Coronavirus: UK holidays and ‘Staycations’

Here are some cost-cutting tips if you’re considering a UK holiday this year. Is it worth getting travel insurance?

image of cubes spelling out "holi" in separate cubes, followed by the word "stay" on another cube to represent a staycation

As things change rapidly during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, this guide will be updated regularly to reflect changes in rules and regulations.

It looks like going abroad this summer will be unlikely for most people. Many are expecting to see a surge in people visiting UK seasides and opting for ‘staycations’. 

There are some things that travellers should consider when choosing a UK break.

Should you get travel insurance? 

People usually think of travel insurance as something they need to get if they go abroad. For example, your insurance will usually cover any medical costs if you have an accident when you’re abroad. 

So, do you really need to get any holiday or travel insurance if you’re planning a trip here in the UK? Well, probably not.

After all, you’re unlikely to have to pay any upfront health costs if you need to attend a hospital, walk-in centre or emergency GP appointment while you’re away from home.

It's also worth noting that some credit cards and packaged current accounts already offer insurance cover for gadgets and other valuable belongings if they’re stolen.

Protection if you pay by card 

If you’ve paid for travel or accommodation that is then cancelled by the firm providing it, you may be eligible to claim the money back using Section 75 protection.

But this protection only applies if you paid at least £100 of the cost with your credit card. Section 75 protection applies on all credit card transactions between £100 and £30,000.

Check if your purchase is covered by Section 75

If the travel or hotel stay cost less than £100, or you paid for it using a debit or prepaid card you might be able to use the Chargeback scheme to get money back from your bank.

Chargeback covers purchases of almost any value made on your card. You can use it to get your money back if:

  • A purchase does not arrive

  • The company you buy from goes bust

  • Goods or services are not as described or are in an unsatisfactory condition

  • You are charged more than agreed for a purchase or are charged more than once

  • Your card is used fraudulently

You can only use it if the retailer refuses to give you a refund or is unable to help.

So, if there is a problem with any travel booking, it’s always worth speaking to the company that provided the service first.

Read more about how the Chargeback scheme works. 

Are there any benefits to getting UK travel insurance? 

Given the uncertainty around existing travel restrictions around COVID-19 in the UK, options for domestic travel cover are limited.

Some policies may cover you for:

  • Lost, stolen or damaged baggage during your trip

  • Lost, stolen or damaged gadgets, like smartphones (but check your policy carefully)

  • Costs resulting from personal accidents

  • Costs incurred while doing certain activities, like bungee jumping, banana boating and jet skiing

These are examples of features that may be available with certain policies, based on our research. 

If you do decide to buy travel insurance to cover any UK trips, make sure you read through the policy documents very carefully. You may also want to get in touch with the insurer to make sure the policy covers your needs.

Can you get insurance if you still want to travel abroad?

The short answer is no, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get travel insurance which will meet your need for any overseas trips over the next few months.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has released guidance advising against all but essential travel.

This has meant that major insurance providers have pulled cover in the wake of the outbreak. 

Even if you are able to get any kind of travel cover for trips later this year, you will not be covered for cancellation if it’s related to existing travel restrictions or COVID-19. 

In March virtually every mainstream travel insurer effectively pulled out of providing travel insurance for trips abroad as a result of the virus.

Since this guide was first published, a very small number of specialist policies have become available that offer some protection if you wish to travel abroad. 

However, be aware that these are not likely to be very competitive in price and these policies will include big restrictions. 

Insurance cover for the basics while you’re away 

Now that some restrictions on our movements have been relaxed, many people will be considering going on leisure trips in the UK over the coming weeks. 

Home insurance

But regardless of where you go, make sure you have home insurance to cover you in case your home is burgled or damaged while you’re not there.

Home insurance can be split into two separate policies; Buildings Insurance and Contents Insurance. You can buy each separately, or get them together as a combined policy.

Protecting your home’s contents

Contents insurance covers the personal belongings in your home against theft or damage. This can include items like furniture, gadgets and kitchen equipment.

Some content insurance policies also cover items you take out of your home, like your phone, bike or laptop. These are not typically listed as standard, so you should check individual policies if you want to include that kind of cover and be prepared to pay a little more for it.

There are several specific kinds of contents insurance you can get. These include:

  • Rental contents insurance (to protect your belongings if you’re renting)

  • Landlord insurance (if you’re a landlord who lets furnished properties)

  • Unoccupied property insurance (for a holiday home)

  • Student home cover

Here’s some more information on what contents insurance covers.

Buildings cover

Building insurance (or buildings insurance) covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it’s damaged. It usually protects the structure of your home and external fixtures like pipes against damage from bad weather, fire or theft. It can also cover internal fixtures and fittings like bathrooms and kitchens, and outdoor structures like sheds. If there’s been a lot of damage to your property and it’s unsafe to stay in your home, your insurer will pay for you to stay somewhere else until it’s been repaired.

More details on how to find the right home insurance for your needs.

Car insurance

 If you’re driving to your holiday destination, make sure your car insurance covers you for all eventualities. 

Car insurance is a way of protecting yourself in case your car gets stolen, broken into, or you damage your car in an accident. It also protects you if you damage someone else’s vehicle or property.

Depending on your level of cover, your insurance should pay out if any of these unfortunate events take place.

 If you’re a car owner in the UK, you’re legally required to have car insurance. If you drive without insurance, you could be fined and get penalty points on your licence. You could even be disqualified from driving.

Choosing the right car insurance policy for your needs

Breakdown cover

 Breakdown cover is a kind of insurance to protect you if your car breaks down. Having the right breakdown cover means you could call an engineer who can help in an emergency, such as if you get a flat battery or punctured tyre.

They'll either fix your car there and then at the roadside, or offer a car recovery service to tow it to a garage. This is especially important if you get stuck on the motorway far from home.

Car breakdown cover is a good way to give you peace of mind that you won't be left stranded at the roadside. You'll have help when you need it most. The aim is to get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

Sometimes breakdown cover is bought as an individual policy, but other times it's offered as an add-on to your regular car insurance. 

Roadside assistance is included as standard for all breakdown cover policies. However there are different features that you may want to consider when picking your cover.

One of these is known as ‘onward travel’ cover. This gives you the option to continue with your journey if your car is taken to a garage. You'll get the choice of a hire car, hotel accommodation and or alternative travel arrangements.

How to choose the right breakdown cover for you