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Travel insurance unexpected event cover reviews

From the ash cloud to strikes to the Covid-19 pandemic, unexpected events can push travel insurance policies to their limits. Find out what you're covered for. 

In this article
  What is unexpected-event travel insurance? Best and worst policies for unexpected events cover
What unexpected events do insurers cover? Do I need unexpected events cover? What about Covid-19?

 

What is unexpected-event travel insurance?

The Icelandic ash cloud, civil unrest, strikes – it's not always apparent whether your insurer will cover you if you have to cancel or cut short your holiday for reasons well beyond your control. 

By definition, all events covered by travel insurance are unexpected. But by 'unexpected events cover' we mean disruption that can indirectly affect large groups of travelers, such as business failures or natural catastrophes.

Most policies cover some unexpected events but not all. in some cases, cover for unexpected events is only available at extra cost.

Here we reveal the best policies for covering unexpected events, and what cover to look for in your policy.

 

Best and worst policies for unexpected events cover

After analysing hundreds of policies, we show here the best and worst policies for six major types of unexpected event. The 'best' cover all these events and the 'worst' cover none of them.

Members can log in to see which policies provide the best cover for unexpected events. If you're not already a member, join Which? and get full access to these results and all our reviews.

Brand Policy name Bankruptcy of the holiday supplier included? Bankruptcy of an airline included? Industrial strike included? Volcanic ash included? Terrorism included? Civil unrest included?
Alpha Diamond As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Barclays Bank Travel Pack As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Flexicover Platinum As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Flexicover Diamond As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Get Going Premier As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Get Going Diamond As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
HolidaySafe Premier As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
HolidaySafe Premier Plus As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
HolidaySafe Platinum As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
HSBC Select and Cover As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Insured to Travel Gold As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Insured to Travel Silver As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
InsureWith Sapphire As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
InsureWith Platinum As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Leisurecare Leisurecare Annual Multi-trip - Travellers Choice As standard As standard As Standard As standard As standard As standard
Lets Go Insure Lets Go Insure - Traveller's Choice As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Lets Go Insure Traveller's Choice - OMNI As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
NFU Mutual Home and Lifestyle As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Postcard All Star As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Postcard Legend As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Spectrum Diamond As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard
Topdog Diamond As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard As standard

 

The data to create this table was collected in April 2021 and we'll continue to update it as we become aware of changes. However, we recommend confirming directly with the providers before buying.

What unexpected events do insurers cover?

By unexpected event we tend to mean events that affect large groups of people:

Holiday failure

This is whether the policy can pay out if you lose money because of the bankruptcy of a holiday firm, such as a hotel or tour operator. Around a third of policies provide this as standard.

Airline failure

Also sometimes referred to as 'Safi' (Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance) this is increasingly popular due to the shaky prospects of smaller airlines - and comes as standard in around half of policies. This protection covers you if you book a flight with a provider that goes bust before you fly.

Strike cover

Strike cover provides protection if your flight, and holiday, was delayed or cancelled due to industrial action.

Volcanic ash

In 2010, plumes of ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland disrupted flights across much of Europe. It was an unusual event, and resulted in thousands of travellers having flight plans disrupted.

The Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicated that the volcanic ash episode was as a result of 'poor weather conditions', meaning many travel insurance policyholders got redress.

As a result, many insurers have added a provision to their policies that covers disruption caused by volcanic ash.

Terrorism cover

World events have made travelers more mindful of the possibility that their travel plans may be affected by acts of terror. Around one in four policies offer this as standard. Most don't cover it at all.

Civil unrest

Riots and outbreaks of civil unrest have emerged sporadically in recent times. Some insurers now cover this eventuality, making it worth considering if you are travelling to a potential hot-spot.

Do I need unexpected events cover?

You don't necessarily need to be fully protected by your insurance against certain events to have some peace of mind.

If you've booked with a package holiday firm, for example, you will benefit from ATOL protection if it goes bust, and it will also have to refund you if it cancels your holiday because of a major disruptive event.

If you've paid for your bookings using credit card, you'll be able to make a claim with the card provider if the holiday firm hasn't been able to provide the service you've paid for or refund you.

What about Covid-19?

An unprecedented event which has hugely affected travel is of course the global coronavirus pandemic.

Insurers have begun building 'Covid cover' into their policies, but what this means isn't always clear.

While medical costs related to catching Covid-19 tend to be covered, other situations - like having to cancel your holiday because you've been told to self-isolate - may be excluded. 

We've rated policies on how well they cover typical coronavirus-related incidents.

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