Claiming for cancelled holidays

Seven travel insurance questions answered

Find out if you can make a claim for a cancelled trip during lockdown

Few industries have felt the impact of the coronavirus lockdown like the Travel sector. A lot of people have had their holidays either cancelled or postponed in recent months, leaving many confused about their compensation options.

If a cancelled trip has left you feeling lost, stranded and out of pocket, don’t worry. We can’t get you off your sofa and on a plane, but we can answer seven key questions about how to make a claim with your insurer or try to get a refund elsewhere. 

If your trip has been cancelled

1. Is the pandemic considered an act of God?

An act of God, which falls within the concept of force majeure, refers to an unforeseen circumstance in the eyes of insurers and could impact whether or not insurers pay compensation. Some travel insurers say coronavirus fits this description, while others disagree. If you’re seeking compensation based on coronavirus being regarded as an unforeseeable disruption, check the fine print on your documents, then double check with your provider directly.

2. Can I get my money back?

Maybe, but this could depend on whether your booking was covered by ABTA/ATOL or whether you paid with a credit card. Where people are due a refund, some airlines and travel agents have been offering alternative bookings or vouchers instead of cash refunds. But you don’t have to accept these, and if you don’t want to you should make it clear in writing you will only accept a refund.

To make your case for a full refund, we’d recommend specifying in writing that it’s what you expect. Try and find a specific person to contact – perhaps by doing an internet search or calling the company to ask – and address them by name. And if you can find a clause in the terms and conditions of your holiday contract or insurance policy referring to refunds, you should quote it.

3. Who should I approach for compensation?

If you’re looking to be refunded for a cancelled trip this year, approach the airline if you booked a flight directly or the agent if you booked a package holiday. If you aren’t satisfied with their response, contact your travel insurer or credit card provider.

Your travel insurance will only offer compensation for any money you couldn’t recover. A successful claim will depend largely on your specific providers, your individual booking and the exact circumstances of the cancellation.

If your trip hasn’t been cancelled

4. Will I be refunded if my airline goes into administration?

Your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you in the event of a company collapse. However, your travel operator might.

If your booking is ATOL-protected, you’re guaranteed a refund – and most package holidays booked through travel agents are. If you booked directly through the airline, you’re more at risk. In the event that you aren’t ATOL-protected, not all hope is lost.

If you paid by credit card, you could still try to claim against your credit card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act for payments over £100, but under £30,000. It’s important to note that Section 75 claims only pertain to credit cards, and not charge cards or debit cards.

5. Can I be refunded if I don’t want to travel due to coronavirus?

You don’t have a right to a refund if you cancel your booking because you no longer want to travel. Your operator may be accommodating though, so it’s still worth checking. 

If you don’t want to travel now, but are willing to postpone the trip, some operators might be willing to let you change the booking.  

If you haven’t booked your trip yet

6. Can I book a trip for the future?

You can book a trip for the future, but the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) is advising against all foreign travel for an indefinite period. And, even for domestic trips, it’s worth considering that social distancing rules could remain in place long after lockdown ends.

A lot of companies are reviewing and updating their T&Cs amid the pandemic, which means it may be harder to get a refund on future cancellations. This unfortunately means you may not be covered by your credit card either, as changes in policy will make a breach of contract harder to prove. So, if you are considering a future trip, make sure to read all the T&Cs before paying for anything.

7. Can I get insurance for a trip in the future? 

Your options for travel insurance will be limited if you decide to book a trip. More than 30 major providers have stopped offering travel cover, and the ones that are left have coronavirus exemption clauses. If you’re still determined to travel, check any policy documents carefully before you buy.