Coronavirus: Martin Lewis discusses travel insurance cover
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According to new research from hospitality industry experts at Mews, a quarter (27 percent) of UK adults plan to go on more holidays in 2022 than in previous years. One-fifth of those said they were planning a long-haul holiday, whilst a third plan to take more holidays in the UK. However, following soaring Covid cases as a result of the Omicron variant, it is clear the uncertainty of the pandemic is not completely behind us.
For those looking ahead to holidays though, this uncertainty could come at an undesirable cost.
That is why it is vital those looking to book protect their travel plans, but how exactly can you do this?
Make sure you have the correct travel insurance coverage
Perhaps the most important part of booking travel, even before coronavirus took its hold, is purchasing adequate travel insurance.
Antony Martin, managing director at Insurefor.com told Express.co.uk: “The right insurance cover will ensure they are fully protected ahead of their trip and therefore avoid any financial losses.”
Though travel insurance covers everything from delayed flights to lost luggage, in the age of COVID-19, it is arguably more important than ever.
Tim Riley, managing director of True Traveller said: “There are two distinct questions here. The first is cancelling because you’ve caught COVID, and the second is cancelling because there’s a travel restriction put on an area which prevents you from travelling there.”
In the event you or a member of your family catch coronavirus before you’re due to travel, it is vital you check the small print of your insurance policy.
Mr Riley told Express.co.uk: “Most travel insurers, including True Traveller, provide cancellation cover if you contract COVID before you travel. There is no requirement for travel companies or airlines to offer flexible cancellation or amendment fees for any sort of illness or injury, so that’s one of the reasons why travel insurance is pretty much a must when travelling. If you’re not sure if your travel insurance will cover COVID, ask them.”
If a travel restriction, such as a Foreign Office advisory, stops you from travelling, this is in the hands of your travel provider.
Mr Riley added: “The tour operator or airline must offer you a full refund or provide a free date change. This is the law under the Package Travel Regulations.
“However, if you are being your own travel agent, and, for example, booked your flights directly with an airline and your accommodation directly with the hotel, your airline will refund you, but your hotel may not, nor do they have to.
“That’s why, in these uncertain times, to book a package with a travel agent is the sensible thing to do.”
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Look for a “protection promise”
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, a wave of sudden holiday cancellations saw airlines, hotels and tour operators inundated with complaints from customers.
Since then, many services across the travel and tourism industry have introduced “protection promises” which guarantee refunds or rebooking options in the face of unexpected cancellations.
Paul Melinis, managing director of river cruising and touring specialist APT told Express.co.uk: “For peace of mind against cancellations, booking ahead with a reputable operator that has flexible policies in place makes advance bookings risk free. “
Elegant Resorts’ managing director Lisa Fitzell added: “Travel advice constantly changes at the moment and with a high number of Covid cases occurring here and around the world flexibility is key.
“Very early on in the pandemic, we introduced the Elegant Promise offering low deposits, and flexibility to amend the hotels right up to departure and cancellation protection if a significant government advice changes so clients can book their holidays in the knowledge that their bookings and money are protected.”
Book sooner rather than later
With global Covid restrictions continuing to fluctuate, it may seem like a wise idea to hang on until closer to the time. However, according to experts booking sooner could be the best way to protect yourself and ensure your dream holiday.
Mr Melinis said: “We’re seeing holidaymakers desperate to secure travel in 2022 and, because a selection of operators have consolidated or cancelled their holiday offering, there will be some supply and demand challenges for customers.
“To secure their preferred dates and destinations this year it’s advisable not to wait and book sooner rather than later.”
Getting a date in the diary might also be crucial when it comes to saving money.
Mr Riley said: “Holiday and flight prices are currently very low, and as demand is low airlines and tour operators are still keeping prices low to encourage demand.
“Now is the ideal time to book, and after two years of uncertainty, there is a massive pent up demand, so prices will go up, and there will be little chance of last-minute discounts. “
He also points to airlines retiring older aircraft, such as British Airways who have retired the whole of their 747 fleet, adding: “There’s quite literally less capacity.”
However, when booking travel it is vital you purchase insurance at the same time to ensure full protection should circumstances take a sudden nose-dive.
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