Over the weekend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) made a sudden U-turn on its travel corridor list by reinstating a major travel ban on Spain following a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases. British holidaymakers left devastated by the unforeseen circumstance may face even more financial losses if their flight and hotel bookings have not been cancelled warned Martin Lewis and the Money Saving Expert (MSE) team.
Luckily, the team of Financial journalists offered some tips for would-be holidaymakers who find themselves in this situation.
Largely, whether travellers are entitled to a refund or not depends on whether they bought a package deal, or if they bought their flights and hotel separately.
Holidaymakers with package holiday bookings should normally be able to get a refund within 14 days, even if the trip has not been cancelled.
This is due to the Package Travel Regulations which state “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances” occur which “significantly affect the performance of the package” customers are entitled to claim their cash back.
The MSE team add: “While they don’t specifically state that an FCO warning would count as one of these circumstances – though they do give as an example: ‘the outbreak of a serious disease at the travel destination’ – in practice travel trade body ABTA says firms MUST refund you if the FCO warns against travel and you can’t be given a holiday without ‘significant change’.”
However, customers who snapped up cheap flights and hotel deals in recent weeks may be left struggling to have any form of refund entitlement.
What’s more, due to the majority of travel insurance policies being unable to provide coverage for many coronavirus related issues, according to Martin, even travel insurance can’t save you in this situation.
“If your flight hasn’t been cancelled and is still running, then, unfortunately, you won’t be owed a refund, even though the Foreign Office is warning against non-essential travel,” warns the MSE team.
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They add: “You may be able to claim on travel insurance, but it’ll depend on your policy, when you bought it and when you booked.”
Many insurers amended policies following coronavirus being named a pandemic on March 11.
The good news is, there are some ways to lessen losses.
Speaking on an impromptu video shared over the weekend, Martin shared a lifeline for Britons in this situation.
“Those people who booked a holiday recently to Spain even if you have travel insurance you’re not going to be covered in most cases if the flight is still on and the hotel is still on,” he said.
“You’re not going to be covered because they are still up and running and they would say that’s your issue.
“So what can you do? Certainly, I would be looking to take advantage of ‘you can move your flight for free’ and book it to another time because a refund is certainly unlikely.
“I’d be taking advantage of any ATOL credit notes which are now backed by the government.
“I’d be talking to the hotel about trying to move it to the future because you’re going to struggle to get a full refund.”
However, he did suggest at least asking for a refund, as some holiday providers may be open to the idea.
Martin then warned: “If you’re getting a blanket no don’t look and think travel insurance is going to cover you.
“It is going to be difficult.”
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