In response to the spread of the coronavirus the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised UK nationals against all but essential international travel. This advice took effect on 17th March and is in place for an initial period of 30 days until 16th April. Globally borders are being closed and other travel restrictions being enforced to combat this pandemic.
I am very aware that many of you are unsure what to do about holidays you’ve booked and whether you’re entitled to a refund. Also, I appreciate that with things changing hourly it is difficult to know what your options are when it comes to booking future holidays or rescheduling the ones you have had to cancel. To add to the confusion many insurance companies are no longer accepting corona-related claims due to the pandemic.
Below I have answered some of the more frequently asked questions which I hope will help to give some clarity.
Can I get money back from a cancelled holiday due to coronavirus? Yes, you are entitled to a full refund on any package holidays or flights that were scheduled for before 16th April and now cancelled. Due to sheer volume of bookings being affected these are mostly being offered as a vouchers, or credit note or a chance to rebook. Where possible I would recommend you move your booking rather than cancelling as we expect to see the costs of holidays rise after the lockdown due to high demand.
Also, the new advice from the FCO means you can claim consequential losses i.e. hotel rooms and car hire, from your travel insurer, if you want a refund this is now your first port of call. However, as disease outbreak is considered an extraordinary circumstance you won’t get any compensation for things like flight delay.
Will airlines issue refunds? Many flights have been cancelled because of the FCO advise on not to travel and because of border restrictions. You will be due a refund if you flight is cancelled but airlines are experiencing extremely high call volumes. The advice that unless urgent it is best to wait a few days when things should have settled down a bit. Again the majority of these refunds are being offered in a credit format.
If your flight hasn’t been cancelled but you would rather not fly because of the FCO warning, then airlines are allowing people to rebook to all destinations.
Is it advisable to cancel my summer holiday? Not yet if you have a package holiday booked for after the FCO 30-day ban on essential travel. Unless there is a specific FCO warning against travel to your destination you will have to pay cancellation, fees and won’t be able to claim on insurance.
If you have booked flights or a cruise for a later date some companies are taking a flexible approach and allowing customers to postpone your holiday without incurring charges.
Remember you will want and need a holiday when this is all over with. A lot of holidays were booked in the January peak sales, so these offers you had then will not be around later in the year to re-book, so if cancel you may lose out.
Is coronavirus covered by my insurance? You may be able to claim for any costs that won’t be refunded as a result of not being able to travel due to FCO advice from your insurer.
If you are travelling later in the year and haven’t taken out insurance yet please do so as soon as possible because a number of insurers have pulled out of the market. You will have to shop around and make sure the policy includes medical evacuation and repatriation cover in case you fall ill and have to be transported home.
I hope the above is helpful and if you are wanting more in-depth advice here are a couple of useful websites.
Please feel free to ring me 0203 441 6848, or you can email your questions and I will do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.
Take care & stay safe.