Less than 1% of UK travel insurance policies provide people with full comprehensive cover for Covid-related disruption, research by Which? has found.
The consumer body analysed 263 travel insurance policies and rated only two as “complete”, meaning they protected travellers against a full range of possibilities.
Meanwhile, 34 policies – including some of those offered by companies including Esure and Sheilas’ Wheels – were labelled basic, the lowest ranking.
Many commentators have said that for anyone going on a trip, having travel insurance that includes some form of Covid cover is vital, but Which? said some policies offered “next to no cover” when it came to having to cancel for reasons related to the coronavirus, while only a minority provided “meaningful” cover against several plausible threats to a holiday.
Travel insurers typically rewrote their policies last year to bar future cancellation claims from passengers prevented from travelling by the imposition of a government lockdown.
Which? has previously claimed that many travellers were being left with a false impression about the protection they would enjoy.
The two policies rated as complete – HSBC Select and Cover and Barclays Travel Pack – received the highest score because they protect travellers against three significant risks: cancellation because of changes in advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office or government lockdowns prohibiting travel; testing positive for Covid or being told to self-isolate; and being hit with medical and repatriation costs.
A further 85 policies were ranked superior, providing cancellation cover for travellers having to self-isolate without a positive test, but not for FCDO advice changing.
Just over half of the policies (142) were ranked low, including some from providers such as Nationwide and Admiral.
Basic policies provide travellers with cover for related emergency medical costs and repatriation but not for cancelling a trip if a traveller contracts Covid-19.
Gareth Shaw, the head of Which? Money, said: “As the removal of Portugal from the green list shows, last-minute disruption to holiday plans can happen, and our research shows that many travel insurers don’t offer much protection if it does.”
Some of those who were planning a trip to Portugal or were out there when the UK government removed the country from the travel green list this month will not have been covered by their insurance.
For example, it “seems highly unlikely” that anyone who elected to cut short their Portugal holiday so they could return to the UK before Portugal went on to the amber list, would be able to claim on their travel insurance, said Kevin Pratt of the comparison website Forbes Advisor UK.