Coronavirus: how to get your money back if your holiday is cancelled

Have you had an upcoming holiday cancelled because of coronavirus? Ruth Jackson-Kirby explains how to get your cash back.

The government’s lockdown announcement on Monday included advice “that all holidays and non-essential travel within the UK should now be off limits to slow the spread of coronavirus”, says Helen Coffey in The Independent. 

“Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence.”

So, what does that mean if you have a trip booked in the next few weeks? Generally speaking, insurers and holiday firms take their cue from official government advice, which means that trips within this country should now be treated the same as foreign holidays. You should be offered new dates for your trip or a refund.

The first thing to do is contact your accommodation or travel provider and ask what their policy is under the current circumstances. 

Accommodation firms including Airbnb, Booking.com and some hotel chains are waiving their cancellation fees for people having to abandon travel plans, says Jo Rhodes on Which?, the independent consumers’ group. Many are also offering flexible cancellation policies.

If you were due to stay somewhere that has closed owing to the virus, “it’s likely you’ll get a full refund for your trip direct from the company – and won’t need to claim on insurance”, says Naomi Schraer on Moneysavingexpert.com.

More broadly, this extraordinary situation is also causing the travel industry to change its rules regarding refunds. Almost £1bn worth of holidays due to take place between 17 March and 16 April have been cancelled, according to The Independent. These huge payouts could cause travel firms to collapse. 

As a result, the European Commission has updated its guidance on customer refunds. “Holidaymakers are being asked to take vouchers instead of refunds,” says Kara Godfrey in The Sun. An ABTA spokesperson told The Sun that accepting a voucher will mean holidaymakers get “essential assurance that they will either get a holiday or their money back, as well as providing a much needed helping hand to travel companies through these difficult and unprecedented times.”

You may also be able to claim for a cancelled trip through your travel insurance. British travel insurance claims are on track to  hit a record high because of Covid-19.

“The Association of British Insurers (ABI) expects the industry to pay out at least £275m for coronavirus-related claims, mostly to cover cancellations,” says Oliver Ralph in The Financial Times. “The previous record for cancellation payouts was £148m in 2010 when travel was disrupted by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.”

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