cover your travel insurance policy provides won’t be valid.
Are caravan holidays allowed in the UK?
Another common question for those looking for a staycation in the coming months is “can I visit holiday or caravan parks in the UK?” Sadly, it’s a no on the holiday parks front while a lockdown is in force. And, unless the caravan in question is your primary residence, staying overnight in it won’t be permitted under full lockdown or higher tier restrictions designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
What if restrictions have forced my holiday accommodation to close?
In the first instance, please check with your travel operator and/or airline to see if alternative arrangements can be made.
Will my travel insurance cover cancellation of my holiday due to Covid-19?
If you have an existing travel insurance policy, whether it includes cover for cancellation or curtailment due to coronavirus may depend on the provider, policy type and when you bought it. Some providers introduced extra cover for coronavirus on new policies during the pandemic’s first few months.
Please remember that travelling during lockdown and certain tiers of restriction may invalidate your policy altogether.