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Travel protection explained

Holidays are an opportunity to relax and unwind from the stresses and strains of daily life and to recharge our batteries. They are so precious and we dream of sun-soaked beaches, looking forward to our breaks for the best part of the year.

However, for many, this dream often turns into a nightmare as, having handed over our precious money, some operators fail to or are no longer able to deliver their part of the service.

So how can our holidays be fully protected? All the acronyms, regulations and trade organisations seem to offer security, yet it still happens! Confused?

The Flexicover Team have summarised several associations and regulations that can help protect and support you.

ATOL – Air Travel Organiser’s Licence

An ATOL-bonded holiday will ensure you do not lose money or become stranded abroad if your travel company collapses. This licensing scheme is run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and all travel companies selling air holiday packages and flights in the UK are required by law to hold one. The law says your holiday must be protected if you book a holiday (including a cruise), that includes any two elements of (a) flights (b) accommodation and (c) car hire along with certain flight-only scenarios. However, ATOL does not protect you if you book directly with an airline selling seats on their own flights, generally scheduled airlines (e.g. British Airways). Do make sure you are given an ATOL Certificate as soon as you pay for a holiday or flight! Also note, when booking an ATOL covered holiday you will pay an ATOL Protection Contribution (APC) of £2.50 per person. More information about ATOL

ABTA – The Travel Association

ABTA's main aims are to maintain high standards of trading practice for the benefit of its members and the consumers that they serve. Members can choose to insure themselves for consumer protection claims via the ABTA Protection Plan. This insurance is available to ABTA members for cover against the financial failure of a selected end supplier not protected by any other scheme (such as an airline, hotel or car hire company). Late last year ABTA also launched the “Your Protection Checklist” for consumers, which outlines what documentation you should receive when booking your travel arrangements. Always ask your agent how you are protected; ABTA provides direct protection for 3.7 million holidays and makes sure that, should it be necessary, its members have arranged suitable protection alternatives where none exists. More information about ABTA financial protection

TTA – The Travel Trust Association

TTA members consist of travel agents, tour operators and travel organisers and they make sure every penny that you pay to a member is protected. Every TTA member deposits your money into a special Trust account to hold customers' money. This money is supervised by an appointed Trustee who is usually a banker, chartered/certified accountant or solicitor. Should a member become insolvent, the money you have secured with TTA will be used either to help complete your holiday and for your return home, or for a full refund. More information about TTA

The Global Travel Group and Travel Counsellors also offer their customers protection through similar trust accounts.

EU Air Passenger Rights

Did you know you have certain rights if things go wrong? If your flight is delayed then, depending on the flight distance and length of delay (2 hours for short flights to 4 hours for longer), the carrier must provide reasonable care (including refreshments, meals and overnight accommodation). If your flight is cancelled, the airline must offer reimbursement of your ticket within seven days or offer re-routing to your final destination; if you chose to get a refund, airlines often offer vouchers but vouchers usually have a limited validity and can be difficult to exchange. Where possible, insist on financial compensation through cash, bank transfer or cheques. The rules apply to all flights, including charter flights and package holidays, starting from an EU airport. More information about air passenger rights

Scheduled Airline Failure cover

Many holidaymakers who book different components of their holiday separately (also called ‘dynamic packaging’) think their travel insurance will cover them if their bookings are affected by the financial collapse of their airline but this isn’t always the case. Nowadays high-end policies do offer Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) but it isn’t universal. If you are not covered by an ATOL, do ensure that your policy includes SAFI. It is important to note that SAFI normally only covers the cost of the airfare and not any additional costs for excursions or pre-paid accommodation. To cover any of these additional costs you would need End Supplier Failure Insurance; this is available as a standalone policy. More information about SAFI

Flash the plastic

Paying for your airline tickets by credit card can offer some limited protection too. Under the Consumer Credit Act you will get your money back if you have spent over £100. The drawback is that the value of a single flight must be £100 or more – if three flights add up to £100 you are not covered. Some debit cards offer similar protection but not on the same scale – do check with your debit card provider.

Wherever you decide to travel, Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialists, are committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away. And should you so require, our Platinum policies provide you with SAFI cover as standard.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!