This week, over-50s insurance and holidays specialist Saga announced that treatment abroad for Covid-19 and repatriation to the UK will now be included as standard as part of Saga travel insurance policies for all trips as of 1 June.

The company said that it has added the cover to help customers feel more comfortable travelling once the government advice changes to say that it is safe to do so.

The cover has been added across both standalone travel insurance products and the optional cover offered to all Saga holiday and cruise customers.

The policy update will compensate and care for customers should they fall ill with coronavirus while travelling outside the UK, including those with underlying health conditions.

Saga’s decision to update its policy has come in response to increasing customer demand with 74 per cent of Saga customers saying that they would be unlikely to take out travel insurance if it didn’t cover Covid-19 medical risks.

Saga was one of the first to offer cover to customers stranded due to volcanic ash clouds, pay claims as a result of scheduled airline failure, and offer cover for laptops when they had to be stored in the hold on certain flights.

Head of product, Saga health and travel insurance, Kevin McMullan, said: “Understandably, the current crisis has put travel plans on hold for many people.

Travel insurance covid-19 cover: cruise holidays

“However, with the UK’s strict lockdown measures beginning to lift, more people may be planning both exciting and much-needed trips away over the coming months.

“We recognise that this may be a daunting process, particularly for customers with underlying health concerns. We want to give people the confidence and reassurance that if they were to fall ill abroad, we’re there to help and get them back home safely.

“We’re continuing to review and innovate our products to ensure they work as well as they can for our customers.

“However, we know the impact of coronavirus is far-reaching. We’d encourage customers to contact us directly if they’d like to discuss their individual circumstances and how we can best support them through these uncertain times.”

The question of whether other cruise companies will follow suit in offering Covid-19 travel insurance cover remains to be seen. Indeed, many lines do not offer travel insurance as cruise holidays are often part of a larger holiday package organised by a travel agent or tour operator.

Cruise lines such as Fred Olsen, Holland America Line and Seabourn do not offer their own travel insurance policies, but recommend Holiday Extras to guests, which is now providing cover for emergency and necessary medical treatment should a customer catch coronavirus while on holiday.

Ocean and river cruise brand Viking also does not offer travel insurance services, but strongly recommends that its guests take out suitable insurance before they travel and preferably at or near the time of booking. Travel insurance is compulsory for Viking expedition cruises.

Meanwhile, luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises similarly doesn’t offer its own travel insurance, but has recently implemented a new Crystal Voyage Assurance policy for select 2020 and 2021 sailings.

The new policy, designed to give guests peace of mind, offers an added layer of assurance in the event that unforeseen travel restrictions require significant changes to set itineraries – either embarkation or disembarkation port and/or more than 30 per cent of the published ports of call – allowing guests seven days, from the date of Crystal’s communication of revised itinerary, to cancel for a full 100 per cent cruise fare and port charges refund.

Visit saga.co.uk for more information.