Events like the Tunisian riots and freak flooding across parts of Australia, Brazil and Sri Lanka bring home how important it is to have holiday protection if things go wrong. And aside from climatic conditions, it could be an airline going bust or holiday company collapse that scuppers your trip. So what can you do to protect yourself and your cash?
1. Don’t cancel
Seems the obvious thing to do if you hear of disturbances or bad weather at your destination; but take the decision to cancel yourself, and you’ll be out of pocket. Wait for your airline or holiday company to ‘cancel’ your trip so you can get a refund or alternative holiday.
2. Look for ATOL bonding
Book a package holiday (including flights) and your cash is protected under the ‘ATOL’ scheme, run by the Civil Aviation Authority. This way you’ll be flown home if your airline or travel operator goes bust and get a refund if this happens before you leave. Check a company’s ATOL license here.
3. Book with an ABTA member
Booking through a tour operator or travel agent? Check they belong to ABTA - The Travel Association. Over 90 per cent of agents and operators are members, which means your money is protected if things go wrong and they’ll investigate any complaints on your behalf.
4. Take out travel insurance
Forced to cancel a trip because you get sick or have an accident? This is when your travel insurance kicks in. But only providing you cancel on the advice of your GP - rather than a self diagnosis; so get something in writing as proof for your insurer.
5. Pay by credit card
This can bump up your bill by around 3 per cent but gives you extra protection under the Consumer Credit Act. If what you’re buying costs £100 or more you can ask your credit card company to stump up if the supplier goes bust. This option proved a lifeline for passengers booked with Swansea based ‘Diamond Coaches’ which recently went into administration; as the company wasn’t ABTA registered.
6. Pay by debit card
There’s no legal protection with this; unlike paying by credit card; but if you use a ‘visa debit’ card you can claim for losses under its ‘chargeback’ scheme. There’s no minimum spend and you’ve up to 120 days to make a claim through your bank.
7. Scheduled airline failure cover
Pays out if the ‘scheduled’ airline you’re booked with goes bust; although in some cases you may already be covered if you’ve booked a package deal. Cover can be an ‘add on’ on travel insurance; although around 20 per cent of insurers include this as standard paying out up to £1,500 per person.
8. Independent traveller insurance
If you’ve organised flights and accommodation yourself you may have no comeback in the event of airline strikes. But ‘independent traveller’ insurance pays out in this case; and covers any additional costs you incur like booking another flight. Companies like M&S Money offer this as standard with annual policies. Compare travel insurance providers here.
9. Read the small print
Tempted to say you’ve read those ‘terms and conditions’ when you haven’t? Don’t - as this is where you’ll find stuff like the fact your airline can increase fares due to higher fuel bills; or that your flight times can be changed which is vital to know if you’ve got connecting flights.
10. Take your contacts
Take all contact numbers with you along with copies of booking forms. And make sure you’ve got ‘calling from abroad’ numbers to avoid the more costly ‘0870’ numbers that will cost a fortune from your mobile.