‘War zone’ insurers to cover UK-France travel

UK company Holiday Extras has teamed up with a specialist insurance company to offer travel insurance to people travelling to countries not on the FCOs ‘safe list’, which includes France. 

19 August 2020
The UK foreign office is advising against all-but-essential travel to France
By Connexion journalist

On August 15, the UK’s foreign office (FCO) changed its advice for travel to France to only essential travel due to the country’s rising number of coronavirus cases. This in effect nullified most insurance policies for anyone planning to travel to the country, as most policies do not cover travel to countries with such FCO status. 

But now Holiday Extras, a UK insurance company that offers services such as airport parking, airport hotels, lounges and travel insurance, is offering a new policy in partnership with extreme travel insurer Battleface that does just that. 

“Holiday Extras’ customers can now easily access protection for travellers heading off to destinations worldwide – including countries such as France, Spain or the USA, which have traditionally been top summer destinations for UK travellers but are currently under UK government non-essential travel advisories,” a press release published on Battleface’s website stated. 

Howard Dove, insurance director at Holiday Extras, said that the company already have coronavirus-related insurance policies for countries on the FCO’s safe list but wanted to expand that. 

“Some customers still want or need to travel to countries that aren’t on the government’s list, and we want to be able to help them too. In some cases customers tell us they’re still travelling because they booked a holiday before the government advice changed, the trip is still going ahead and now they need travel insurance that will protect them. By partnering with Battleface, we’ve got the travel insurance product we wanted to help those customers too, and can now help every traveller wherever they’re going," he said. 

Sasha Gainullin, Battleface CEO, said the company was excited by the partnership. 

 “Whilst we are not actively encouraging people to travel to places the FCO is advising against, it’s important that travellers are covered in the event of an emergency and understand the quarantine requirements upon return to the UK,” he said. 

According to a quote estimate on Battleface’s website, a 40-year-old travelling to France for one week can get travel and medical cover for around £30. In mid-July the company first began offering cover for coronavirus expenses, which can be additional to any insurance policy, the company website states. 

“The new COVID-19 cover is available on all policies purchased from July 17th, 2020 for travellers up to and including age 59. All other benefits remain available as standard for travellers aged one month or over on the date of travel and 79 years or under when the trip for which this insurance is purchased finishes,” the Battleface website states. 

Battleface is more used to covering travellers going to extreme destinations, and advertises itself as the “tough face of travel insurance”. 

“Our core customers include freelancers, humanitarians, digital nomads and adventure travellers,” its website states. 

FCO advice and UK quarantine measures

A spokesperson for the UK’s foreign office told Connexion that it was not for it to comment on what policies insurance companies offer.

He referred to the advice page on its website that states that the “purpose of our travel advice is to provide objective information and advice to help you make better-informed decisions about foreign travel”. 

“Any decision to travel to, stay in or leave a country is for you to take on your own responsibility on the basis of the best available information from our travel advice and other sources. The government can’t make these decisions for you.”

Regarding travel insurance companies, the FCO advises that everyone makes sure their travel insurance policy includes the cover they want. 

“Travel insurance companies sometimes refer to our travel advice in their policies. For example, your policy may not provide cover if you travel to a country where the FCO advise against all, or all but essential travel. Some travel insurance policies may allow you to claim if you cancel a journey because of a change in our travel advice,” the FCO website states. 

Since August 15, anyone travelling from France to the UK is required to self-isolate for two weeks. 

France’s 14-day average number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people is 41.4, the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows. That is more than double the UK’s.

Read more about how coronavirus is affecting insurance:

UK tourists will not have valid health insurance in France

France-UK travel: how quarantine would affect insurance

France-UK quarantine: hundreds of thousands of tourists hit

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