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Coronavirus: will travel insurance protect me from cancelled summer holidays?

Coronavirus: will travel insurance protect me from cancelled summer holidays?
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As the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine continues across the UK, there are high hopes about the prospects of summer holidays this year. But with nothing confirmed yet, you’re probably wondering what your rights are if you book a holiday now. Can travel insurance protect you from cancelled summer holidays as a result of coronavirus? 

Read on to find out.

Are summer holidays actually happening?

That’s the million-dollar question. And as of right now, no one knows for sure.

The government is saying that it’s too early to tell whether summer holidays can go ahead.

Airlines and travel companies seem to be more optimistic. Despite the current lockdown restrictions, some are already selling flights and package deals for the summer holiday season.

Lockdown rules are up for review over the next few weeks. We don’t know if and to what extent the rules might be eased. It all probably depends on whether the vaccine and the current lockdown restrictions are successful in bringing transmission rates down.

If you’re thinking of booking a summer holiday, it’s probably safer to wait for the government to give clearer guidance.

Can I get a refund for a cancelled summer holiday?

Yes.

If you book a packaged holiday, you’re entitled to a refund if the holiday is cancelled. You should also get a refund if you booked a flight independently and it’s cancelled.

Unfortunately, throughout the pandemic, many airlines and holiday companies have had a backlog of refund claims. That means that it might take you longer than usual to get your refund.

Some operators might also offer you a voucher or an option to rearrange your trip. It’s up to you to decide whether to accept this or insist on a refund.

Will travel insurance cover me for a holiday cancelled due to coronavirus?

Well, that depends on a couple of factors.

If you buy a new travel insurance policy right now, many providers will still not cover holiday cancellations caused by coronavirus.

But things are starting to change.

A few companies are now providing travel insurance cover for holidays impacted by coronavirus. Some are even including foreign office (FCDO) cover, which includes cover if government advice and travel corridors change. 

But as always, check the small print to ensure you’ll have cover if your holiday is cancelled.

If you have an existing travel insurance policy and your holiday is cancelled because of the coronavirus, whether you are covered will depend on your circumstances:

  • You might still be able to claim for a cancellation if you booked your holiday before the FCDO issued a travel ban or warning for your destination.  
  • If you booked your trip after the FCDO issued a travel ban or warning for your destination, you’re unlikely to have cover in the event of a cancellation.
  • You are likely to have cover for a cancelled holiday booked before the onset of the pandemic.

Naturally, your insurer will expect you to attempt to get a refund from your airline or travel company before you make a claim.

What if I don’t have coronavirus travel insurance and can’t get a refund?

If you paid for your holiday with a credit card, you might be able to get your funds back through a Section 75 claim.

In fact, making a claim under Section 75 could see you get more of your money back.

Unlike an insurance claim, there is no requirement to pay an excess. There’s also no limit on how much you can claim (as long as the amount you paid is below £30,000).

Finally, it’s wise to make sure that your holiday is ATOL-protected. This will cover you in the event that your travel company goes bust before or during your holiday. It will ensure that you get a full refund or are able to finish your trip and get back home.

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