Holiday refund rights – everything you need to know about booking a trip and protecting your pocket

HOLIDAYMAKERS will be able to head abroad for some sun from May 17 at the earliest – but where you can go may be restricted.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to reveal the full list of Covid-secure destinations at a Downing Street press conference today.

🔵 Read our coronavirus and green list announcement live blog for the latest updates

He will also announce a traffic light system that will show holidaymakers where is safe to book a trip abroad this evening.

Brits returning from "green" countries won't have to quarantine as long as they can show a negative Covid test when they arrive back in the UK.

"Amber" countries will involve spending 10 days in quarantine on your return to the UK and regular PCR tests.

"Red" countries will mean a 10-day stay in managed hotel quarantine which costs £1,750 per person.

Israel, Malta and Gibraltar are expected to be put on the green list, which has caused prices for travel to these destinations to rocket in the past 12 hours.

Of course, travellers will also have to take into account any Covid-rules the country you are visiting has put in place, such as testing and vaccine requirements.

We take you through what extra steps you should take to protect your cash if you're thinking about booking a trip abroad.

How can I protect my cash?

Thinking about booking a holiday this summer but are worried about forfeiting your cash if something goes wrong?

There are a handful of things you can do to protect your money from the event of Covid cancellations.

Book a package holiday

Package holidays are protected by the Package Holiday Regulations.

Under package holiday rules, firms are legally required to refund customers in full within 14 days if part or all of the trip is cancelled by the provider, including if there is a travel ban.

This means if you the Government issues a last minute travel ban on the country you're due to visit, then you should get your money back.

This includes trips where the airlines have refused to cancel flights, despite the ban.

However, a recent investigation by Which? found that not all package holiday firms are playing by the rules.

Travel: What are your rights to a refund?

MILLIONS of Brits have had holiday plans cancelled. Here's what to do if you're affected.

Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.

You are entitled to a cash refund if it's cancelled your holiday but many have large delays processing cash or may offer vouchers instead.

If the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to countries or regions, you may also be covered for cancellations by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.

Keep in mind travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCDO advice changed, otherwise you won't be covered.

If you don't have travel insurance or the excess on your insurance is so high it's not worth claiming, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.

Debit card claims or credit card claims of under £100 may be covered under similar Chargeback guarantees.

It named Love Holidays, On the Beach, Teletext Holidays and TravelUp as the firms not giving clear advice to customers.

It's worth confirming what the company's policy is on specific scenarios before making a booking, including whether you have to quarantine on arrival or return.

Look for ATOL and ABTA protection

Before booking, travellers should always check to see if their holiday provider is ABTA or ATOL protected.

ABTA stands for Association of British Travel Agents while ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser's Licence.

The two organisations cover different kinds of package holidays depending on the mode of transport and a travel firm can sell both ABTA and ATOL protected holidays.

ATOL-protected holidays are package holidays that include flights.

ABTA protection only covers holidays that involve rail, cruise or self-drive but not package breaks where flights are included.

This means that if a cruise holiday was mis-sold, for example, then ABTA would be able to help rather than ATOL – unless the cruise holiday was sold as a package break.

If you're mis-sold an ABTA protected package holiday, or parts of the trip are cancelled, you might be able to get an alternative holiday or a refund as compensation.

ATOL gives you the same protection plus covers flight cancellations.

Both will also protect your cash if the holiday provider goes into administration.

Flexible cancellations policies

Look for holiday firms and companies that offer a flexible booking policy.

Some allow you to cancel at short notice and get a full refund, while others will let you change the dates or destination of your trip if coronavirus rules change before you head off.

For example, First Choice and Tui holidays automatically include "Covid Cover," which lets you amend your trip for free if you contract Covid-19 or are required to isolate.

But before making a booking, check the small print and ask the provider exactly what their policy is for situations like quarantining and Covid cancellations.

Pay by credit card

You can get extra protections when paying by credit card, such as if your airline goes bust.

If you're struggling to get a refund for a cancelled trip, you may also be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.

If you booked by debit card, you may be able to claim a refund via your bank using the Chargeback scheme.

Chargeback can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you didn't receive.

Claims apply for purchases made by debit card, or by credit card for purchases under £100, and must be done within 120 days of the transaction.

Can I get a refund if I cancel my trip?

There's always a risk that a green country could be moved to amber before your trip goes ahead, and with that comes quarantining rules.

What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?

TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some "must have

  • Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
  • Repatriation service – The costs of getting you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
  • Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
  • Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
  • Delay – You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
  • Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.

Not everyone can afford to do this, either financially or time-wise.

Unfortunately, holiday providers don't have to refund you if the government guidance changes, but some companies are offering their own policies on this.

Have a look at the small print or ask the operator directly if they offer support for cancellations due to self-isolation rules before making the booking.

Some may let you change the dates of your trip either for free or a for a fee, offer you a credit note or voucher, or even let you cancel and get a refund.

Will travel insurance cover me?

Last year, many insurance firms changed the small print of their travel policies to exclude coronavirus-related issues.

But many have adapted their policies to include Covid-19 woes, including cancellations and illness related costs.

However, what you're covered for depends on the policy – usually the more you pay the more you're covered for.

Most insurers will now cover your medical costs if you contract the virus while on holiday, but only a few will payout for cancellations.

 The majority will not cover you if you travel against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice.

Only one in 10 will cover you if a positive or missed Covid tests prevents you from boarding a flight, reports the BBC, so it's important to check the small print.

 

 

 

 

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