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Travel insurance cancellation cover - what you need to know

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In this guide we take a look at what you need to know about travel insurance cancellation cover: What it is, how much policies cost, and what to consider.

A flight board with a list of cancelled flights

Travel insurance cancellation can help you reclaim all or some of your costs should you need to cancel your holiday plans.

Cancellation cover is included as part of most travel insurance policies. Therefore, you should expect to get the money back. But policies vary so you need to check exactly what’s on offer.

It’s often referred to as cancellation and curtailment. The cancellation part means when you can’t go on holiday before the intended departure date.

Curtailment kicks in when you’re forced to cut your vacation short due to unexpected circumstances happening during the trip itself.

Your travel policy should pay out for these cancellation reasons:

  • You or a travelling companion suffers unforeseen illness, injury or bereavement.
  • You’ve abandoned your trip following a flight delay of more than 12 hours to the departure of your outward journey.
  • You've been made redundant.
  • The police needing your presence for something happening at your home within 48 hours of your departure.
  • Being called up for jury duty or summoned as a witness.

In addition, payments could be approved if the government issues a directive advising against all but essential travel to your destination.

Make sure you check what's covered in your policy small print as each policy will differ.

There are certain circumstances that won’t normally be covered by your policy:

  • You've changed your mind and want to cancel your holiday.
  • Your airline cancelling your flights (the airline should be responsible for covering this).
  • Pre-existing medical conditions that weren’t declared when you initially took out the cover.
  • Planned strike or industrial action that was common knowledge at the time you booked the trip.
  • If you’re denied boarding an aircraft due to anti-social behaviour, drug use, alcohol or solvent abuse, your claim will likely be turned down.

Cover usually kicks in when people cancel plans due to an unexpected illness. However, this means the condition must be entirely unanticipated.

It can’t be due to pre-existing medical conditions that haven’t been declared – even if it wasn’t expected to flare up prior to departure. If the insurer believes this to be the case, then it might not pay out. If you do have an existing medical condition, it might be worth looking at pre-existing medical travel insurance.

Proof of your illness might be requested. Generally, you need to provide a certificate giving full details of your illness from your doctor or a relevant medical consultant.

It’s also important to note that cover levels vary between insurance providers. Make sure you check to see if the policy meets your needs before taking it out.

The claims process might differ slightly between insurers, but in general you’ll need to:

1. Contact your insurer immediately if something happens. You should be able to find the contact number on your policy documents.

2. Make a note of your policy number so your claim can be quickly processed.

3. Collate as much detail as possible. The process for making a claim may differ between each insurer but the more detail you can provide, the easier it will be to make the claim.

Generally, it’s advisable to keep every receipt and other important documents just in case you need to make a claim. This includes:

  • Travel tickets
  • Receipts or invoices from the original booking
  • A signed medical note from your GP
  • A signed copy of the death certificate if you had to cancel your plans due to a bereavement
  • Boarding passes
  • Booking confirmations
  • Letters from authorities or public transport providers

Not being able to supply such information could delay your claim

Different policy providers offer various levels of cover. Generally, most offer between £1,000 and £5,000 to cover the costs of cancellation.

However, some insurers will have different levels of protection available – obviously for increasing premiums – to give you an extra level of protection. For example, these different levels may pay out to a maximum of £1,000, £2,500 and £5,000. The higher the premium, the higher the potential pay-out.

You may even get providers to offer cancellation cover of up to £10,000. However, you need to do your research and find out exactly what’s on offer.

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