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Should you book a holiday?

With a little forward planning, you can reduce the impact of things going wrong.


Since the outbreak of coronavirus, booking a holiday has become more complicated – adventurous even. There are so many unknowns to consider. Will the flights go ahead? Will you get ill while you’re away? Will you have to quarantine when you get home?

You may not be able to guarantee your holiday will go without a hitch. But with a little forward planning, you can reduce the impact of things going wrong. Here are some questions for you to consider.

Is your destination on the exemption list?

The situation is constantly changing. Many countries that were initially deemed safe have been removed from the list. And some have since become 'safe' again.

For the latest guidance, visit GOV.UK’s travel corridors page. You’ll find links to all the individual countries on the list with details of any entry restrictions, including whether you have to quarantine when you get there. You can also sign up to get email alerts whenever these pages are updated.

Are you able to quarantine when you get home?

Even if your destination is on the travel corridor list when you book, it could be removed at any time. When returning to the UK from overseas, be prepared that you may need to self-isolate for 14 days. This means:

  • not leaving the place where you’re staying – not even to go to work or walk the dog

  • having food and groceries delivered

  • only exercising in your home or garden

If work or other commitments would make self-isolating difficult, you might be better looking for a holiday in the UK. But even here the situation is fluid and there’s always the chance of local lockdowns.

Is the holiday you’re considering ATOL or ABTA protected?

Coronavirus has brought much economic uncertainty. While unlikely, there’s always a chance that your holiday firm could go into administration before you leave or while you’re away.

With an ATOL, or ABTA, protected holiday, if your travel firm goes bust before you set off then you’ll get a full refund. And if it happens while you’re away, chartered flights will bring you home. This kind of protection is not a substitute for travel insurance, but it can provide some extra peace of mind.

ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser's Licence. ATOL protection applies to package holidays that include flights. ABTA is the operating name of what was formerly known as the Association of British Travel Agents. ABTA protection covers holidays that involve rail, cruise or self-drive but not flights.

If you already have travel insurance, what’s covered?

If you’ve had a policy in place and booked your trip before the pandemic hit the UK in mid-March, you should still be covered for coronavirus-related disruption. And don’t forget, this includes UK holidays too. But before booking anything new, check with your insurer to see what sort of cover you’d have if:

  • you travel to countries where restrictions are still in place

  • your destination was removed from the exempt list after you booked

  • you or someone you’re close to gets coronavirus before you’re due to travel

  • you or someone you come into contact with gets coronavirus while you’re away

  • you get quarantined at an airport

For details of the travel cover offered through HSBC policies, see our coronavirus travel guidance.

If you don’t already have travel insurance, what sort of cover is available?

As coronavirus is a known event, you may struggle to get cover for coronavirus-related cancellations. But there are plenty of other things you’ll be covered for, such as:

  • medical costs, including the cost of treating you and getting you back home

  • lost or stolen baggage

  • delays or missed flights

  • personal liability for any injuries you cause

To find out more, read should you get travel insurance?

If you decide to get travel insurance, it makes sense to buy it as soon as you book your holiday. Because as well as covering you while you’re away, travel insurance could also cover you for things that might go wrong before you travel, such as:

  • finding out your travel company’s gone out of business

  • being made redundant

  • getting ill or injured

  • experiencing a death in the family

If you’re planning 2 or more trips within a 12-month period, then annual or ‘multi-trip cover’ is usually cheaper. Although it depends on where you're travelling to and how long you’re going for, so compare the cost and cover against a single-trip policy before buying.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we’re no longer selling single and multi-trip travel insurance policies to new customers. However, we’re still offering comprehensive worldwide travel insurance as one of the options in our multi-cover policy, Select and Cover. And it even provides some cover for cancellations related to coronavirus.

Important things to know about Select and Cover

Cover starts from £19.50 per month for 3 options and there’s 7 different types of insurance to choose from. It covers you, your partner and any children living with you who are under 18 – or under 23 if they’re in full-time education and living at home during the holidays. And it’s available to HSBC UK customers who are registered for online banking. The Worldwide Travel option is provided by Aviva Insurance Limited and cover is provided up to the age of 70.