This year, when it comes to consumers booking a risk-free holiday the combination of a possible swine-flu pandemic and the ongoing financial crisis have created a perfect storm . British holidaymakers are tossing up between a ‘staycation’, the act of staying in the UK as a cheaper form of holiday, and the risk of paying for the sun overseas during a time when airlines and travel agents are facing dubious futures. Unfortunately, neither option is without its risks.
Staycations, are you covered?
Insurers Liverpool Victoria have told the Independent in a report that as many as two in five Britons will be choosing the UK as their holiday destination this year. Another money saving approach involves staycationers opting to go without travel insurance to save that little bit more. This is also risky. Medical cover may not be needed on a UK holiday but there is still the risk of cancellation, severe flight delay and a loss of luggage on a domestic holiday. Obtaining sufficient travel insurance cover for this form of holiday is just as important as it is for overseas trips.
Paying for the sun, what are the risks?
According to the Independent's findings, September is the month that a travel agent is most likely to go bust. However, August is also a common time for these firms to feel the pinch. So what can you do in order to make sure you are covered if the holiday you have booked is cancelled because the travel agency has gone out of business?
The first approach is to make sure your travel agent is part of a scheme that covers the customer in cases of the travel agent becoming bankrupt. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) covers 6,000 travel agents and tour operators for such occurrences. The Air Travel Organisers’ Licence provides a similar cover for flights and air holiday packages purchased through holiday companies. Always make sure you ask check with your travel agent or holiday company if your money is protected through the ABTA or ATOL schemes.
Secondly, buy comprehensive travel insurance. Purchasing cheap insurance and then relying on it is no guarantee that you will be covered if your holiday does not take-off. Checking the terms of the cover before signing up is essential. Ensure that the policy covers you in cases of your travel agents’ insolvency.
Finally, book your holiday on a credit card. Bookings over £100 provide you with cover by the credit card company in the case of the travel agent going bust. Credit card bookings should not be your only form of security, booking through ABTA and ATOL schemes and holding comprehensive travel insurance is always the safest option.
A solicitor with a background in consumer law can advise you on your rights if you have a claim against a travel agent or holiday company.
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