What is holiday cancellation insurance?

·5-min read

Travel insurance and coronavirus

When buying travel insurance, check whether the policy provides cancellation cover that includes coronavirus risks, including if you fall ill or need to isolate before you travel. You should also have cover in case you fall ill (including with Covid) while you are away. Read the policy documents and check levels of cover with the insurer if you are not sure what protection is provided.

No one wants to cancel their trip unless they have to. But if you must, holiday cancellation insurance can mean you at least don’t lose out on the money you’ve paid for it.

Learn more about holiday cancellation insurance and how it is affected by Covid-19 here.

What is holiday cancellation insurance?

Holiday cancellation insurance covers the costs if something unexpected occurs and you need to cancel your holiday. For example, you may fall ill, have an accident that prevents you from travelling, or there may be a sudden bereavement in the family.

Policies may also pay out if you are divorced or become unemployed ahead of your trip.

Cancellation insurance typically covers your holiday's costs if cancelled or because of any of the reasons listed in your policy. It is one of the essential parts of your travel insurance plan and can be a lifesaver if you have no choice but to cancel your trip.

While cancellation cover is normally included in all travel insurance policies, it is essential to check your plan's terms and conditions. The amount of cover and the terms can vary across policies and providers. Always check the wording of your plan carefully, so you know exactly what circumstances are covered.

Buy when you book!

Cancellation cover provides valuable protection in the period before you set off on your journey, so it is important to buy your policy as soon as you book or make any financial outlay.

The cancellation section of your policy will usually also include cover for ‘curtailment’. This is when you have to cut your trip short, either because of the same reasons as might cause you to cancel, or there is a problem beyond your control at your destination, such as your accommodation no longer being available.

What about cancellation cover and Covid-19?

Many providers had limited or adjusted their holiday cancellation cover on policies bought after 11 March 2020, when Covid-19 was officially documented as a pandemic. Now, it’s likely that travel cancellation claims linking to Covid-19 will be omitted from most insurance plans as the virus is considered a ‘known event’ that travellers will be aware of.

Likewise, if you choose to travel abroad to a destination where the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCO) is advising against non-essential travel at the time of your departure, then your travel insurance plan will be invalid and any claim will be rejected.

What does holiday cancellation insurance cover?

What does holiday cancellation insurance cover?

Holiday cancellation insurance plans typically cover the price of pre-booked flights, transport, accommodation, and any other agreed costs that you are unable to recover due to a last-minute shift of plans.

It may also cover activities and excursions you’ve already paid for or are due to pay because you’ve already booked them. However, there may be an upper limit per tour on the amount your provider will cover.

To receive a payout, the circumstances of the cancellation must be out of your control. These conditions usually include events like:

  • Holiday destination becomes unsafe.

Depending on the policy, you may also be covered if you or one of the people you are travelling with becomes pregnant once the plan has been bought, or if your doctor recommends not travelling due to pregnancy complications.

If you work in the armed forces, then you may also be covered if you’re requested to return to duty before the end of your trip.

If your claim is successful, you’ll receive money to compensate for your loss, up to the financial limit you specify when buying your policy. The higher the coverage you request, the more expensive your insurance will be.

What isn’t covered?

You won’t receive a payout for the cost of transport, accommodation, or activities if you had to cancel them due to:

injury caused when you were under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs

your airline cancelling your flights. This is because the airline will be the one to compensate you

you changed your mind about going on holiday. This is called ‘disinclination to travel’ and is not something you can insure against.

What is the process for claiming?

You can cancel your trip and claim at any point before your departure. As soon as you realize you need to cancel your trip, contact your insurance provider or check their website for instructions on how to make a claim.

Remember, you’ll need to provide evidence to back up your claim. Evidence can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • death certificates.

You can also claim for ‘curtailment’ if you need to cut your trip short at any point. Curtailment cover is for when you’ve already left for your holiday, and you have to go before you planned.

In most cases, you can claim for the same reasons as cancellation cover. However, with curtailment cover, your claim is based on the days you haven’t used rather than your whole holiday.

What if your airline cancels your flights?

If your flight is delayed by more than three hours or cancelled, your airline should cover the costs. If you’re unsure how to make a claim, check your airline’s website or call them.

Your travel insurance plan may provide cover for any expenses you incur as a result of cancellation, up to a certain amount. Your policy documents will have details.

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