What to do when the Government advises against all but essential travel

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) sometimes advise against all but essential travel to a country.  Or in the case of COVID 19, most of the world was out of bounds to British tourists.

What should you do if you are already in or planning to travel to a country that the Government has declared a no-go-zone?

How do I return home?

Hopefully, you have travel insurance that will cover you for medical and other risks while you are in a location with a declared state of emergency.

If you decide to return home earlier than planned:

  • Check with your travel insurer to see how they can help you. Your policy may cover you for an early return. But don’t assume. Check with your insurer first.  
  • Contact your tour operator, if you have one, to see if they will bring you back.
  • Talk to your airline to discover their plans for helping travellers return home sooner than planned. Sometimes airlifts will be organised. 
  • Monitor the FCDO website for guidance (assuming that networks and wifi are working). Their recommendation will be to follow the advice of local authorities and hotel security staff.

Curfews and security checks may mean travellers face long queues at the airport. Travelling to an airport without confirmed travel plans may not be an option.

Some may prefer to carry on with their holiday and follow Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advice to remain vigilant. Check with your travel insurer first to make sure your insurance cover is valid during a state of emergency. Also, keep checking with your airline because if the state of emergency persists, there may be a limited window to help British holidaymakers return to the UK.

Can I still go on my holiday?

If you are expecting to travel, but the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advises against it, your tour company will not take you there. But they will give you the choice to defer your travel plans, choose an alternative holiday or offer a refund.

If not, or if you’re still out of pocket due to not being able to travel, you can also contact your travel insurer.  

Why travel insurance matters

People think of travel insurance as protection for their belongings or their health while abroad. It probably explains why so many travellers wait until the last minute to invest in a travel insurance policy.

Premature as it may seem, buying travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday protects against travel cancellations and mishaps that occur in the run-up to your trip. As soon as you book your trip, you risk suffering a loss if the trip cannot go ahead. Whether that is because of a national state of emergency, or illness, or your airline or hotel going bust.

Tour operators, airlines and hotels should refund your main travel costs, and your travel insurance’s cancellation cover should meet any additional costs that cannot be reimbursed by your travel provider.

Buying a policy early also means you have more time to shop around for the right cover for your needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all policy.

Jane Hewin

Jane Hewin

Published on 26/04/19

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