Gobcan underwrites AXA “covid insurance” policy

Updated 2 October: I am still getting enquiries from people who insist on travelling against official advice by the UK Government, some who are fully aware, it is clear from what they say, that there is no guarantee of cover for anything let alone covid from any insurance company, regardless of what they promise, when travelling against official advice. Some planning to come for some months are also aware that from 1 January their EHIC cover will be problematic to say the least. 

All the enquiries effectively ask the same thing: will the Canarian Government’s underwritten AXA covid insurance policy cover them if they become infected when in Tenerife. There are slight variations in the enquiries. Some are concerned about rearranged flight expenses, others about increased utility bills if they’re forced to stay here, yet others about food costs …

I repeat. The official advice from the UK Government is not to come to Spain at all, and the AXA policy, from what I have been able to ascertain, will cover visitors who test positive when here – official health service tests not private ones – and can show that they did not have covid when they arrived, and who are quarantined by Spain because of their infection. Their expenses will be covered for additional accommodation fees, medicines, any fees relating to hospitalization in a health system hospital – probably Candelaria, repatriation in extremis. Legal receipts will be required, obviously, and for accommodation these will need to contain full identifying details on them including IGIC (Canarian VAT) which all commercial lets must charge.

I cannot believe people find this reassuring and yet here we are. What will not be covered are rearranged flights, phone, laundry, extra expenses in the patient’s own property where there are no invoices to present to show any extra cost incurred, ditto those staying in illegal lets where the owner or agent will not or cannot provide legal invoices. And all this because they fear the consequences of catching covid in a situation where their very interest in the policy before leaving the UK shows that they know that an entirely avoidable risk was being taken.   

I will now just link to this update to answer any further emails. 

Updated 12 September: I still have no answer from Sanidad about this policy, and THIS remains the only information from the Canarian Government. I have no more information and this is now one of the top handful of queries in my mailbag. In my opinion, now, the whole thing is little more than window dressing to try to reassure visitors that the Canaries will have them covered if they test positive here, but at least we have direct confirmation from AXA that the policy exists – see the 12 August update below. Visitors will need to contact AXA themselves for any information beyond this, and make a personal decision on that basis because I cannot provide any further information or reassurance.

I would just add, though, that many correspondents say they want the policy in order to come and be safe. My personal view is that an insurance policy never makes you “safe”. All it does is give you cover when you suffer the consequences of undertaking a risk, and if a risk exists then it and any “safety” is something travellers need to assess for themselves based on the level of risk they are personally prepared to tolerate, and the level of safety they want. “Cover”, not “safety” is what an insurance policy provides! 

Updated 12 August: I am still waiting for a reply from Sanidad about this policy, especially with regard to the rumour that only those in officially approved accommodation will be covered, but I have had a reply from AXA Spain. They say that as far as they are concerned the situation is as follows … you will note that despite a specific question about accommodation status they do not say it must be officially recognized. If I hear any more of course I’ll post it (and yes I’ve seen a poster supposedly from Turismo Canarias saying that accommodation must be a hotel or officially approved place, but it has spelling errors and no link to an official source, and that combination makes me question its authenticity).

La información de la que disponemos es que para todos los turistas, tanto españoles como extranjeros, tendrán garantizada la cobertura de asistencia en viaje por la Covid-19, con gastos médicos, repatriación sanitaria y prolongación de estancia por cuarentena. En caso de que una persona puede verse afectada, el propio Centro de Salud está en contacto con la Consejería de Sanidad Canaria, y activará la póliza de inmediato.  

(The information we have is that all tourists, whether Spanish or foreign, will have guaranteed cover in a case of Covid19 for medical expenses, repatriation for health reasons, and any extension of their stay for quarantine reasons. Anyone who is affected should contact the local surgery which will then contact Sanidad (Canarias), and this will activate the policy immediately.)

Updated 8 August: Further clarification is obviously needed. The policy, about which I have no more details yet than I posted below, does not cover anything other than any covid expenses. Those wishing openly to flout UK Government advice and knowing full well that their travel insurance will be null and void if they go to a no-fly country despite being advised not to now seemingly think that this is an alternative that will cover them instead if they’re burgled, if they break a leg, if they have stuff stolen. It will not. 

To be clear: if you come relying on this policy you will be trusting a policy about which no firm details are yet available and expecting, too, that you will catch covid19 because it is the ONLY conceivable reason you would consider you needed the cover provided by this policy. And if you think you’ll have covid19, please just stay at home, for your sake, and ours!! People, some sanity please.

Original post 6 August: You may have read much on social media about a new insurance policy underwritten by the Canarian Government in collaboration with AXA that will cover tourists if they become infected. Now I’m not trying to be negative but the queries already show I need to stress that this is not what many seem to be taking it for.

The policy, which requires travellers to do nothing, is for any expenses incurred HERE IN THE CANARIES if they have to quarantine because they develop or test positive for covid19 on holiday having come here without knowing they had it. The policy covers repatriation should they need to be returned home in extremely poor health, any specific covid-related medical expenses incurred, and the costs of having to remain here in quarantine because they’re infected.

To be specific – and deal with queries I’ve already had over the past 24 hours (and why I didn’t post this to begin with!) … : this policy does not cover:

  • UK-based quarantine expenses
  • salary lost through being required by the UK Government to quarantine for a fortnight after returning from Spain
  • costs of isolating transport home from any UK airport (so no, it won’t cover a taxi from a UK airport to someone’s house)
  • anything unrelated to covid19, so won’t replace normal travel insurance nor cover cases of broken limbs, accidents, etc …      

I repeat I am not trying to be negative but there is a level of reality that we really need to keep a handle on or we may as well all live in fantasy land. This is a Canarian Government initiative to persuade tourists that the islands are safe. Nothing more. The Government will hope that no-one needs to take advantage of this policy because it will mean that they are in these islands with covid19, but if anyone is in this situation, they won’t have to worry about feeding themselves or having a roof over their head when they comply with SPANISH regulations! Any costs incurred in the UK by BRITISH regulations should be addressed to the UK Government. 

30 Comments

  1. How can I get details and a quote for this insurance?

  2. Author

    As I say above, you don’t need anything. It’s automatically in place for any visitors here who contract covid19 while here, not knowing about it before their visit started, and covers any costs relating directly to their covid diagnosis while here. You don’t need a quote because you don’t need to take it out … but it won’t cover anything other than covid-related costs which everyone will hope no-one ever needs …

  3. I need to travel to keep a bank appointment with regards to the completion of my Spanish property mortgage. Would this be considered essential travel.

  4. Author

    These are UK Gov rules, Peter, I can’t answer that, and whatever they consider an exception is not connected in any way with this Canarian Government-underwritten AXA policy for Covid19 expenses cover only.This is not an alternative policy for anyone whose journey is not considered essential. It is ONLY FOR COVID EXPENSES …

  5. Janet just two words – ‘opening’ and ‘minefield’ – I hope, by your responding to the query, you don’t end up with an avalanche of them!

  6. Hi Janet, I have seen some commentary suggesting that the policy will only cover covid cases if the tourist is staying in registered accommodation (hotels and VV licensed properties) and where the tourist has been registered with the Guardian Civil on their arrival by the property owner. Do you know if this is the case please?

    If it is, can you also advise if the policy will similarly provide covid cover to tourists who have travelled to stay in their own property for a vacation and who do not need to register with the Guardian?

  7. Author

    No it is not the case. It is for any tourists who get covid and covers their medical expenses while here in quarantine or being repatriated. Where they’re staying is irrelevant in terms of the policy though obviously if they’re in illegal accommodation that could cause problems for the owner. As to those staying in their own homes, they won’t have many “accommodation expenses” to pay will they?!

  8. The apartment I’m due to stay in has applied for the VV license and has solicitor letters to confirm. But not been given VV number as yet I have seen email. Will I still be covered for COVId

  9. Author

    I have posted all the info I have. I have requested more. When and if I get that I’ll post it. For the moment, my understanding is that if you can show you are a tourist here, and that you didn’t know you you had it when you left the UK, and have no insurance cover of another kind, then any expenses directly related to covid will be covered. When you say “covered for covid” I don’t know what you mean specifically but these expenses are quite clearly ONLY cost of extended accommodation IF put into quarantine, medicines, or repatriation if very sick.

  10. Hi,ive a holday apt rented out.It dosent have tourist licience.Are my clients covered by canarian govt free insurance,,? Please advise.thankyou.Also does E11 card cover clients

  11. Author

    It depends what you mean by not having a tourist licence. Is it rented out through a sole agent? Or do you illegally let?

    I did not get a reply to my enquiry about this with Turismo and since it requires taxasble invoices to reclaim extra accommodation costs IF 1) someone gets a covid diagnosis here in Tenerife, and 2) Spain puts the person in quarantine beyond the dates they were originally and provably going to stay, then the only safe view is that they will not be covered. If you can provide a tax invoice under those circumstances then they should be covered.

    The E11 is actually the EHIC and it covers emergencies and accidents only.

  12. We have seen the info you have put on your page concerning COVID saying that tourist are covered so long as they contract it whilst in Tenerife. Who would we need to contact to confirm this information to make sure this is actually in place ? Is there someone we can email or call ?

    Many thanks for your time

  13. Author

    Well if you wish to confirm my report you need to speak to the original sources from which I’m reporting which are the Canarian Government or AXA. HERE is the Canarian Government’s announcement anyway.

  14. I don’t think anyone would doubt your excellent reporting! The problem is that there don’t seem to have been any published details including terms and conditions, what is covered etc. People need to know how the policy would dovetail with their other insurance policies. This is causing some potential visitors to be put off due to still worrying about whether the policy actually exists and what could happen if they might become ill with COVID while in Tenerife. Might your previous contact at AXA be able to provide more information?

  15. Author

    no … their answer was:

    ” la información de la que disponemos es que para todos los turistas, tanto españoles como extranjeros, tendrán garantizada la cobertura de asistencia en viaje por la Covid-19, con gastos médicos, repatriación sanitaria y prolongación de estancia por cuarentena. En caso de que una persona puede verse afectada, el propio Centro de Salud está en contacto con la Consejería de Sanidad Canaria, y activará la póliza de inmediato”.

    Beyond that, I’ve failed to get any further with Sanidad. Presumably they have more urgent things to deal with but I’ve not had a response, which is unusual.

    Personally I admit that I just don’t understand people. There will be cover – only of directly covid related expenses – IF someone is found covid-positive here, didn’t know it before they came, AND is put into quarantine by Spain, AND is therefore required to extend accommodation, need medical treatment or repatriation. Those are pretty remote circumstances, and if anyone is genuinely concerned about whether this particular cover exists then they are effectively anticipating catching covid. If I were anticipating that I would stay at home! I appreciate others will think differently but this is really an absolutely last resort policy purely for covid. No-one should, in my view, base holiday decisions on it!

  16. Janet, taking on board all your comments on the most important issue at the moment, COVID – 19, my husband and I are due to come over to Tenerife on the 1st October but just as a point of interest, my husband spoke with our Travel Insurance Company advisor who clarified and confirmed that if the FCO advice against all but essential travel to Spain / Canaries is still in place at the 1st October and we still decided to travel, ALL of our Insurance Cover will be invalidated. As long as that is clear with people, it’s then up to them whether they travel or not.

  17. Author

    Absolutely, Florence. It is individual choice but people need to be aware that it’s odds-on that their travel insurance won’t be valid, and there is another factor I’ve tried to stress that for me is almost more important, and that is that FCO assistance will not be available for anyone who gets into trouble of any sort here which requires Consulate help, whether accident, assault, loss, or worse. People will be very much on their own. Some find travelling like that fine, others don’t. It’s up to everyone to decide for themselves.

  18. Our travel insurance with a large UK bank has been confirmed as still valid as we booked pre Covid
    So different companies do have different criteria
    A number of UK companies are offering Covid insurance and it seems to fall into 3 types so it’s a case of reading the small print before purchasing
    We are arriving soon and with the very large increase in UK cases we will feel safer in Tenerife especially due to the rules there, the enforcement of them and the larger issue of maintaining the rules to keep us safe in the UK

  19. David, your policy may very well cover you for Covid but people should be clear that the FCO is still advising against non essential travel. This may invalidate insurance policies regardless of covid cover or not. Certainly as Janet stated earlier there will be no FCO support for travellers choosing to ignore their advice.

    That said I am sure you will have a wonderful time. Stay safe and well, respect the rules here and you will be welcomed with the usual Canarian hospitality.

  20. The problem with all these insurance companies David is that until you try to claim you simply will never know. As you know insurance companies try to get our of all sort of claims under normal circumstances so this will give them a reason to not pay out.I have spoken to 2 different people at the same company we have used for long stay and they have both given different answers but most are unanimous in that if you travel against FCO advice you are not covered even with an annual policy. However if you are allowed to travel and arrive at your home abroad and the advice changes when you are there then you will still be covered. You really have to do your own risk assessment and make your own decision based on your health. I don’t know how the Spanish would view people trying to claim on an E11 if they were advised not to travel and had no insurance as it is not easy in normal times.

  21. If I’ve booked a villa through AirBnB does that count as regulated accommodation?

  22. Author

    No, not necessarily. Illegal lets are conducted through AirBnB just as legal ones are. What will matter is whether someone who comes here and tests positive here for covid, and is then put into quarantine and incurs extra expense as a direct result (which is the only time the policy pays out), can justify their expenses when submitting their claim. They’ll be claiming recompense so will need to provide receipts of what they’re claiming, and clearly anyone letting illegally will often refuse to supply such evidence for obvious reasons.

  23. AirBnB does that count as regulated accommodation? ,😂😂😂😂

  24. I don’t think it is regulated on a residential complex when renting is prohibited but some owners think that they above to law and will never be caught Ray.

  25. Author

    Residential complexes can’t ban retroactively, so even those complexes which have introduced bans might have legitimate rental properties. The key to ALL this is whether the property has a legitimate VV plaque. To be legal, a property must have one, and must display it. It will have a registration number on it to check legality. Before booking people need to ask for evidence of registration, and confirmation that a tax invoice (with local VAT which is called IGIC) on it will be issued.

  26. I am due to go out to Tenerife on 4th October for an extended stay. With Janet’s reports on number of cases it would also be very useful to know how many per 100,000. This is what the UK government puts so much store in. For example the UK government seems to put an area or country on the exclusion list if the number per 100,000 goes over 20. Based on Tenerife having a population of 950,000 (although I don’t know about visitors) and that they have 50 to 60 new cases per day, then I calculate that Tenerife has about 6 per 100,000, so very low. So I hope a travel corridor soon.
    Also, I wanted to comment on travel insurance. A company called Staysure will cover everything apart from what a country is put on the “all but essential travel” list. So for Tenerife it won’t cover for Covid and time of travel. But the Canarian government will cover Covid. So I think this is a good choice.

  27. Author

    If you look HERE you will see that I already provide them weekly when they are issued by the Government. The last one was to 9 September and was issued on the 11th when I updated this post: Tenerife’s figure per 100,000 was 35.84.

    As to insurance policies, please check very very carefully what will be covered, especially in regard to whether you are required to use state hospitals or not. Anyone coming to south Tenerife is likely to be taken to a hospital that’s at least part private if they require an ambulance and it is likely that some policies simply will not cover any treatment required in them.

    And above all do remember the legal advice I’ve passed on now several times from qualified lawyers: whatever a policy might say, if you are doing something that goes against the law or official advice – and currently coming to Tenerife is clearly against GovUK advice, it is unlikely to be covered … regardless of what is promised when the premium is taken. That is from qualified lawyers, not me. “Regardless of what is promised when the premium is taken”.

  28. I am visiting my family on the golf for 3 weeks in December.
    Subject of course to being allowed to travel.
    My travel insurance is excluding cover for Coronavirus but am I correct in assuming that if I was unfortunate to catch it whilst in Tenerife that my EHC would allow my treatment in hospital?
    I understand that I would not be able to claim expenses etc on the Axa policy as I would not be in tourist accommodation

  29. Author

    It will provide medical care for covid but only to a basic level, and won’t cover any quarantine related expenses, nor repatriation.

  30. Author

    I am now closing this post to comments. I will just make these final points.

    1. Official advice from the UK Government is not to travel to any part of Spain.
    2. Lawyers say they are not surprised that some insurance companies are offering policies that promise everything but which may well not pay out in the case of violations of travel advice from Governments, even when they specifically say beforehand that they will. I have details of three lawyers who have said they will be very happy to help when any legal action is required to deal with a refusal to pay out on a policy.
    3. EHICs will cover basic treatment. Nothing more, and if you get covid you are likely to need much more. There is also uncertainty as to what will happen with the EHIC from 1.1.21 and GovUK says, anyway, that you need insurance IN ADDITION to it – see HERE.
    4. The AXA/Gobcan policy will cover you if ALL the following apply:
    * you can show you did not have covid when you came
    * test positive here
    * are put into quarantine by Spain
    * have provable additional expenses as a direct result.

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