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01 Jan 2020
Adam Bate

Travel cancellation cover - be insured at the right time


An airport departure board showing all flights are cancelled

Learn about how cancellation cover can help you if you run into a problem before you go on holiday.

Cancellation cover is often included as standard in travel insurance policies, but the level of holiday cancellation cover can vary with each insurer.

In general, insurers provide you with a set amount of money that covers you for such situations – usually between £1,000 and £5,000 per person on the policy. Examples of when this can be used include:

  • Accommodation – should you need to pay out for a hotel stay in the event of a cancellation.

  • Excursions – if you’ve already paid for an activity on your holiday that has now been cancelled.

  • Illness or injury – so long as it’s not self-inflicted. It may also be applicable to an illness of a relative, depending on what your policy states.

  • Events out of your control – these include natural disasters, a serious incident at home (e.g. a fire at home) or another similar accident.

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What isn't covered by a cancellation policy?

There are certain circumstances that won’t be covered by your policy, which include:

  • Any pre-existing medical conditions that weren’t declared when initially taking out your policy.

  • Any incidents that you knew about beforehand, such as a long-term illness of one of your close relatives.

  • Any other reason where you’d take out insurance with a pre-meditated intent to make a claim.

In all instances you’d be required to provide substantial evidence to support your claim. The more detail you can provide the easier it will be for insurers to help you with your claim.


Things to consider

It’s important to remember there are different conditions depending on which policy you’re taking out.

A single-trip policy tends to cover you straight away, so any cancellations or issues that occur would likely covered straight away

An annual or multi-trip policy only begins to cover you on the day you agree to – for many this could be the first day of your holiday.

In these cases, you won’t be able to reap the benefits of cancellation cover before your holiday.

Arranging your cancellation cover sooner rather than leaving it at the last minute can make sure you’re covered for any issues that happen before you go on your holiday.

This will also help with the legitimacy of any claims you do make with your insurer.


Flight cancellation – what are my rights?

Usually insurers don’t provide you with assistance for instances where your flight is cancelled.

This is because your airline will be your first port of call for when such issues arise and they should provide you with the advice and cover you need.

It then depends on the airline and which country you're in.


Within the EU

If you are flying with an airline based in the EU and are held up in an airport in an EU country you're entitled to either a refund or a rerouted flight to your planned destination.

The UK leaving the EU hasn't changed this. For more information, visit GOV.UK

What you're entitled to may depend on how long you've been delayed and how far you are from your destination.


Not within the EU

Similarly to if you were travelling within the EU, you could still claim compensation if:

  • Your flight, or connecting flight, has been delayed for more than three hours.

  • The delay or cancellation of the flight was at the fault of the airline.

  • The flights you booked were single bookings.

For example, you might be covered if you were flying to Los Angeles from London with a planned layover in Dublin and your flight was delayed or cancelled.


How to appeal

If you feel you've been unfairly represented in an unresolved complaint with your airline, you have the right to appeal it.

You can contact the Civil Aviation Authority if you feel like you are not receiving what you should be entitled to. There are two options:

  • Contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – file a complaint to the CAA if the airline or airport involved is not a member of an approved ADR body.

  • Conduct an “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) – if your airline or airport is a part of an ADR body you can use their service to resolve a dispute without going to court.


What am I entitled to if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

Should your flight be delayed, rerouted or cancelled you're entitled to certain requirements from your airline including:

  • Food or drink – usually in the form of vouchers from suppliers found in the departure lounge.

  • Access to phone calls and wi-fi – internet access may not be readily available in the airport you’re stuck in, but you should be able to call family members or friends.

  • Accommodation – should you be staying overnight waiting for your next flight. This also includes transport from the airport to the hotel and vice versa.


In summary

Be sure to check what you’ll be covered for when taking out a travel insurance policy and what you are not covered for. You may find you’re not covered for certain circumstances, but you may be able to claim compensation from your airline.


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