Know about your holiday insurance and refund rights


Holidaymakers desperate to cancel trips abroad amid fears of snap travel bans and quarantine rules risk losing thousands of pounds because travel insurers will not pay out. 

The Foreign Office has this week warned against ‘all but essential travel’ to mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary islands, with returning travellers ordered to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive home. 

More countries, including Croatia, Belgium, France and Germany, could soon face curbs, with ministers claiming ‘no travel is risk-free during this pandemic’. 

Flying into trouble?: Holidaymakers desperate to cancel trips abroad amid fears of snap travel bans and quarantine rules risk losing thousands of pounds

Yet holidaymakers who can’t work from home in the event of the new quarantine rules face heavy losses if they try to cancel. 

Ministers have already acknowledged that some returning travellers from Spain may have to sign on for benefits if their employers won’t pay them while they self-isolate. Here Money Mail answers your most pressing questions about travelling abroad this summer…

Can I get insurance? 

Only a handful of travel insurers will pay coronavirus-related claims. 

Abta, British Airways, Cedar Tree, CoverForYou, Coverwise, Insurefor.com, Outbacker and Trailfinders cover the cost of cancellation if you catch the virus or need to self-isolate, medical treatment abroad and repatriation, according to the ratings site, Defaqto. 

Axa, Leisure Guard, the Post Office, Saga and Staysure will cover only your treatment abroad and the cost of returning home. 

If you bought an annual policy before March, you may also be covered for losses relating to coronavirus, but check the insurer has not since added an exclusion. 

There is no cover on offer for holidaymakers who may need to cancel a trip or return home early to avoid new quarantine rules. 

Brian Brown, head of insight at Defaqto, says: ‘No travel insurer will cover you cancelling your holiday because your employer refuses you time off to quarantine.’ 

If you were in Spain when the new travel ban was introduced, you should still be protected — but not if you stay longer than planned. And no travel insurer will pay claims — coronavirus-related or not — if you travel against Foreign Office advice. 

Will I get a refund? 

If your flight is cancelled, the airline should refund you within seven days under EU law. However, many airlines are encouraging passengers to accept vouchers or rearrange their trip for later in the year — though you may be charged extra if flights are more expensive. Many of those who have demanded a refund are still waiting. 

Later this week, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expected to name and shame airlines who have been slow to refund. 

It is crucial you wait for airlines and tour operators to call off the holiday. If you cancel, you may not be refunded. 

Package holiday customers must be reimbursed within 14 days under the Package Travel Regulations, although this is also regularly taking longer. 

If you accept a refund credit note, this is guaranteed by the government should the operator go bust — but vouchers are not covered. 

If you booked a holiday through a third-party booking site such as Lastminute.com, the online agent is responsible for refunding you — however, if you just booked a flight through a third party, you can claim a refund direct from the airline. Some online agents charge an administration fee.

What do airlines say? 

Jet2 has cancelled all flights to mainland Spain and the islands. 

Ryanair customers who do not want to fly to Spain may have to pay a flight change fee, plus fare difference, to move their trip. 

British Airways says customers who choose not to board a flight can claim a voucher for future travel. This applies to bookings made after March 3 for trips scheduled to take place before April 30 next year. 

If your flight is cancelled, you can have a voucher or cash refund. EasyJet says that it plans to operate its full schedule to Spain. If you no longer wish to travel you can transfer your flight without paying the usual fee, or request a voucher. 

Tui UK has cancelled all holidays to the Balearic and Canary Islands until July 31. Trips to mainland Spain will not go ahead before August 9. 

Those whose holidays have been cancelled can request a refund or rearrange the holiday.

Can my bank help me? 

If your flight or holiday cost more than £100 on your credit card you have protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, and may be able to claim a refund from your bank or card provider. 

However, if your flight or accommodation is not cancelled, you may not have a claim as your holiday could still go ahead. 

If you paid by debit card you can make a chargeback request. There is no minimum spend. But if the trip is not cancelled, it’s unlikely the claim would be accepted. 

Are there any work risks?

Danielle Parsons, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, says: ‘Those who suddenly have to quarantine are in a very weak legal position, as their bosses don’t have to give them time off if they are unable to work from home.’ 

You can ask your employer for extra annual or unpaid leave, but they are not obliged to agree. If you lose your income you may be eligible for Universal Credit but not statutory sick pay.

Where can I complain? 

If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, make a formal complaint to the airline. Your next step is to contact an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service, if your airline is a member. 

Aviation ADR (aviationadr.org. uk) covers easyJet, Tui, Virgin Atlantic, Wizz Air, among others. 

Take British Airways complaints to CEDR (cedr.com). You must pay £25 but only if your claim fails. 

Ryanair and Jet2 do not belong to an ADR scheme. You can take complaints to the CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team, but decisions are not binding. 

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

What does Spain being added to the UK’s quarantine list mean for travellers?


Thousands of Britons have had travel plans scuppered after the Government announced holidaymakers going to Spain – or are currently there – must quarantine for 14 days on their return.

It’s another blow for the beleaguered travel industry, with many booking last minute sunshine trips to Spain or simply going ahead with summer holidays that were planned before the coronavirus pandemic. 

There are questions over what it means for holidaymakers and their money. Can you claim on insurance, Section 75 of your credit card or cancel with your airline and hotel directly? 

Outbreak: Holidaymakers going to Spain now have to quarantine for 14 days on their return

Can employers stop you from going or withhold pay and what does it do for the confidence of those planning trips to countries that have had quarantine restrictions removed in recent weeks?

To help travellers understand their rights, we has put together a list of questions and answers for those heading to or from Spain need to know.

What’s going on? 

The decision was announced on Sunday after the Government said there has been a ‘significant change’ over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Spain.

Since then, the advice has been extended to include the Balearics and Canary Islands, despite the areas initially being exempt from the quarantine rules.

This has left a large number of travellers having to isolate on their return with thousands of other holidaymakers unsure whether to cancel their holiday or not. 

There have been talks about the quarantine being reduced to 10 days, but it is not clear if that will happen or not, with the situation changing at pace all the time.

Crucially, on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises British nationals against ‘all but essential international travel,’ to Spain.

It says: ‘This advice is being kept under constant review… national control measures may be brought in with little notice.’

I have a trip booked soon to Spain, will I get a refund?

If you booked a package holiday which is cancelled by the provider, you are entitled to a refund and it should be returned within 14 days.

However, many are not yet cancelling, just as airlines are not yet cancelling flights. By law, if you booked with an airline directly, you should receive a refund from them within seven days – if it cancels your flights.

The first port of call should be to contact your travel company or airline directly. Some might be offering the option to rebook or to accept a voucher for the value of your booking.  

However, as we have seen in the past few months, lines will be busy and many firms have been slow to refund even when they have cancelled trips or flights. 

Which package firms are cancelling and what will I get if they do?

It is essential to check about your particular booking with the firm, with all currently having different approaches to the latest crisis. 

For instance, Jet2 and Tui have cancelled trips up to certain dates in August. This means you should get a refund or, if you should want to, a voucher or the option to rebook.

And Kuoni, even though it is not cancelling trips, is offering refunds or rebookings at a later date. Again, you should check with the firm you have booked with.  

Jet2 has cancelled trips to Spain up to certain dates in August in response to the outbreak

Jet2 has cancelled trips to Spain up to certain dates in August in response to the outbreak

Which airlines are cancelling and what will I get if they do?

You must check your particular flight. None of BA, easyJet or Ryanair are cancelling at the moment – but the situation is fast moving. 

In the case of BA and easyJet it seems that they are offering a voucher for the value of certain bookings, or the option to rebook. 

No other airlines have signalled that they are cancelling or offering flexibility yet.

Will I be able to cancel a direct hotel booking because of this?

If you have booked directly with a hotel it is unlikely that they will let you cancel without abiding by their cancellation charges. 

You could try appealing to their goodwill and there is certainly no harm in asking. They may for instance let you move to a later date.

If you have booked through a third-party website like Booking.com, Expedia or Lastminute, you may find that the cancellation terms are more generous, depending on what sort of reservation you made. 

What if my trip isn’t cancelled but I want to cancel it?

If your trip isn’t cancelled, contact your travel provider in the first instance to see if they are offering refunds, or again, a change of date.

If they are not, you may have to swallow the cost of cancelling your holiday and then fighting to get a refund through your insurance, credit card provider through Section 75 or a chargeback, offered by some banks. 

While most tour providers still haven’t shown their hand, it is thought likely most will cancel holidays given the Government advice. 

If your trip isn't cancelled, contact your travel provider to see if they are offering refunds

If your trip isn’t cancelled, contact your travel provider to see if they are offering refunds

Can I claim on my travel insurance?

If you can’t get a refund, your travel insurance might pay out – although  most will not.

It is likely travellers will fall into two camps here. Those who booked before the pandemic who should have bought cover as soon as the trip was booked.

Then there are those who might have booked as a last minute ‘gamble.’ Some may have an annual policy that covers this type of cancellation, but finding cover with cancellation cover since the pandemic unfolded has been all but impossible.  

You will need to check your insurance policy wording to see if you are able to make a successful claim. 

I have a booking to Spain in the next few days or weeks: what happens if I go?

If you travel to Spain against FCO advice, your travel insurance will be invalid and you will have no cover for anything, including medical claims.

This is obviously quite risky, especially if you end up needing any sort of medical attention, so it would be generally advised to try and re-arrange or cancel your trip.

This is why it is important to contact the airline, hotel and/or tour operator to cancel.  

What will happen when I get back?

If you’re returning to the UK from Spain you will need to provide your journey and contact details and self-isolate for 14 days. This may drop to 10 days soon.  

You may be fined up to £100 if you refuse to provide your contact details or more if you break this rule more than once.

You may also be fined up to £1,000 if you refuse to self-isolate, or you could face further action.  

Will my employer pay me if I have to quarantine?

This will depend on your employer and their rules. If, for example, you can still work from home, there should – in theory – be no problem with you quarantining.

However, you are not automatically entitled to statutory sick pay from your employer if you have to quarantine after coming back off holiday, according to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

Some employers will offer sick pay – either statutory or a higher level, depending on their policy.

It could be that if your employer is unable to offer you sick pay, you could take annual leave to avoid missing out on any payment, although this may not be possible if you do not have enough left to take.

However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said no worker following quarantine guidance should be penalised by employers, including by being put on to sick pay. 

Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Danielle Parsons said: ‘Those returning from Spain, who have suddenly discovered they have to quarantine are in a very weak legal position as their bosses don’t have to give them time off if they are unable to work from home.

‘If you’re able to explain this to your employer they could offer you the chance to take annual leave or unpaid leave.

‘However if this leads to a dispute the employee only has a claim to unfair dismissal if they have been with the employer for two or more years. 

‘Those who are self-employed will potentially have no recourse with income protection needing a longer period of time to kick in.’ 

If you travel to Spain on holiday against FCO advice, your travel insurance will be invalid

If you travel to Spain on holiday against FCO advice, your travel insurance will be invalid

What if I have a trip booked to Spain? Should I sit tight or ask to cancel now?

The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to Spain, therefore, it would be wise to contact your travel provider urgently. 

Although many flights still haven’t been cancelled, it is likely – given the FCO advice – that they will be soon. But you should check the latest with the firms directly. 

People currently on holiday in Spain have been encouraged to follow local rules, return home as normal and check the FCO’s travel advice for further information.

I am thinking of booking a trip: should I go ahead?

The FCO continues to advise against non-essential international travel except to the countries and territories on its exemption list.

There is much uncertainty about what will happen in the future and people going on holiday may be asked to self-isolate on their return .

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said anyone making travel arrangements needs to recognise the restrictions that may be placed upon them by the Government on their return to the UK.

As seen with Spain, the advice can change quickly.  

Can I cancel and get a refund if I booked with credit card? 

If you paid by credit card, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act covers transactions costing between £100 and £30,000 – where at least part of the purchase was made using your credit card.

If your airline, hotel or tour operator will not play ball, you might need to go down this route.  

If you paid on a debit card – and also credit card – you can also potentially issue a  chargeback via your bank

This gives customers a chance of getting your money back from your bank if you bought faulty goods, a service wasn’t provided, or the company you bought something from went bust and your goods weren’t delivered.

Under the chargeback process – which is part of Amex, Mastercard and Visa rules – your bank is asking for money back from the airline or holiday firm’s bank.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Cheaper travel insurance: How to get the best holiday cover


Currently, the Government is advising against all but non-essential travel abroad while the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop. 

What’s not yet clear is how the disease will affect the availability of travel insurance once the restrictions eventually begin to lift.

Most major providers pulled their travel insurance products in the wake of the virus, and most of those that didn’t began to introduce coronavirus exemptions.

This means that travel insurance options are currently severely limited, and are likely to remain so for some time.

It also means that if you do take out cover you’re unlikely to be insured against coronavirus.

The advice below will remain relevant once restrictions are eased and insurers begin to offer travel insurance again. In the meantime, This is Money will regularly update this guide as the situation develops and insurers begin to bring deals back to the market. 

Travel insurance: We guide you through how to get the cheapest cover

Funding the best travel insurance means combining the lowest price with top cover. Here’s what you need to know and how to compare prices.

Don’t take travel insurance with an airline or holiday company – you can get the same level of cover for a fraction of the price elsewhere. 

ESSENTIAL READING

Each year holidays are ruined by illness or robbery or even the sudden need to return home because someone else is ill.

There’s no legal requirement for you to have insurance when you travel abroad but if you find yourself in a situation like that you’ll bless the day you took a policy out.

The quick way and easy to save on travel insurance 

For a quick money-saver on travel insurance, you should use a comparison site.

If you’ve not done this before, it could save you hundreds of pounds on a renewal quote. 

This is a simple and easy way to compare prices and while results will broadly be the same across most comparison sites, they may slightly differ, so it is worth checking a couple.

This is Money has partnered with Compare the Market to help you find great travel insurance.

Some insurers don’t appear on comparison sites and are worth checking directly. The main two are Direct Line and Aviva.  

And with competition within the industry growing fiercer, prices have tumbled. But the cheapest is not necessarily the best, you will need to pay more if you want decent levels of cover.

Check very carefully what is included, from lost baggage, to missed flights, illness and winter sports.

Also check the the levels of cover. You need to make sure the insurer will pay out enough to cover the costs of something going wrong.

Finally, the excess matters. Are you happy with the amount quoted, if not check other deals. 

Choosing your cover

Buying cover from your travel agent is the easiest way to get travel insurance but will probably also be the most expensive. Some travel companies offer ‘free’ cover but it’s unlikely that the insurance really is free, as the cost is generally built into the price of the holiday.

Remember that commission on selling insurance is a huge – although declining – earner for travel agents. 

You can usually get a better deal via an insurance broker or aggregation website, of which there are now dozens.  

Unscrupulous travel agents may try to say the insurance you do have is not good enough in a bid to persuade you to pay for their own cover. Resist their pressure and stick to your existing policy – or go to a different agent.

It often pays to sort out your insurance in advance, so that you can give the travel agent the name of your insurer when you come to book. Often the agent will ask you to sign a form declaring that you were offered, but decided to turn down, the company’s travel insurance package.  

Getting value for money

If you go abroad more than a couple of times a year it’s worth taking out an annual policy. They represent much better value than buying cover as you go along.

When you buy travel insurance find out what the excess is and whether it applies as one amount per claim or for each part of a claim. Check the limit on individual items. You may need higher limits if you are taking expensive jewellery, for example.

Check first whether personal possessions are covered under your home contents policy. It may automatically include cover for some items away from home. Ask for a discount on premiums if you don’t require possessions cover.

Sports

Make sure you are covered for any unusual sporting activities you are planning, such as whitewater rafting or bungee jumping.

If you are going skiing or taking part in other winter sports you will usually be asked to pay extra as these activities generate more claims than a beach holiday in Spain or a city break in Germany.  

Delays

Don’t expect a big payout if air traffic controllers go on strike and you spend a good portion of your holiday lying around at Heathrow reading magazines. This is an excluded condition more often than not. 

If you are worried about this being a possibility, double check your policy wordings. 

Illness abroad

Generally you will be covered for medical problems occurring abroad unless you are travelling specifically to get treatment or travelling against medical advice. However some companies ask you if you have had any medical problems and then ask you to contact them before cover can be finalised.

Older people lose out as they are often asked to pay more – the insurers argue that they are more likely to make a claim.   

Taking extra precautions

When you book your holiday it’s worth paying at least the deposit with a credit card. This gives protection for the whole cost of the holiday, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, as long as the payment exceeds £100.

The rule is that the card company is equally liable with the supplier – the tour operator in this case – for providing a refund if the goods or services are not satisfactory.

If you book a package holiday through a member of the Association of British Travel Agents you will get your money back if the tour operator goes bust.

If you are putting your own holiday together make sure you book accommodation with an ABTA travel agent and flights with a provider which holds an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence – if either go bust your money will be refunded. 

And finally…

It’s important that you read the small print of your travel insurance policy carefully. Make sure you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

There are exceptions and limits in every policy and claiming you didn’t know of them when you took the cover out will not make an iota of difference if you’re caught out

THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST HOLIDAY MONEY DEALS

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Winter flights to long haul destinations are down by 55%


Holidaymakers can save as much as 55 per cent on winter trips to long haul destinations, new data shows.

With many Britons dreaming of exotic, sunnier climes, return flights to locations such as Barbados, the Maldives and Thailand have plummeted by hundreds of pounds compared to last year, according to data from Skyscanner.

However, those who are keen to book should be warned that prices are lower due to the continuing uncertainty around travelling due to the coronavirus.

A drop in demand over worries where the pandemic is heading means that airlines are having to slash fares to entice holidaymakers.

Travellers can save hundreds of pounds on holidays to exotic locations such as Barbados

Currently, most will find it hard to obtain travel insurance to cover their trip, leaving them unprotected, and flights are still being regularly cancelled as the situation remains unpredictable.

Despite this, bookings for international travel from Britain have increased by 85 per cent over the past month, indicating more people are ready to head abroad as restrictions ease.

Stella Penso, senior director of pricing at Skyscanner, said: ‘Many travellers are taking advantage of attractive pricing for breaks in the next few months, with summer trips to Europe featuring heavily in our searches and booking data for the near future.

‘What many people don’t realise is that these savings are also applicable to long-haul winter breaks, with proportionally similar – or sometimes larger – savings on more expensive tickets with some flights up to 55 per cent cheaper than average this year.

‘With many long-haul tourist destinations relying on travellers for their income, we expect to see similar offers and deals from travel and holiday providers across the sector as they focus on boosting local tourist economies.’

This is Money, with the help of Skyscanner, reveals the long haul destinations with the top savings.

To find the best value destinations, Skyscanner compared the average price of return flights to destinations in economy class from UK airports from December 2018 and December 2019 to  the same locations on 21 July 2020.

If you are tempted to book, ensure you have checked the four essential things to know if you are thinking about the plunge at the bottom of the article. 

Best long haul destinations for winter savings

1. Barbados

Average December price: £943

Current available price for December: £424

Saving: 55%

Average temperature for December: 26C 

What to do: Barbados is known as one of the prettiest Caribbean islands with tons of beaches to choose from. 

There are a number of caves to explore including Harrison’s Cave and the Animal Flower Cave and lovers of rum can also go rum tasting as the island is known for its collection. 

Travellers can head to Langkawi in Malaysia for £554 return - a saving of 37% from last year

Travellers can head to Langkawi in Malaysia for £554 return – a saving of 37% from last year

2. Langkawi, Malaysia

Average December price: £873

Current available price for December: £554

Saving: 37%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: Langkawi is also home to a number of stunning beaches. 

The Langkawi Cable Car is one of the major attractions as it provides an aerial link to the peak of Gunung Machinchang, which is also the location of the Langkawi Sky Bridge, a bridge deck located 660 metres above sea level. 

3. Phuket, Thailand

Average December price: £728

Current available price for December: £480

Saving: 34%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: Phuket is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand for tourists. 

Known for its lively bars and restaurants as well as its numerous beaches, holidaymakers can also take boat tours around the coastline. 

Holidaymakers can head to Costa Rica for just £453 in December this year - a saving of 25%

Holidaymakers can head to Costa Rica for just £453 in December this year – a saving of 25%

4. Costa Rica, Central America

Average December price: £603

Current available price for December: £453

Saving: 25%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: There is so much to explore in Costa Rica, known for its exotic, rainforest location. 

There are a number of volcanoes to visit in the area as well as take a trip to Corcovado National Park where visitors can see an abundance of wildlife. 

5. Maldives

Average December price: £923

Current available price for December: £732

Saving: 21%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: The Maldives is famous for its picturesque, sandy beaches with a number of resorts found in the region. 

Travellers can take part in a number of watersports including jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding and water skiing.  

Travellers can make a saving of 21% on a holiday to the Maldives when compared to last year

Travellers can make a saving of 21% on a holiday to the Maldives when compared to last year

Cheap flights to Brazil

It is not just Skyscanner that are offering a range of dramatically reduced price flights. 

Jack’s Flight Club has compiled a list of some of the best offers available at the moment to destinations around the world. 

Some of the best deals are to cities in Brazil including Foz do Iguaçu which holidaymakers can get a return flight to from London Heathrow for just £506 in November, December, February or early May. 

Usually this fare would be £800 and above – showing a huge saving for customers looking to explore South America. 

Similarly, travellers can fly to other Brazilian cities Porto Alegre and Florianopolis for the same amount in the same time frame. 

Other Brazilian destinations including Goiania, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte can also be reached for £506, £505 and £506, respectively.  

What you should consider before travelling

With the international travel situation continuously evolving and restrictions still in place for some popular long-haul destinations, there are a number of things travellers should be aware of before booking flights.  

Holidaymakers should keep an eye on the latest government advice and be aware of airlines’ cancellation policies, as there may be changes to the rules in the coming weeks and months.

Before booking an abroad holiday, it is worth taking into consideration the below options and deciding whether it is worth the risk or not.  

1. Insurance: The majority of providers removed themselves from the market in March, to review their stance and redevelop their policies. 

While those who had already bought insurance could still keep hold of their policies, it was closed to new customers.

Now there are a number of insurers who have started to sell policies to new customers again but this doesn’t mean they will cover everything you need. 

Some have added coronavirus cover but this will only protect you if you are in a country deemed safe by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

Most that have this cover will ensure your medical costs and repatriation if you become ill.

However, most will not cover customers for cancellation, which is one of the main issues with booking currently as many flights are still being chopped everyday. 

If you have an existing policy – namely an annual policy, or one with a bank account – check before taking the plunge what you are covered for.  

Many flights are still being cancelled regularly as the coronavirus uncertainty continues

Many flights are still being cancelled regularly as the coronavirus uncertainty continues

2. Refunds: Although airlines legally have to refund customers for any flights they cancel, as many will have discovered, they have been taking months and months before doing so. 

Therefore, if travellers book a flight now and it gets cancelled, there is no guarantee of when exactly they can expect their money back. 

Many are being offered vouchers instead but this is not a suitable option for all as they are unsure when they will be able to travel again. 

3. Protection from travel agents: Many customers will have booked travel arrangements through a travel agent. 

Your travel agent will have made your booking with a company such as a tour operator or airline, and this is who you have a contract with and who any refund will be due back from.

Your travel agent will pass on any refund they receive from these companies as soon as they receive it, according to travel body, ABTA.  

It is worth ensuring your holiday is ABTA protected which means that if your travel company goes out of business, you will be entitled to a refund which includes hotel costs. 

Having ATOL protection is also important for those going on a package holiday as it means if the company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead, you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel, and hotel costs and flights home if you are abroad.

4. Cancellation: Can you book accommodation that is free to cancel relatively last minute? That could be crucial. 

It is also worth considering booking with a credit card for Section 75 protection and finding out from the airline how long it would take to issue a refund, if a flight is cancelled.  

THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST HOLIDAY MONEY DEALS

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Winter flights to long haul destinations are down by 55%


Holidaymakers can save as much as 55 per cent on winter trips to long haul destinations, new data shows.

With many Britons dreaming of exotic, sunnier climes, return flights to locations such as Barbados, the Maldives and Thailand have plummeted by hundreds of pounds compared to last year, according to data from Skyscanner.

However, those who are keen to book should be warned that prices are lower due to the continuing uncertainty around travelling due to the coronavirus.

A drop in demand over worries where the pandemic is heading means that airlines are having to slash fares to entice holidaymakers.

Travellers can save hundreds of pounds on holidays to exotic locations such as Barbados

Currently, most will find it hard to obtain travel insurance to cover their trip, leaving them unprotected, and flights are still being regularly cancelled as the situation remains unpredictable.

Despite this, bookings for international travel from Britain have increased by 85 per cent over the past month, indicating more people are ready to head abroad as restrictions ease.

Stella Penso, senior director of pricing at Skyscanner, said: ‘Many travellers are taking advantage of attractive pricing for breaks in the next few months, with summer trips to Europe featuring heavily in our searches and booking data for the near future.

‘What many people don’t realise is that these savings are also applicable to long-haul winter breaks, with proportionally similar – or sometimes larger – savings on more expensive tickets with some flights up to 55 per cent cheaper than average this year.

‘With many long-haul tourist destinations relying on travellers for their income, we expect to see similar offers and deals from travel and holiday providers across the sector as they focus on boosting local tourist economies.’

This is Money, with the help of Skyscanner, reveals the long haul destinations with the top savings.

To find the best value destinations, Skyscanner compared the average price of return flights to destinations in economy class from UK airports from December 2018 and December 2019 to  the same locations on 21 July 2020.

If you are tempted to book, ensure you have checked the four essential things to know if you are thinking about the plunge at the bottom of the article. 

Best long haul destinations for winter savings

1. Barbados

Average December price: £943

Current available price for December: £424

Saving: 55%

Average temperature for December: 26C 

What to do: Barbados is known as one of the prettiest Caribbean islands with tons of beaches to choose from. 

There are a number of caves to explore including Harrison’s Cave and the Animal Flower Cave and lovers of rum can also go rum tasting as the island is known for its collection. 

Travellers can head to Langkawi in Malaysia for £554 return - a saving of 37% from last year

Travellers can head to Langkawi in Malaysia for £554 return – a saving of 37% from last year

2. Langkawi, Malaysia

Average December price: £873

Current available price for December: £554

Saving: 37%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: Langkawi is also home to a number of stunning beaches. 

The Langkawi Cable Car is one of the major attractions as it provides an aerial link to the peak of Gunung Machinchang, which is also the location of the Langkawi Sky Bridge, a bridge deck located 660 metres above sea level. 

3. Phuket, Thailand

Average December price: £728

Current available price for December: £480

Saving: 34%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: Phuket is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand for tourists. 

Known for its lively bars and restaurants as well as its numerous beaches, holidaymakers can also take boat tours around the coastline. 

Holidaymakers can head to Costa Rica for just £453 in December this year - a saving of 25%

Holidaymakers can head to Costa Rica for just £453 in December this year – a saving of 25%

4. Costa Rica, Central America

Average December price: £603

Current available price for December: £453

Saving: 25%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: There is so much to explore in Costa Rica, known for its exotic, rainforest location. 

There are a number of volcanoes to visit in the area as well as take a trip to Corcovado National Park where visitors can see an abundance of wildlife. 

5. Maldives

Average December price: £923

Current available price for December: £732

Saving: 21%

Average temperature for December: 27C

What to do: The Maldives is famous for its picturesque, sandy beaches with a number of resorts found in the region. 

Travellers can take part in a number of watersports including jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding and water skiing.  

Travellers can make a saving of 21% on a holiday to the Maldives when compared to last year

Travellers can make a saving of 21% on a holiday to the Maldives when compared to last year

Cheap flights to Brazil

It is not just Skyscanner that are offering a range of dramatically reduced price flights. 

Jack’s Flight Club has compiled a list of some of the best offers available at the moment to destinations around the world. 

Some of the best deals are to cities in Brazil including Foz do Iguaçu which holidaymakers can get a return flight to from London Heathrow for just £506 in November, December, February or early May. 

Usually this fare would be £800 and above – showing a huge saving for customers looking to explore South America. 

Similarly, travellers can fly to other Brazilian cities Porto Alegre and Florianopolis for the same amount in the same time frame. 

Other Brazilian destinations including Goiania, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte can also be reached for £506, £505 and £506, respectively.  

What you should consider before travelling

With the international travel situation continuously evolving and restrictions still in place for some popular long-haul destinations, there are a number of things travellers should be aware of before booking flights.  

Holidaymakers should keep an eye on the latest government advice and be aware of airlines’ cancellation policies, as there may be changes to the rules in the coming weeks and months.

Before booking an abroad holiday, it is worth taking into consideration the below options and deciding whether it is worth the risk or not.  

1. Insurance: The majority of providers removed themselves from the market in March, to review their stance and redevelop their policies. 

While those who had already bought insurance could still keep hold of their policies, it was closed to new customers.

Now there are a number of insurers who have started to sell policies to new customers again but this doesn’t mean they will cover everything you need. 

Some have added coronavirus cover but this will only protect you if you are in a country deemed safe by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

Most that have this cover will ensure your medical costs and repatriation if you become ill.

However, most will not cover customers for cancellation, which is one of the main issues with booking currently as many flights are still being chopped everyday. 

If you have an existing policy – namely an annual policy, or one with a bank account – check before taking the plunge what you are covered for.  

Many flights are still being cancelled regularly as the coronavirus uncertainty continues

Many flights are still being cancelled regularly as the coronavirus uncertainty continues

2. Refunds: Although airlines legally have to refund customers for any flights they cancel, as many will have discovered, they have been taking months and months before doing so. 

Therefore, if travellers book a flight now and it gets cancelled, there is no guarantee of when exactly they can expect their money back. 

Many are being offered vouchers instead but this is not a suitable option for all as they are unsure when they will be able to travel again. 

3. Protection from travel agents: Many customers will have booked travel arrangements through a travel agent. 

Your travel agent will have made your booking with a company such as a tour operator or airline, and this is who you have a contract with and who any refund will be due back from.

Your travel agent will pass on any refund they receive from these companies as soon as they receive it, according to travel body, ABTA.  

It is worth ensuring your holiday is ABTA protected which means that if your travel company goes out of business, you will be entitled to a refund which includes hotel costs. 

Having ATOL protection is also important for those going on a package holiday as it means if the company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead, you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel, and hotel costs and flights home if you are abroad.

4. Cancellation: Can you book accommodation that is free to cancel relatively last minute? That could be crucial. 

It is also worth considering booking with a credit card for Section 75 protection and finding out from the airline how long it would take to issue a refund, if a flight is cancelled.  

THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST HOLIDAY MONEY DEALS

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ABTA launches travel insurance with coronavirus clauses


ABTA launches travel insurance for those tempted to book a summer holiday: Is it any good and what else is on offer?

  • New deal offers up to £5m cover for coronavirus bills while abroad
  • It also joins the few deals offering cancellation cover if you fall ill with the virus
  • Cover only applies in countries that have been pre-approved by government 

Holidaymakers worried about catching coronavirus have a new option with a deal that pays your medical expenses if you catch the virus abroad.

Travel insurers have begun to tentatively reintroduce policies after pulling most deals in the outbreak of the pandemic.

Today, the Association of British Travel Agents has launched a new policy designed to cater to holidaymakers who are worried about contracting the disease while overseas.

ABTA’s new ‘Travel Sure’ is underwritten by Axa and provides up to £5million cover for those heading to countries that the Government says are exempt from its ‘all but essential travel’ list.

 Insurers have begun to tentatively reintroduce policies after pulling most from the shelves

These countries currently include most of Europe and large parts of South East Asia, but doesn’t include for example the US. A full list of exempt counties can be found here.

Crucially, this insurance will pay your medical bills if you fall ill with coronavirus in any of these countries and need to seek medical treatment before you can come home. They will also pay any costs associated with getting you home.

The cover also includes as standard cover for things like cruises, terrorism, airline failures and gadget cover – things that most insurance policies would make you pay extra for. 

Unlike some policies there’s also no upper age limit, meaning older holidaymakers can also apply. 

There’s also a ‘gold’ and a ‘platinum’ package, which offer higher levels of cover for a higher premium.

The move from ABTA, which is most associated by consumers as offering protection in the event of a travel firm going bust, comes as it looks to help the industry recover from the devastating blow coronavirus has had.  

Ian Hall, head of travel insurance at ABTA said: ‘In these circumstances we know that insurance has an important role to play in giving people confidence to book now travel is restarting, and ABTA Travel Sure will appeal to people who require cover for coronavirus medical expenses whilst on holiday.’

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Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, said: ‘You must remember that most insurers won’t cover you if, having booked your holiday, you can’t travel due to either catching coronavirus or being told to quarantine by the Government track and trace team.’

Defaqto's consumer expert Brian Brown

Defaqto’s consumer expert Brian Brown

Previously just Coverwise, Southdowns, Cedertree, British Airways and Cover for You offered this service. 

These represent only a miniscule proportion of the providers in the market – just 6 out of 162, or 4 per cent of the whole market.

Travel Sure will now also protect against cancelling or cutting a trip short for up to £2,000. 

If you plan to travel, its worth bearing in mind that many airlines and holiday providers are offering flexible booking policies which allow you to move holidays and flights to different dates without a change fee. 

Brown added: ‘You should try to book travel and accommodation that is cancellable with a full refund before your date of travel. 

‘If you are determined to go abroad this summer then you should be prepared to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday, and make sure that the insurer will definitely cover you for both cancellation and medical treatment arising from coronavirus.’

>> For This is Money’s full guide to travelling during the pandemic, click here



I’m tempted to book a holiday: Can I get insurance?


Britain has begun to ease lockdown meaning we could finally be able to head abroad again, to certain destinations, for the first time in months.

While some will be excited to potentially get away, a vast number will be cautious about stepping foot in a foreign country, especially with the mass confusion about what is and isn’t allowed.

There are now a number of countries British citizens can travel to without having to quarantine on arrival or upon return – but holidaymakers should still check a number of things before they commit to purchasing a trip.

To help travellers understand how risky it actually it is to book a holiday, This is Money – with help from Emma Coulthurst, from holiday price comparison site, TravelSupermarket – reveal the answer to your most common questions.

There are a number of things people need to consider before booking a holiday abroad

Are insurers currently selling travel insurance?

In March, a large number of providers removed themselves from the market, to review their stance and redevelop their policies. 

While those who had already bought insurance could still keep hold of their policies, it was closed to new customers.

However, now travel insurers are selling policies again. 

Currently, there are around 12 providers on TravelSupermarket’s platform and there are more policies going live every day. 

Check other comparison websites to see which is offering the best deal. 

It is vital to get insurance for trips, including to Europe, and not solely rely on a European Health Insurance Card – and do it as soon as you book.  

Will insurance cover me if I contract Covid while on holiday and need medical treatment?

This is likely to be one of the things on holidaymakers’ minds as to whether to book a holiday or not. 

Many providers cover ’emergency medical and repatriation’ for Covid-19 if you were to contract the virus on holiday. 

This means that you will be covered for medical treatment and be brought home, if needed, to have further medical treatment back in the UK.

If your policy was bought before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11 March or if you’ve renewed your annual policy since 11 March, then annual travel insurance should cover you for events relating to coronavirus as long as you would have been covered beforehand.

For any EU holidays this year, make sure your EHIC card is up to date and take it with you to access reciprocal free health care, but these cards will only be valid until the end of 2020.

Many holidaymakers will be hoping to head abroad soon but they will still need insurance

Many holidaymakers will be hoping to head abroad soon but they will still need insurance

Will I be able get my money back via my insurance policy if I contract the virus before going?

If you need to purchase insurance, there are some insurers who will cover you if you contract Covid and cannot travel. 

There are currently four providers who have confirmed that they will provide cover for this; Coverwise, Southdowns, Cedertree and Cover for You.

For a policy bought before 11 March, you should be able to claim for cancellation, even if it is an annual policy which you have renewed since then. 

If your travel insurance policy covers a pre-existing medical condition that makes you more vulnerable to Covid-19, you also may be able to claim.

It is also worth bearing in mind that many airlines and holiday providers are offering flexible booking policies which allow you to move holidays and flights to different dates without a change fee. 

There is often a timeframe within which you need to do this without incurring a fee. Each airline will have its own policy so be sure to understand the company’s terms and conditions before you go ahead and book a flight or holiday. 

Can I get cover to protect me in case my airline goes bust?

End supplier failure covers you if an airline folds. 

It isn’t normally included within a policy but needs to be requested as an add-on. 

Many providers exclude a pandemic from this cover and therefore airlines going bust at this time might not be covered.

If your airline was to go into administration, another option is to try and claim for a refund through your debit and credit card company via the voluntary chargeback scheme. 

If your flight cost you more than £100 and you paid for at least £1 of it on a credit card, you can claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act as the card provider is jointly liable with the airline for any goods or services not received.

If you need insurance, there are some insurers who will cover you if you contract Covid

If you need insurance, there are some insurers who will cover you if you contract Covid

What should you do if your trip is cancelled by the holiday provider or airline?

Your first port of call should be with the company you booked with whether that is your airline, tour operator or accommodation provider. 

If you are not getting confirmation from your travel provider of when it will pay your refund, check with your travel insurer to see if they will pay out. 

However, most are likely to refer you back to the travel provider or airline. Under EU law 261, you are entitled to a refund on any cancelled flight within seven days and this is set to continue once the UK has officially left the EU as this right is enshrined in UK law. 

Under the Package Travel Regulations, you are also entitled to a refund within 14 days of the package holiday being cancelled.

If your travel dates move and you rebook, your travel insurance provider should look to change your single trip policy to match the new dates without charging you an admin fee. 

The date of the rebooked trip needs to be within 12 months and the holiday needs to be like for like. If your trip is different or if there has been a change to your health, you may have to pay more.

Can I get a refund for a travel insurance policy, which I can no longer use as my holiday has been cancelled?

Zurich has recently announced it will be giving its customers full refunds if they have been unable to travel due to lockdown.  

Many other major travel insurers are offering pro-rata refunds to customers, whose holidays have been cancelled as long as you haven’t made any claim on the policy. 

However, you’ll need to request a refund to get one – and should only do this if you’re certain you no longer need the cover. 

If you think you might want to book a trip in the near future, consider carefully if it’s worth keeping your policy anyway as getting new travel insurance can be tricky at the moment.

If you booked your insurance within the last 14 days, then you’ve the right to cancel the policy under ‘cooling off’ rules – though firms can charge an administration fee. 

What should I bear in mind before booking?

Many tour operators have said they will not take travellers on a package holiday to a country where they will have to quarantine either on their arrival or their return, saying they will cancel holidays in this situation and you would then be legally entitled to a refund.

However, if you booked a flight separately and it wasn’t cancelled, you won’t be able to get your money back unless you have ‘cancel for any reason’ as part of your travel insurance.

You will need to move your flight to a future date, in the hope that the FCO advice will not be in place for your rebooked date. 

Luckily, many of the airlines are waiving change fees at the moment due to the uncertainty.

But be aware that, to qualify for a free change, you often need to do it a certain number of days beforehand. For example, in the case of easyJet, it is 14 days before. Many airlines are also offering vouchers if you can’t fly. 

Many tour operators won't fly to places where customers have to quarantine at either end

Many tour operators won’t fly to places where customers have to quarantine at either end

I’m worried about being quarantined while I’m away or getting stuck if there is an outbreak. Will I be covered? 

Talk to your travel company and airline and check your travel insurance documents carefully to see what you are entitled to. 

Every insurance policy is different, so check your individual policy’s travel delay section. 

Some providers will cover claims made for missed excursions, for example, when you have to quarantine or self-isolate on a standard policy. 

Sometimes you will need to take out a trip disruption cover extension, to get this covered.

What should you look for when buying your travel insurance? 

To save money but also ensure the right cover for your needs, compare and choose the policy which covers all of your requirements. 

A decent policy only costs a small amount more than the cheapest deals so buying the lowest price deal can be a false economy.

Higher levels of cover give greater peace of mind and usually have lower excess levels, if needing to make a claim. 

When comparing travel insurance products, it is recommended you get the following minimum levels of cover:

• £2million for medical expenses

• £1million personal liability

• £1500 cancellation – or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday

• £750 baggage – or enough to cover the cost of your baggage

• £250 for cash

• Policy excesses under £100

• Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours)

It is also recommended that your excess is no more than £100. It is worth enquiring how much it costs to waive the excess so that you don’t pay any excess at all to make a claim as sometimes it is just a few pounds extra.

If you follow these recommended cover levels and compare online, you’ll get the right cover for you at the best price, with the peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, you’ve got good quality cover.

Once you’ve found a policy that works for you, however boring it may seem, it is worth spending 15 minutes reading through the policy to help you understand how it works should anything go wrong while you are away.

What about Brexit?

The UK Government on Monday morning launched a campaign encouraging holidaymakers planning trips to Europe for 2021 to prepare for things to change in January, after the UK leaves the Brexit transition period.

This covers holidays to the 27 EU member states, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

EHIC cards will no longer be valid after 31 December, meaning travellers need to make doubly sure their insurance covers their medical needs, including pre-existing conditions. The EHIC card currently covers these, but not all insurance policies do.

Pet owners taking their animals on holiday should also contact vets four months before they travel, the Government said, while travellers should also watch out for the return of mobile phone roaming charges.  

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Insurer launches travel cover if you catch coronavirus before a trip


Insurance firm, insurefor.com, has become the first to offer protection to travelers who catch coronavirus prior to their holiday.

At a time when many Britons are preparing to head abroad for the first time in months, the new product promises to protect holidaymakers against Covid-19 related issues both pre-departure and whilst abroad.

This includes cover for consumers who have to cancel their holiday before they even depart due to testing positive for the virus, even if this is at the airport, and therefore cannot travel.

It also covers emergency medical care and repatriation should they contract the virus whilst travelling.

Insurer has become first to offer protection to those who catch the virus prior to their holiday

The policy will be welcome news for those who are planning to head abroad again now the UK is beginning to lift travel restrictions and create air bridges, allowing consumers to fly to a number of countries around the world.

However, it should be noted that the advice given by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) remains that people should still not travel unless it is an essential trip.  

What are you covered for? 

The first of its kind, the policy covers customers who have been hospitalised within 28 days of their holiday and those who are have not been allowed to board their flight as a result of a positive coronavirus test or raised temperature.

The policy can also be cancelled prior to the trip if the UK or a customer’s local area enters lockdown again within 14 days of purchase.

Whilst abroad, the insurer will cover consumers if they have checked in at their holiday accommodation but it then needs to close as a result of the coronavirus.

For those who catch the virus abroad, the policy will include medical cover and repatriation costs if a consumer needs to return home.

It will also cover customers for additional accommodation and travelling costs if they contract coronavirus whilst they are abroad.

A number of airlines are to resume flights to countries across the world as restrictions ease

A number of airlines are to resume flights to countries across the world as restrictions ease

What are you not covered for?

Consumers will not be covered, however, if they have come in contact with someone who has had coronavirus but have themselves not been diagnosed. 

If they are asked to self-isolate, then they would still not be covered under this policy. 

For those who are shielding or have been asked to stay inside by their doctor, they would also not be able to make a claim. 

Looking for insurance 

Anyone who is looking to head abroad in the coming weeks and months may find it difficult to find travel insurance. 

However, there are still some smaller firms who are selling policies to new customers. 

Use price comparison services to see what is available and ensure you read through your policy carefully before purchasing to see if it covers you for all eventualities. 

Keep an eye out as more insurers start to offer protection against Covid-19. 

> Compare travel insurance policies with our Compare the Market powered search 

Anyone who decides they don’t want to travel because they are worried will similarly not be covered as this is called disinclination to travel and insurers do not pay out for this. 

Travellers that manage to get overseas but are then turned away from the country due to having the virus or showing symptoms of having it would too not be covered.  

Antony Martin, Managing Director at insurefor.com, said: ‘We are excited to launch our new COVID-19 protection product.

‘There has been a great deal of confusion around travel insurance recently and the right policy to choose, and we noticed a gap in the market for a solid COVID-protection policy so we wanted to create a robust product which clearly states what is and isn’t included.

‘As the world is starting to open up for travel again, we feel it is really important to drive consumer confidence by offering pre-departure cover for the elements that are not covered under Package Travel Regulations as well as cover during their trips. 

‘Many people cannot wait to travel but must ensure they are protected in case of further unprecedented circumstances around COVID-19.’

What are other insurers doing? 

Most other major insurers are still not selling new policies to customers after postponing all sales in March although they say they are constantly reviewing the ever changing situation. 

This is making it difficult for consumers who have booked holidays in recent times to protect their trips.  

However, some insurers are beginning to change their policies to reflect the current situation with Saga and Staysure both offering travel cover against customers contracting coronavirus.

The two insurers, that specialise in covering the over-50s, say they will pay the medical expenses and repatriation fees for customers if they fall ill with the virus during a trip abroad, a major concern particularly for an age group most vulnerable to it.

A major restriction to this is that the companies will only do so if the customers are travelling to a country that has been deemed safe by the Government – which is currently none, as it has advised against all non-essential travel and it’s not clear when this will change. 

There is some indication, however, that more insurers will start to offer the same protection as Saga and Staysure in the coming weeks.  

Sally Jaques at GoCompare Travel Insurance, said: ‘In the coming weeks we’re being advised most insurers returning to the market will cover Covid-19 medical claims while abroad, providing there are no FCO restrictions at time of travel. 

‘Those booking holidays at the moment, and then needing to cancel due to Covid-19 prior to travel are unlikely to be covered, but those cancelling for unrelated reasons should still receive the benefits of having travel insurance in place.

‘For those auto-renewing annual cover, we are urging people not to accept the new premium without first comparing prices and cover elsewhere. It definitely isn’t the time to just accept what your insurer wants to charge you as they try to recoup losses from Covid-19 claims.’

Helen Chambers, head of travel insurance at MoneySuperMarket added: ‘A high number of providers will now cover your medical expenses or repatriation if you contract Covid on your trip, including all policies displayed on the MoneySuperMarket website. 

‘We actively removed any providers that could not cover this. An increasing number of providers, including Coverwise, Cover for you, Southdowns and Cedar Tree, will cover you for your cancellation if you have a positive test for Covid and can’t take your trip.

‘However, something we haven’t seen is providers offering cover for cancellation if an FCO ban on travel is put in place, and we know that this is something customers want.

‘One final point worth making is that although a lot of people will be looking to take out Scheduled Airline Failure to cover them if their airline goes bust, due to Covid being excluded from these claims, any airline going bust at this time will probably not be covered.

‘It is more important than ever that customers take the time to compare the cost of their travel insurance policy, and understand exactly what it covers them for. Read the Ts and Cs of your policy before you commit to a purchase to ensure you have the cover you need.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Beware the online crooks preying on your dream of a holiday


Beware the online crooks preying on your dream of a holiday: How to stay safe when booking a trip

  • Be wary of emails and adverts linked to websites promising bargain breaks
  • Differences in the website address page can indicate an offer is fraudulent 
  • Anyone awaiting a refund from a cancelled holiday should be wary too

Following the easing of travel restrictions, thousands of holidaymakers have wasted no time in booking a summer break. But people are being urged to be vigilant as criminals look to exploit their eagerness to get away.

Jesús Sanchez-Aguilera Garcia, of cybersecurity firm McAfee, says: ‘With the travel industry getting back into motion, online criminals are ready to prey on victims. Fraudsters are fully aware of holidaymakers’ desire for a great deal and will use it to their advantage.’

He adds: ‘It’s vital when booking your holiday to remain alert to the common tactics used by online criminals, despite the excitement.’

Too good to be true? Be wary of emails and adverts linked to websites promising bargain breaks

Above all, be wary of emails and adverts linked to websites promising bargain breaks. Figures from McAfee show almost a third of holiday bookings occur through such email promotions and pop-up adverts, and more than a quarter of people do not check the authenticity of a website before booking.

Scam websites may look like those of genuine travel companies, with images of luxury villas to lure people in, but their aim is to install malware, steal personal information and capture passwords.

Subtle differences in the website address page (URL) can indicate an offer is fraudulent. And any request to pay by bank transfer instead of recommended secure payment options should set off alarm bells.

Paul Davis, retail fraud director at Lloyds Bank, says: ‘When looking for a holiday online, make sure you book with a trusted company which is Abta or Atol protected. The Abta website helps ensure you are booking through genuine companies and trusted websites.’

John Paul Donnelly, founder of 5 Star Villa Holidays, says: ‘To check you are using a reputable provider, search for mentions of the company online, phone the company before you book, look at its social media pages to ensure it is an active company and read guest feedback.’

Cybercriminals are not only targeting those heading overseas. With many holidaymakers booking staycations this year, banking industry body UK Finance warns that fraudsters are advertising fake listings for caravans or motorhomes on auction sites. 

Prices are attractive, but buyers are often told they cannot view the vehicles due to lockdown restrictions. In reality, the vehicles do not exist.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, says: ‘Ensure you do your research before making a purchase – read reviews of the website or person you’re buying from and ask to see vehicles over a video call if you’re unable to see them first-hand.’

Even those not booking a holiday need to be cautious. Anyone awaiting a refund from a cancelled holiday should be wary of emails, calls or social media posts claiming to offer money back from airlines, travel providers or banks. Often these promise an instant refund if holidaymakers reveal bank details or pay an upfront ‘handling’ fee.

Those looking for travel cover are urged to keep an eye out for fake travel insurance websites that offer Covid-19 cover when many genuine policies no longer do.

Tom Bourlet, at travel firm The Stag Company, says: ‘Check the terms and conditions page, the ‘about us’ page and blog section. Most scam insurance websites are built as quickly as possible and have plenty of spelling mistakes and a lack of content.’

How to stay safe when booking a trip

● Be wary of pop-up adverts and websites advertising rock bottom holiday prices.

● Never click on attachments or links in social media or email offers of ‘cheap deals’ or discounted prices.

● Ensure any company unfamiliar to you is legitimate by researching it online and checking reviews.

● Check website address pages (URLs) for subtle misspellings or extra characters.

● Look for holiday companies that are members of professional bodies such as Abta, but keep an eye out for fake, blurred logos.

● If renting a property, search for the full address and find it on Google maps to confirm its location. Also check if the images and description match up.

● Always check terms and conditions of the booking first, including payment terms and cancellation fees.

● Where possible, pay with a credit card to benefit from Section 75 protection.

● When paying online, check that the website URL starts with https:// rather than http:// The ‘s’ indicates it is a secure connection. Also check for the padlock symbol in the website address bar.

● Use secure payment options recommended by online travel providers and do not accept requests to pay separately by bank transfer.

THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST HOLIDAY MONEY DEALS

How not to get burned this summer: Travel industry tries to cut losses


After months of closures and cancellations, holidays abroad are within reach. 

This week, holiday firms were bombarded with bookings from sunseeking Britons after the Government revealed it would open ‘air bridges’ to countries where the virus was contained.

But those who go abroad this summer may find they cannot get travel insurance for cancellations linked to coronavirus, or must pay more than three times the price for it.

Holiday firms are being bombarded with bookings from sunseeking Britons after the Government revealed it would open ‘air bridges’ to countries where the virus was contained

Here, Money Mail tells you all you need to know to protect yourself and your money abroad, and save your summer holiday…

Green means go 

A new traffic-light system, expected to be unveiled this week, will list countries as green, amber or red, depending on their coronavirus risk level. 

Holidaymakers can visit green or amber countries — likely to include Spain, Italy and France — without needing to quarantine for 14 days when they return.

There has been a rush to book last-minute trips as travel firms slash costs by up to 60 per cent.

Travel companies lost billions of pounds to the pandemic and are offering record low prices for this time of year to recoup bookings. 

Trips to popular destinations such as Spain have been offered for as little as £200 per person, when typically they cost at least £100 more.

Beware of high insurance costs 

Be warned, though. Travel rules could still change at any time — leaving your holiday plans in ruins. 

The travel insurance industry came under fire during lockdown for pulling cover and refusing to pay claims for anything related to coronavirus after it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

Travel companies lost billions of pounds to the pandemic and are offering record low prices

Travel companies lost billions of pounds to the pandemic and are offering record low prices

And there is still a risk you could miss out if you book a holiday now.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against non-essential overseas travel on March 17 and has still not changed this guidance.

As it stands, no insurer will pay out for a cancelled holiday if you book now and the advice doesn’t change.

You are also unlikely to be covered if you book a trip now, then cannot travel because you catch coronavirus or have to self-isolate. Only a handful of insurers have changed their policy wording to cover such scenarios.

But you can expect to pay more for the full cover. A policy from Trailfinders, which includes cover for coronavirus, would cost a couple in their 70s £138 for a week in Spain, whereas the cheapest standard policy found via GoCompare is £40.71 from Explorer Travel Insurance. 

However, it will not pay out if you have to cancel your trip because you catch Covid 19.

Brian Brown, of finance data firm Defaqto, says: ‘At present you should only book travel and accommodation that is cancellable with a full refund before your date of travel.

‘If you are determined to go abroad this summer, I suggest you identify exactly when and where you want to go and be ready to book it once the Government changes its advice against non-essential travel.

‘You should also be prepared to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday, and make sure the insurer will cover you for both cancellation and medical treatment arising from Covid-19.’

A few insurers have recently changed their policy wording to cover cancellations if you catch coronavirus or are told to self-isolate, including Trailfinders, Cedar Tree, Cover For You and Outbacker.

Trailfinders says it will now provide Covid-19 cover for cancellation prior to travel (including quarantine if exposed to the virus), for curtailment of a trip, overseas medical expenses and extra accommodation costs if a doctor orders you to quarantine while you’re on holiday.

The Post Office, Saga and Staysure will cover medical claims if you become ill with coronavirus abroad but not cancellations.

Holidaymakers can visit green or amber countries — likely to include Spain, Italy and France — without needing to quarantine for 14 days when they return

Holidaymakers can visit green or amber countries — likely to include Spain, Italy and France — without needing to quarantine for 14 days when they return

What can you do after arriving? 

Tight coronavirus rules could also severely restrict what you can get up to on holiday.

Travel expert Frank Brehany says: ‘Cheap holidays really shouldn’t be the motivator to book — you need to examine what limitations will be present when you arrive at your destination. 

‘Will you be able to go freely to the beach, mix with people, use the swimming pool without limits? Will there be limitations on movement in the resort or hotel?’

And he warns: ‘Holidaymakers should be alert to the fact that if a fresh outbreak of Covid occurs, they will be subject to local lockdown conditions, and this will not only affect their holiday but could trap them in their resort until that lockdown is eased.’

Currently, those travelling to Spain are not required to self-isolate when they get there but will be subjected to health checks.

Face masks are obligatory on public transport and in public spaces where it is not possible to keep 1.5 metres away from others.

UK arrivals to France are asked to self-isolate voluntarily for 14 days but those entering Italy will not have to quarantine unless they have been outside the UK in the 14 days before they arrive.

The Greek government has decided to extend a ban on direct flights arriving from Britain, pushing it back to July 15. More countries could follow suit. You can search the Government’s website to find out the rules of the destination you plan to travel to: gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Trips could be scrapped 

Tips to boost your cover… 

  • If you are going to Europe, check your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is up to date, to get medical care at the same cost as locals. Apply free at ehic.org.uk/Internet/ startApplication.do
  • If you renewed an annual travel insurance policy before March, you should still be covered for Covid-related claims.
  • Always declare any medical conditions you have, or a claim could be dismissed.
  • Some premium bank accounts come with travel insurance, so you may already be covered against coronavirus. Nationwide offers cover with its FlexPlus and FlexAccount. If you hold these accounts and booked a trip before March 18, you may be covered for coronavirus-related claims.

 

Even as air bridges open up, hopeful holidaymakers could still be in for a disappointment.

Travel giant TUI has already cancelled 96 per cent of its planned flights between July 11 and 24. In August, fewer than half of short-haul and mid-haul journeys are due to go ahead.

EasyJet plans to fly just half of its 1,022 routes in July and three quarters of flights in August.

Mr Brehany says: ‘Talk of air bridges is offering a false sense of security to people booking holidays because conditions may change and that could introduce holidaymakers to a new round of cancellations.’

Booking a package holiday – which could include flights and accommodation bought at the same time – can give you added protection. 

You will be entitled to a refund or to be brought home if necessary should the travel company organising your package go out of business.

Your holiday should also be refunded within 14 days under the Package Holiday Regulations.

But thousands of people are still waiting for their money back for holidays already lost to the pandemic amid a backlog that is causing months of delays.

Airlines have also been accused of fobbing people off with vouchers or rebookings when it is within those passengers’ rights to request a full refund. Those who accept the voucher may not be able to claim a refund later if the airline collapses.

If you choose the rebooking option and later decide you do not want to travel, you may not be able to ask for your money back.

Travellers are also being kept in the dark as to whether they will receive refunds for hotel bookings this summer.

Is it better to stay in the UK?

English hotels, hostels, B&Bs, holiday cottages, campsites and caravan parks have been given the go-ahead to reopen from Saturday.

Outdoor attractions such as national parks and beaches are also open to visitors, with museums and galleries opening soon.

In Scotland, tourist hotspots including pubs, hotels and restaurants could open from Monday, July 15 provided safety measures are in place. 

However, English visitors may have to quarantine for 14 days if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

You may be able to holiday in Wales from Saturday, July 13, when hotels and other accommodation could open, but a decision is not expected until a review of the rules next week.

Northern Ireland has permitted holiday accommodation such as apartments, cottages, caravan parks and campsites to open since June 26.

Hotels can reopen from Friday and hotel spas from Monday.

Visitor attractions can also admit the public from Friday provided social distancing measures are in place.

Airlines have also been accused of fobbing people off with vouchers or rebookings when it is within those passengers' rights to request a full refund

Airlines have also been accused of fobbing people off with vouchers or rebookings when it is within those passengers’ rights to request a full refund

Travel insurance may cover some parts of your UK holiday, but again there are gaps. 

One policy in 12 does not include cancellation as standard and only 6 per cent offer it as an optional add-on, according to Defaqto. You might also be covered under your home insurance policy.

Defaqto says UK holidays are typically covered only if you pre-book your accommodation for two nights or more. 

You may also have to be a certain distance from home: LV= will pay out only if you are 25 miles from home or have gone over a sea.

Watch out for bogus bargains 

Holidaymakers desperate to get away should beware of scams, including fake websites offering cheap holidays.

Criminals are setting up fake sites offering low-cost travel deals that are designed to steal your money and personal information.

As of May 28 last year, banks must refund customers who are tricked into transferring money to fraudsters if they meet the requirements of a new code.

However, they can refuse if they believe victims have not done enough to protect themselves.

So where possible, pay on a credit card when goods cost £100 or more. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects buyers in the case of non-delivery or if goods are faulty.

Be wary of emails, calls and social media posts that come out of the blue offering refunds for cancelled flights, even if they look legitimate. Do not click on links in attachments if you are not sure the sender is genuine.

If in doubt, check that the email address of the sender corresponds with what you have on file if you are waiting for a refund. Contact the company directly using information on its website.

Those planning a summer holiday in Britain should also be aware of bogus caravan and motorhome listings on eBay and other auction websites.

Fraudsters have been citing lockdown as the reason they cannot allow buyers to check over caravans and motorhomes in person before paying.

They will also try to get you to communicate away from the website to avoid detection, and request that you pay by bank transfer.

Ebay’s Money Back Guarantee, which promises a refund for items that do not arrive, does not cover vehicles.

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