See the full list of countries that are exempt from the UK quarantine rules.
1. Should I cancel my holiday?
If you can afford to, consider postponing your trip rather than cancelling it completely, should your health or updated government advice mean that you can’t go away as planned. There are a lot of people out there relying on us, with around 10 per cent of the world working in tourism. To learn more about how important this is, see our guide on why you shouldn’t cancel your holiday.
Why you shouldn’t cancel your holiday
2. How much will it cost me if I do cancel?
For future travel, much depends on how you have booked your holiday and the latest FCO advice. If you have booked a package with a tour operator and the FCO then starts to advise against all but essential travel to your destination, most tour operators will allow you to cancel without penalty. They might also offer you an alternative holiday, or suggest you postpone travelling dates.
Airlines aren’t always in a position to give a straight refund, only promise credit or change dates. If flight costs were built into the price of your holiday, that part is going to be even trickier to recover. Add to this taxes and third-party fees paid for from the original fares. For more advice on cancellations, see Juliet Kinsman’s article: my holiday is cancelled: why don’t you just give me a refund.
My holiday is cancelled: why don’t you just give me a refund?
3. What if I booked independently?
Independent travellers who have booked say, a flight and accommodation separately, normally have no right to a refund if they cancel unilaterally, even if the FCO has since advised against travel. In practice, however, most airlines are cancelling flights and refunding passengers in this situation. A hotel or villa company doesn’t have to give you your money back – though it is obviously worth talking to them; they may allow you to postpone your stay.
4. Does travel insurance cover Coronavirus cancellations?
If you already have travel insurance it will normally cover your cancellation costs if you, or one of your travelling companions, falls ill before departure and can’t travel – though you will need a medical report from your doctor to confirm this. Some policies – though not many – cover losses incurred if you have booked independently and have to cancel because of FCO advice. Look for ‘travel disruption cover’ or ‘journey disruption cover’ in the policy details, which may or may not include disruption due to epidemics (see also below). If you are simply nervous of travelling and want to cancel – which is known as ‘disinclination to travel’ in the insurance industry – in the past no policy would have covered you, though in 2020 some companies have begun to include these kind of cancellations, such as The Post Office.
5. So what use is travel insurance?
The key value of travel insurance is the medical cover it offers while you are travelling. This will underwrite the cost of treatment and if necessary a hospital stay if you fall ill on holiday. But whether or not you are covered for accommodation costs if you are diagnosed with Covid-19 and have to enter self-isolation or quarantine while you are abroad varies by policy. Some insurers, however, will pay up if you need a new flight home in these circumstances. In short – it varies, so be sure to read the small print.
8. Which websites should I check for the best information and advice?
A good website that gives the latest figures for every country reporting cases of Covid-19 is worldometers.info. For the latest formal FCO advice on every country in the world see gov.uk and click on travel advice. The best health advice is at nhs.uk.
9. Which travel insurance policy should I buy?
If you have a trip booked and don’t yet have insurance, it’s important to buy a policy as soon as possible. That way, if anything changes – FCO advice for example – you will already have cover in place. The problem with choosing the best policy is that everyone has different requirements – it may depend on your destination, the type of trip (are you doing lots of adventurous activities, for example?) and quite detailed, nerdy stuff such as ‘travel disruption cover’, which is particularly useful at the moment if you are travelling independently (see point four, above). There is no shortcut to checking through the key provisions of any insurance you are considering; I buy my cover from PJ Hayman (travelpluscover.co.uk), which has an excellent policy that will refund you if, for example, the FCO advises against travel.
10. What if my airline collapses?
It’s vital to make sure you pay for flights with a credit card (if you are booking a flight direct from the airline and it costs more than £100 you can claim your money back from the credit card company) or to make sure that any tour operator you book with has up-to-date Atol protection – or can show that it has an alternative bonding arrangement in place.
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