Cancelled flights and holiday disruption
Many people in the UK have recently experienced travel disruption due to flight cancellation and delays. If you have experienced delay or disruption, you should first contact your travel provider, tour operator and/or airline to discuss the current situation regarding travel and/or to seek a refund for any cancelled flights or trips.
If a flight is cancelled, you may be entitled to an alternative flight at no extra cost or a refund under European Regulation 261/2004. You may also be entitled to compensation if your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure.
If you booked a package holiday, you may be entitled to a full refund from your travel provider under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.
Claiming on your travel insurance policy
Most travel insurance policies don’t cover claims if the losses can be recovered from another source. So, before contacting your travel insurance provider, you should:
- ask the airline/travel provider for a refund or compensation where you can
- ask the airline/package holiday provider to confirm, in writing, why they won’t consider a refund or compensation
You can read more about our approach to complaints we see about travel cancellation and delays on our website.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance covers a variety of risks relating to holidays. These are normally for trips abroad but sometimes may include trips in the UK.
Customers may think travel insurance covers everything that can go wrong with a holiday. But, this isn’t the case. Every policy is different, so it’s important to double check your policy has the cover you need before you go away.
If you made a claim on your policy and things didn’t go as you expected, it can be worth reviewing your policy terms and conditions to find out what you’re covered for and why the insurer isn’t paying out.
There are three types of policies. Those being:
- single trip policies which cover the risk of a single holiday,
- annual multi-trip policies that cover the risk of multiple trips during a 12 month period,
- ongoing rolling multi-trip policies that renew over a 12 month period (these are generally provided with a packaged bank account.
The main features of travel insurance are cover for:
- emergency medical expenses,
- the extra cost of coming home either early or late due to illness,
- the cost of cancelling a holiday for specific reasons defined under the policy.
Policies also usually cover other things as well like:
- lost money,
- lost baggage,
- travel delays,
- missed departure,
- claims for injuries.
Some policies also have add-ons either offered free or for an extra cost. These can be things like:
- personal liability cover,
- overseas legal expenses cover,
- personal accident and death benefit.
Types of complaint we see
We hear from consumers who tell us that:
- their insurer unfairly declined a claim
- they are unhappy with the amount they’ve been paid for a claim
- their policy was mis-sold as they weren’t aware of certain exclusions or conditions when they first bought the policy
Sometimes consumers may think the policy has been mis-sold because their claim hasn’t been paid. When we’re investigating these complaints, we’ll look at the claims complaint first and then consider if they have been mis-sold the policy. But in some cases, the insurer not paying a claim may not mean the policy was mis-sold to you.
Read more about the different types of travel insurance complaints we see, and our approach to putting them right:
Complaints involving Covid-19
You should contact your travel provider, tour operator and/or airline to discuss the current situation on travel or to raise claims for cancelled flights or trips. ABTA and the Civil Aviation Authority have published information for customers, passengers and holidaymakers.
If you have booked a package holiday you are entitled to a full refund from your travel provider under the Package Travel Regulations 2018 in certain circumstances. We are aware that some travel providers have encouraged consumers to claim on their insurance policies and have refused to issue refunds to consumers. The Competitions and Markets Authority wrote an open letter to the travel industry in relation to this.
Before complaining we’d encourage consumers to:
- Ask the travel provider for a refund
- Make reasonable attempts to obtain a refund/voucher from their package holiday provider
- Ask the package holiday provider to confirm, in writing, why they don’t consider a refund can be provided under the Package Travel Regulations
- If the travel provider is ABTA registered to follow the relevant guidance on ABTA’s website
We understand consumers might feel their single or annual multi-trip travel insurance policy is of little use to them due to the impact of Covid-19 – in particular if a holiday has been cancelled or if consumers have no plans to travel again in the immediate future.
However, a travel insurer carries the risk of a holiday cancellation claim being made from when a travel insurance policy starts. So, a consumer may already had the benefit of some cover under the policy, whether or not they travelled.
This means we’re unlikely to recommend that consumers should be provided with a full refund of the policy premiums paid in situations where cover under the policy had already started.
Many travel insurers are offering consumers a partial pro-rata refund for their annual or single trip holidays. This is usually in the form of a voucher or a cash refund.
This usually means that the insurer is going beyond what they are required to do by the relevant industry guidelines and the policy terms and conditions.
Where we think an insurer has offered a fair refund we’re likely to conclude that the insurer has acted reasonably. Where insurers have offered a voucher, rather than cash, we usually think that’s fair and reasonable provided that the terms of the voucher aren’t unreasonable or restrictive. However, we will always take into account the consumer’s individual circumstances.
We can't advise whether you can or should book a new trip, cancel a future trip, or give you general travel advice. You should check the latest government advice for guidance.
How to complain
If you have a complaint about your travel insurance policy, talk to your insurer first. They need to have the chance to put things right. They have to give you their final response within eight weeks for most types of complaint.
If you bought the policy online and/or without any advice, the insurer might be the right person to direct a mis-sale complaint. If you used a travel insurance broker, a complaint about the sale of the policy should be directed to them.
If you’re unhappy with their response, or if they don’t respond, let us know. We’ll check your complaint is something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate to understand what happened and what went wrong.
Find out more about how to complain.
What we look at
To help us consider a complaint fairly, we’ll ask you to provide some information, for example a copy of your travel insurance policy certificate or a copy of the policy terms and conditions.
We’ll make our decision about what happened using evidence provided by you, the financial business and any relevant third parties. In reaching a decision, we consider:
- Insurance Conduct of Business Sourcebook (ICOBS) and the rules on general and protection insurance products sales
- Customer Insurance (Disclosures and Representations) Act 2012
- the terms and conditions of the travel insurance policy
Putting things right
If we think your insurer has made a mistake or treated you unfairly, we’ll tell them to put things right. This usually means that they need to put you back into the position you'd have been in if the problem hadn't happened.
We’ll also consider whether you’ve experienced any distress or inconvenience as a result of what the business did wrong and whether we think it’s appropriate to award compensation.
Our insurer is charging us too much for our baggage claim
Consumer complains about insurer's handling of claim after bad experience on flight
Travel Insurance Distress and inconvenience Up to £5,000
Information for financial businesses
If you’re a business looking for information to help you resolve complaints or want to find out more technical information, you can find more detail about complaints about travel insurance in the business section of our website.