We reveal the things you need to be aware of if you're booking a holiday

Many stir-crazy Britons will be desperate to get away this summer and could be hovering over the 'book' button on a European trip in the coming months, despite the unknown.

However, one expert is warning that simply relying on a European Health Insurance Card while in hotspots such as France, Italy and Spain is not enough and adequate travel cover - which is currently difficult to obtain - is essential.

As a result, Brian Brown, of Defaqto, believes that those thinking about booking a trip should do so at the last possible minute, or book flights and accommodation that has last minute cancellation clauses.

Travellers should ensure they have both travel insurance and their EHIC when heading abroad

Several travel insurers have recently changed their policies to offer customers protection against getting coronavirus, suggesting holidaymakers are keen to head back abroad as soon as possible. 

Whilst initially only over-50's specialists Saga and Staysure altered their policies, the Post Office has now said it will also cover customers for all medical and repatriation fees if a policyholder catches coronavirus abroad.

This signals a change in attitude from insurers as Britain prepares to further ease lockdown restrictions, potentially allowing travellers to head overseas again.

However, although many Britons will be tempted with a last minute European summer holiday, they will need to ensure they have the necessary travel insurance and not simply rely on the EHIC.

This can prove tricky with many insurers still not selling new policies, and for those who are, not including any cover for cancellation with regards to coronavirus.  

However, travellers do still have some options. This is Money reveals what the EHIC will and won't cover you for and the travel insurance small print that is vitally important.

We reveal the things you need to be aware of if you're booking a holiday

Some Britons will be looking to head overseas as soon as the government advice changes

What does EHIC cover? 

The EHIC is an EU scheme which currently provides you with the same level of healthcare as a resident of the country that you are visiting. 

Four steps before booking 

Before booking a trip, it is worth bearing these factors in mind first:

1. Is the trip protected?

2.

Can you get insurance?

3. Could it be worth paying by credit card?

4. Can you cancel for free?

Read more about this in depth here

Whilst some might expect this means you will be treated for free, it actually means you will have the same terms as the locals - which is not always free, as some countries might expect you to pay towards some medical costs.

It includes treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit as well as routine maternity care. 

It also covers the provision of oxygen and kidney dialysis, although you'll have to arrange and pre-book these treatments before you go on holiday. 

Many Britons rely on it every year when they go abroad.

However, with Britain due to leave the EU at the end of the year, our participation in it is likely to be canned from 2021 onwards. 

What travel insurance clauses are a must? 

In comparison to the EHIC, with travel insurance, if there are any charges made by the hospitals or ambulances, the insurer will likely cover these costs.

Other things that the EHIC doesn't cover you for, which is where travel insurance steps in, are all the other costs around travel disruption caused by a hospital stay, including the below.

These are six clauses that Brian Brown from Defaqto - which rates insurers - says need to be in place before going away, with an adequate level of cover for each: 

1.

Costs of repatriation to the UK: This is particularly an issue if, say, you are in plaster when discharged from the hospital and might need more room on the plane.

2. Costs of repatriating everyone else in your party: This is useful if, for instance, your partner and children want to return home if you are ill.

3. Costs of transfers to the airport: You could also need the cost of a transfer home in the UK covered if you have a medical need, such as a taxi if you can't drive.

4.

Costs of additional accommodation: This is needed if you have to stay in the country for a few more days, for instance, while waiting for a flight home - airlines often won't let you travel with a new plaster cast.

5. Costs of accommodation for people with you: Necessary in times when your partner is staying in a hotel nearby while you are in hospital, for example.

6. Lost costs of accommodation, tickets, meals etc: This helps when you paid for things in advance but can't use them while in hospital. 

However, while these parts are necessary, it is proving almost impossible to tick them all of at this time, due to the current insurance restrictions in place. 

It could be a good strategy to contact some insurers before booking to ensure you can get the right level of protection.  

Cancellation cover?

Almost impossible at the moment 

Customers who don't already have a policy in place are urged to use price comparison sites to see what cover is available. 

Whilst there may not be many options, there will still be some smaller firms providing policies. 

The biggest issue for many this summer, assuming people are allowed to travel abroad, is cancellation in the event of coronavirus striking before you leave.

The best protection strategy is to book last minute - to reduce the risk of being ill before travel - or book accommodation and transport which is cancellable with refunds at short notice.'Brian Brown - Defaqto 

Brian Brown adds: 'Most policies, once lockdown is over and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office say it is safe to travel, will likely cover medical costs and repatriation if you get the virus while abroad.

'However, almost all will not cover you if you need to cancel because you catch coronavirus and are forced to isolate at home, or you don't catch it but have to self-isolate because someone you have been in contact with has caught it.'

This is assuming customers have booked a holiday, and bought the travel insurance, after 13 March.

However, if they bought their insurance and holiday before that date it's very likely that their cancellation would be covered, but travellers are always advised to check with their insurer just to be sure.

Brown added: 'People who haven't booked a summer holiday, or who haven't bought travel insurance yet, will find it near impossible to get covered for cancellation due to Covid-19 problems in the UK.

We reveal the things you need to be aware of if you're booking a holiday

'They therefore run the risk of losing their entire holiday cost.' This is why experts recommend obtaining cover as soon as they book the trip. 

'The best protection strategy for them is to book last minute - to reduce the risk of being ill before travel - or book accommodation and transport which is cancellable with refunds at short notice.' 

Many travellers who have had to cancel their trips due to the coronavirus have also found they have struggled to get refunds from their airline. 

Whilst, legally, carriers must return the money back to customers within 14 days of cancellation, some airlines are taking months instead, due to the large number of people requesting them.

This is something customers should take into considerate when booking as, if they do have to cancel, they could potentially be left out of pocket for quite some time.  

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