What does the new FCO travel advice and "travel corridors" mean for travel insurance?

The UK Government and the Foreign Office (FCO) recently updated their travel advice and announced two important things:

  • Travel corridors - a list of 59 countries that from the 10th July, you won't have to self-isolate when you return back to the UK after visiting - Official announcement.
  • Updated FCO travel advice - a list of 67 countries and territories that from the 4th July, the FCO are saying you can travel to - Official announcement.

Generally, if a country has a "travel corridor" then it's also on the FCO's safe list. We're here to try and explain what it all means.

You'll be covered on your travel insurance if you go abroad somewhere that is on the FCO's safe list by the time you travel.

Previously the FCO advised against all but essential international travel and you had to self-isolate when returning from outside the UK. Read on to see what the new guidance is, where and when you can travel and how our travel insurance can still protect your trips.

What the latest FCO travel advice?

From the 4th of July, the FCO have removed their blanket advice against international travel and have created a long list of countries and territories they feel are safe for travellers to visit.

This advice update is essential to be covered by your travel insurance. You will only be covered by your travel insurance if you travel to a country the FCO says is safe. Specifically, when they are not advising against all but essential travel.

What is a "travel corridor"?

Air bridge, air corridor or the official "travel corridor" is where the UK considers another country to be safe to travel to because of a low rate of coronavirus infection. This means you can go abroad without the need to self-isolate when you come back home. The new rules apply for England only at the moment. Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are announcing their own rules shortly.

For example, there is a "travel corridor" with Spain. This means if you visit Spain for 1 week and return on or after the 10th July, you don't need to self-isolate on your return back to the UK.

Importantly, many countries on the "travel corridor" list may have their own self-isolation guidelines for UK travellers when you arrive.

For example, when you arrive in New Zealand, you are subject to medical screening and will need to self-isolate for 14 days. But, you can fly back from New Zealand with no self-isolation required in the UK. See below to find out more on entry requirements.

There will also still likely be some social distancing and guidance around personal protective equipment (PPE), like face masks, in these countries. Also, certain establishments might not be open, like indoor bars or nightclubs.

Which countries are included in the FCO and "travel corridor" list?

  1. Firstly, check to see if the FCO has said your country is safe to visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exempt-from-advice-against-all-but-essential-international-travel (if it isn't, you won't be covered by your travel insurance)
  2. Secondly, check if there is a "travel corridor" with your destination: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors (this means you won't have to quarantine when you come back home)

When can I go abroad?

  • If you don't mind self-isolating in the UK for 14 days, you can travel to the above countries from the the 4th July.
  • If you don't want to self-isolate in the UK when you return, you can travel to any country above, without a red mark, from the 10th July.

As long as you go to a country on the FCO's safe list, you can be covered by your travel insurance.

How do I know the entry requirements for a specific country?

This is unfortunately not very straight forward as the information from different countries is changing very frequently and can be inconsistent.

We've found some useful resources you can use though:

What does this mean for Pluto's travel cover?

Whenever you go abroad, you should always protect your trip with travel insurance.

The most important thing to check is that the FCO isn't advising against travel for your destination when you depart. If this is the case, your travel insurance won't be valid at all. So please check your country is on the list.

As the "air corridors" relate to whether or not you have to isolate when you return home, they have no impact on your travel insurance.

Your travel insurance won't cover any costs as a result of having to self-isolate when returning back to the UK after a trip abroad.

With Pluto, we can change your policy dates and sometimes the destination for free if you need to change your trip.

If you're travelling to a country the FCO has said is safe, here's what you are and aren't covered for

What isn't covered?

Unfortunately, regardless of the new FCO advice, we're not able to cover the following situations where it relates to coronavirus:

  • Cancelling your trip before you leave. For example, if the FCO change their travel advice for a country or because you have coronavirus and/or are self-isolating with symptoms before your trip or because of an airline or event cancellation.
  • Having to cut your trip short or come home early. For example, a sudden change in FCO advice while you're abroad or there's a lockdown imposed by the local government.
  • Travel delay, missed departures or extra accommodation costs, caused by border closure due to a local lockdown.

We're unable to cover these things because coronavirus is now classed as a 'known event' and insurance is only designed to protect you against risks and issues that are not known when you’re buying a policy or booking a trip.

What is covered?

  • You'll be covered as normal for all the usual things as part of your policy, like medical expenses, your baggage, travel delay costs, legal costs, missed departures and many more things.
  • Your policy does also still cover trip cancellations and travel disruptions for reasons other than coronavirus. Your policy will have these reasons listed out, or you can send us a message to ask a specific question. For example, if you broke your foot the day before you travel, you'd be covered for cancelling your trip.
  • Finally, if you catch coronavirus in another country and require medical treatment, you're covered for medical expenses.

You can get a quote now for a specific trip, or save money with an annual policy.

If the FCO is still advising against travel

If you travel against the FCO's advice for a specific country or region, then you will unfortunately invalidate your travel insurance, this will be the same for most other travel insurers.

If the FCO advice says it's safe to travel now, but changes before you travel

There is a risk this could happen if there is an outbreak in the UK or your destination country. But, the Government is working hard to ensure these rules don't constantly change back and forth. We would advise you to sign up to email alerts with the FCO for a country you're travelling to.

If the advice does change from being okay to advising against travel, then we would also advise you not to travel. If you did, we wouldn't be able to cover your trip.

Unfortunately, we wouldn't be able to cover trip cancellation costs because of any change in the FCO's travel advice.

Should I book my holiday now and get travel insurance?

We always advise you to get your travel insurance straight after booking your trip in case something goes wrong before you travel.

If your destination country is on the FCO's safe list:

You're okay to go ahead and book a holiday and get your travel insurance. We would still advise:

  • Ensuring your airline tickets and accommodation bookings are flexible and can be moved last minute.
  • Buying travel insurance: We can protect your trip from non-coronavirus related things, like if you break your foot and can't travel or there's a flood in your flat. We can't cover you if you need to cancel the trip because of coronavirus or the FCO's travel advice changes again.

If your destination country is not on the FCO's safe list:

Our advice would be to avoid booking trips in the short term for these destinations. Because, if the rules don't change you may not be able to travel there or there may be self-isolation restrictions when you land in the country and when you return to the UK and you may be out of pocket if you can't travel.

You can of course book a trip for the future when you think the rules will be more relaxed for your country, but we would advise:

  • Ensuring your airline tickets and accommodation bookings are flexible and can be moved last minutes.
  • Buying travel insurance for your trip: We can't cover you if you need to cancel the trip because of coronavirus or the FCO's travel advice, but we can protect your trip from other things, like if you break your foot and can't travel or there's a flood in your flat.

If you need to move your trip dates, we can update your policy for free.


We hope that was useful and helped you to understand the Government's and the FCO's new travel advice. If you have any more questions, please feel free to email or message us.


Founders

Founders

The two co-founders of Pluto, Alex & Harry.