18 Aug

Ask the experts: Ian Hall, ABTA’s head of travel insurance

The following article was originally published in the August 2022 edition of ABTA Magazine here.

Have a burning question you can’t find the answer to? Send us your query for an expert response. This month, it’s Ian Hall, ABTA’s head of travel insurance

After the spate of cancelled bookings by airlines, I have had some enquiries from my customers as to best way to protect themselves, particularly in relation to travel insurance, could you give me a steer on what to advise them?

With regular announcements of hundreds of cancelled flights in the media as part of the “travel chaos” narrative it is understandable that customers may be concerned.

It is useful to provide some context. Even at the height of the cancellations only three per cent of flights were cancelled and of those the majority of passengers were offered alternative flights. Airlines have also tried to move away from cancelling flights at short notice giving much more opportunity to rebook and minimise inconvenience.

The worst case scenario was for those customers who had had their flights cancelled, no alternative was available and they were unable to travel. The airline would be responsible to refund the flight cost, but if they had made their own arrangements, they would almost certainly be liable for relevant cancellation costs for accommodation, car hire and other ancillary services.

This is where travel insurance has a role to play.

Travel insurance may cover for cancellation charges in these circumstances – look under ‘Disruption or delay to travel plans’. As a rule of thumb, cheaper, lower quality policies are unlikely to provide disruption cover and it is always advisable for a whole raft of other reasons to advise customers to purchase a good quality policy. The travel insurance market is very competitive, so prices are not excessive.

Another way around this is simply to encourage them to book a package holiday, in which case the tour operator would offer them a suitable alternative holiday or at the very least a full refund of the holiday cost.