Holiday Booking Protection
It can be a little confusing when you are booking your holiday to know just exactly how you are protected or what is protected in the event of anything happening whilst you are traveling.
The easiest way to find out what protection and cover you have when booking your holiday or will have on your travels, is simply to ask the travel operator or agent, if you are protected and if so, how? Never be shy about asking this simple question because if they cannot offer you any protection, it is better to find out sooner rather than later after the event! Any Travel Company or Travel Agent that is registered with ABTA should be able to offer you advice as what to do if you are not automatically protected.
When Are You Automatically Protected
Package Holidays: Package holidays offer the best form of protection and if you are planning on booking a package holiday you will be covered for several things. When you book a package holiday, you will be covered if your Tour Company goes out of business and you will be entitled to a full refund and repatriation. Along with a refund and repatriation, you will also be entitled to legal protection in the event that problems arise with your holiday.
Flight-Plus: Flight-Plus is when you book a flight plus other extras such as accommodation and or car hire from one Travel Company but the company has not packaged them together. Although when you book a ‘Flight-Plus’, these are financially protected you do not receive the additional legal protection as you do with a Package holiday.
How You Are Protected And With Whom
ABTA Scheme: If you book a land or sea based holiday through a registered ABTA member, your holiday will be protected by ABTA. Land and sea based holidays include coach, train and cruise holidays and the ABTA scheme of financial protection is in place to protect you. This entitles you to a full refund should your Tour Company seize to trade and cannot fulfil its obligation. If you are abroad, you will receive accommodation and transport costs for your journey home.
ATOL Scheme: The ATOL scheme protects any air based holiday and is operated by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority). Basically, all package holidays that include a flight (including Flight-Plus) are covered by ATOL and when you book your travel arrangements, you should be issued with an ATOL certificate. The protection entitles you to full refund if the Tour Operator can no longer fulfil its obligation and hotel and transport cost for your journey home if you are abroad.
When You Are Not Protected
As mentioned earlier, you are not financially protected if you book a flight only directly with the airline.
Holidays sold by airlines are not automatically protected. Many airlines do offer financial protection but others do not. Check with the airline before you book as to what protection is available, if any.
If you make an ‘Accommodation Only’ booking, then you may not be automatically protected. It is not a legal requirement for Tour Operators or Travel Agents to offer you protection. However, some Tour Operators and Travel Agents do actually offer protection but it is solely down to their discretion as to whether they offer it. The best policy if you are unsure is to simply ask!
What To Do If Your Travel Is Not Protected
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but sadly many people book their holiday without realising what protection they have if any! Obviously, it is always best to ensure you have asked the Tour Operator or Travel Agent what protection you have before you book but as we have just said, this can easily be overlooked. If you find you have booked travel arrangements and are not covered, there are several ways that you may be protected.
Credit Cards: If you have booked your travel arrangements on a credit card, you may be financially protected. Many Credit Cards offer financial protection when you book your travel arrangements on them. You will need to check the Terms & Condition or contact the Credit Card provider to check whether you are covered and if so, to what extent. Many credit card companies protect you if the travel company goes bust or seizes trading and will refund your money but will not help you with the cost of your travel back home, if you are stuck abroad.
Supplier Failure Insurance: If you are not automatically protected when you book your travel arrangements, you may be able to purchase ‘supplier failure insurance’. This insurance policy will protect you if your Tour Operator or Travel Agent goes out of business. If you are unsure as to where to find ‘supplier failure insurance’ or which are the best companies to provide such cover, simply ask one of your ABTA registered Travel Agents or contact ABTA itself.
Will I be Covered On My Travel Insurance
All travel insurance policies are different and many do not actually cover you financially in the event of your Tour Operator or Travel Agent going out of business. Many people believe that their travel insurance does cover them for such events but they are wrong. Most travel insurance policy cover you for delays, cancellations and medical costs but you will have to double check to see whether or not your policy covers you for companies going out of business.
What You Need To Do When Booking Your holiday Arrangements To Ensure You Are Protected
Check that the Company, Tour Operator or Travel Agent is ABTA registered.
Ensure you keep all your receipts for the purchase of your holiday and travel arrangements.
Sounds silly but ensure that your booking has been completed and that your money has been debited to the correct company.
Ensure you have all the original copies of your travel documents and do not accept copies.
If your holiday or other travel arrangements are protected by ATOL, ensure you receive n ATOL certificate.
Having an understanding of holiday booking protection will provide you with a peace of mind and allow you to book in confidence.