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COVID-19 FAQ: Insurance and Travel

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If I am on an approved University trip and require a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test what should I do?

Topics covered: insurance cover for equipment; car parking; public transport; approval process for travel; travelling in the UK; travelling abroad; travel insurance; VISA expiration.

The government advice is constantly changing, and these FAQ's will be updated as soon as possible as and when the advice changes and as such should be monitored before booking any travel.

The information below applies to staff travel. Please see these FAQs for information for students.

Questions 

Is University equipment covered by insurance?

Yes, the University insurance covers items such as laptops that are removed from campus whilst at home and/or travelling. Other items and equipment that have been temporarily removed from site are also covered.

Before removing any equipment from campus, please seek approval from your Head of School or Function. A record should be kept within your School or Function of any equipment taken, and all items will need to be returned and checked off the list on receipt.

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Will my personal home insurance cover me for working from home?

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), if you are an office-based worker and need to work from home because of government advice or because you need to self-isolate, your home insurance cover will not be affected. More information on is available on the ABI's COVID-19: what you need to know webpage.

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Will car parking be affected by social distancing measures?

No, they will operate as they did before the pandemic.

If you are using carparks, please be courteous and mindful of other colleagues around you. If you are near another person entering/exiting their car or buying a ticket, please give them the space and time to do what they need to do.

It will not be feasible for the parking machine in Car Park 1A to be cleaned after each use, so please wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the machine when you enter your building.

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I normally use public transport to get to work. What should I do?

If you are able to continue to work from home then you should do so, but if your role requires you to work on campus then please consider what other forms of transport might be open to you if that is possible, eg walking or cycling. If you choose to drive, you can pay for a parking permit while required, using the normal process, and cancel it when you no longer need it.

If you do need to use public transport, please follow the official government guidance, such as wearing face coverings. You may also be able to reduce your need to travel during peak times, with consent from your line manager.

We appreciate that some may feel anxious about using public transport, especially those in vulnerable groups. If you are concerned or run into difficulty, please don't hesitate to speak to your line manager. 

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Can I travel abroad for personal reasons in the summer or for the Christmas break?

If you are travelling abroad for personal reasons, including to visit family overseas or for a holiday, you should ensure that you take account of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice before you plan your travel and are aware of any quarantine restrictions on your return to the UK. Please speak to your line manager before making plans to travel abroad.

You may be able to arrange to work remotely during a quarantine period if it will not affect the operational requirements of your role or your team as we progress through our phased return to campus, but it is imperative you have consent to do so. However, if your role or your line manager requires you to work on campus you will need to factor in time spent in quarantine, which may require you to take additional annual leave or unpaid leave. This must also be agreed in advance with your line manager. 

It may not always be possible to accommodate longer absences from campus, so it is essential you speak to your manager before making any plans or confirming bookings. If travel had already been booked prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and cannot be moved or cancelled, please discuss the options with your manager.

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Can I travel for University activity?

Decisions to grant permission to travel will be assessed on a country-by-country basis. We will be informed by:

  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance;
  • guidance from our insurance provider; 
  • government and institutional policies in the host country.

If you wish to travel within the UK or overseas, you must follow the process outlined below. Completion and approval of the updated Risk Assessment is mandatory.

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How should I gain approval to travel? 

In order to gain approval for travel within the UK and overseas, please follow this procedure:

  1. Obtain and review information on the country or countries you plan to visit on the government’s foreign travel advice page and the Drum Cussac webpage (This a Risk Management service provided by our insurers to give the user Risk advice for countries based on several criteria. You will need to register for this using your staff email address).
  2. Complete appropriate Risk Assessment & Health & Safety forms.
  3. Obtain quotes for travel plans with our Travel Management Company, CTM, and pass these on to your Head of School/Function and Health & Safety Co-Ordinator. You may also require additional authorisation from the Vice-Chancellor if you plan to travel to a high-risk area. 
  4. If authorisation to travel is given, confirm these with the travel management company. Notify our Insurance team by emailing uor-insurance@reading.ac.uk if you need to arrange additional levels of insurance , depending on where you are travelling to. You should also arrange a VISA at this stage, if necessary.
  5. Once the insurance and relevant VISA is in place, book your travel through the appropriate Travel Management Company.
  6. If travelling overseas, please complete and submit the Overseas Travel Form.
  7. After your booking has been completed, please continue to monitor travel advice in case the situation changes (i.e. new outbreak or revised travel guidance). Copies of this must be retained as they will be requested by Insurers if there was a claim. Speak to your line manager if you have any concerns. 

It is recommended that you obtain permission to travel and complete all necessary documentation at least 28 days in advance of travel, where possible. This includes the relevant Risk Assessments. 

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How should travel be booked?

You can only book travel once approval has been given by your Head of School or Function, or Vice-Chancellor where applicable.

The booking process will vary slightly depending on whether you intend you travel within the UK or overseas.

  • UK travel: All UK flights must be booked through our Travel Management Company. You can also book accommodation and other means of travel through the Travel Management Company, or make a direct booking through an appropriate public transport provider or hotel.
  • Overseas: All flights and local travel must be booked through our Travel Management Company. Accommodation should also be booked through our travel management company unless offered by an event organiser (such as the host of a conference).

Do I need to keep in touch with anyone if I am abroad?

If you are permitted to travel, please ensure you keep in regular contact with your line manager so that they know you are safe and well.

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Is COVID-19 covered under our insurance?

Yes, our insurance policy includes cover for contracting COVID-19 if travelling for business purposes - however, you must adhere to local government or FCO advice.

This situation is being monitored closely, and any changes will be communicated as soon as possible.

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Can I travel to countries not on the ‘exempted from all but essential travel' list?

In some very specific cases, the University may grant travel to an area otherwise advised against by the FCO. An appropriate Risk Assessment would have to be carried out, which would include an assessment of the regional and local impact of COVID-19, plus a full itinerary. Approval would need to be obtained from Health & Safety, your Head of School/Function and the Vice-Chancellor.

Travel would be covered by our insurance, although cover will not apply for the following: 

  • Cancellation/curtailment
  • Political/natural disaster evacuation
  • Crisis management

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Can I travel to an Exempted Country, for research/placement/ fieldwork purposes?

If the University has approved travel, then yes, you could travel and insurance would cover you.  During such time of a trip (or even prior to departure) the FCO advice is re-enforced "against all but essential travel" then full cover will apply.

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What happens if the FCO changes its advice and recommends against "all but essential travel" to the country I am planning to visit?

Before you travel, you should monitor the UK FCO website regularly to keep up to date with the latest information for the country you are planning to visit.

If the UK FCO advice "against all but essential travel" for the country you are travelling to is re-enforced prior to your trip, you must re-submit your Risk Assessment form for re-consideration.

If the advice changes while you are already overseas, you will be covered by University Insurance and we will contact students affected to provide further information about recommended next steps. 

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If I live outside the UK and get approval for University travel, will I be insured?

Yes, but you will need to seek approval by completing the relevant Risk Assessment (see above). Additional approval would also need be obtained from the University's insurers, and it is possible certain elements of cover may not be granted. There may also be an additional Insurance premium required - you will be informed once the decision has been made by the insurance company.

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What if I can't leave the UK, or my visa is expiring?

The UK Home Office has published detailed guidance on the support available if you are facing uncertainty about the expiry date of your current visa or leave to remain in the United Kingdom.

Subject to this guidance, most people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by the coronavirus outbreak can get an automatic extension of their visa until 31 July 2020. However, they must update their record by contacting the Home Office.

Current students who receive an extension in this way must then provide a copy of the visa extension confirmation to immigration@reading.ac.uk. If you are affected by this and have any further questions or need immigration support, please contact the International Student Advisory team at immigration@reading.ac.uk.

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If I am on an approved University trip and require a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test what should I do?

You have two options:

  1. Book a private test and claim back on expenses or via a purchase card.
  2. If the traveller cannot comply with the entry requirements or arrange a test within the specific timeframe required, then they cannot travel.

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If I have completed the risk assessment etc., have booked travel and then develop COVID-19 symptoms and do not travel, am I able to reclaim the costs of cancelling the trip?

Provided you have booked to travel to an exempted territory, and this remains exempted at time of departure, then cancellation owing to injury or illness (including COVID-19) will be covered. Each claim is viewed on its own merits in accordance with policy and terms and conditions.

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