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Get the right travel insurance for you
Your first step is to buy a flight insurance policy to suit your needs. This will protect you should you need to cancel or amend your plans for reasons beyond your control...
Wherever you travel, you should always ensure you have a travel insurance policy. Whether you opt for single trip or annual cover, you will be covered for cancellation from day one, ensuring that should you have to cancel your flight due to medical or other reasons outside your control you will not lose your money. This is very sensible when most flight tickets we buy are not changeable after booking and usually offer no refund other than tax.
Additionally, you will have cover for things like medical costs, lost and stolen baggage and travel delays. While you have rights for flight cancellations and delays under EU legislation, most flight insurance policies will make a cash payout on top of your legal entitlement. And if you miss your plane through no fault of your own before you even leave the UK, a policy that includes a missed departure clause will also help you out with the additional costs of rearranging your travel plans.
As well as taking out travel insurance to cover you, you should also consider what would happen if your flight company or airline failed before you flew away...
In recent years we have all experienced the economic downturn and the travel industry hasn't escaped unscathed. We've seen several airlines and tour operators collapse in recent years, including the likes of Spanish airline Spanair, XL Airways and holidays, Libra, Zoom and Kiss Flights, whose collapse left tens of thousands of British travellers stranded overseas. We have also seen travel companies such as Goldtrail collapse, leaving people unable to check into hotels they had already paid for.
When money's tight, it can be tempting to cut corners in the search for an affordable annual getaway, but sacrificing insurance protection for a cheap holiday is a false economy and could cost you dearly, should the worst happen. And if you take out a travel insurance policy that includes company failure you will have peace of mind when you travel.
Depending on how you booked and paid for your trip, you may already have a degree of protection against this kind of thing. But if you don't book your flights as part of an ATOL-protected package holiday and you don't have a comprehensive travel insurance policy, you could be at risk of losing money or, worse, being stranded in a foreign country.
For example, if you regularly fly over to the Continent to visit family, a holiday home or on business, it's easy to imagine a situation where you just book flights online and opt for the cheapest possible flight insurance policy, which might not be robust enough.
So if the airline were to go bust before your trip, you could be left out of pocket. Or if it went bust while you were away, you could be stranded and left to make your own way home, potentially facing costs of hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
But if you buy a policy including end supplier failure you will have cover if the airline goes into administration before you travel or if you have to pay for replacement flights if it goes into administration after your departure from the UK. The TravelSupermarket search results highlight policies which include this cover within the Trip Disruption section of the policy details, so check for details before buying.
If you're flying with a large, well-established airline such as British Airways, then the risk is obviously far less than if you're flying with a smaller, less popular airline - but you should always make sure you have the appropriate level of protection.
TravelSupermarket recommends a 'belt and braces' approach to booking a holiday to ensure you have the maximum possible level of protection.
Wherever possible, you should book an ATOL or ATOL Flight-Plus protected holiday. If you're unsure whether or not your holiday has this protection, you need to ask. The provider should issue you with an ATOL certificate.
Next, always pay for your holiday using a credit card. Booking on a credit card will give you protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, provided you spend between £100 and £30,000. If your airline collapsed, you'd be able to claim back what you paid for your flights from the credit card supplier, who is jointly liable with the airline to make sure you get what you paid for.
If you do pay on a credit card, you'll only be reimbursed for the original cost of the flights. You won't get anything towards replacement flights or accommodation.
Finally, if you can't book an ATOL-protected holiday, you need to make sure you have a comprehensive flight insurance policy that includes end supplier failure. You can check policies for this on our site using the Travel Disruption filter in the results. Alternatively, you can buy it as an add-on for your existing travel insurance policy.
As with any form of insurance, if you're not clear on exactly what you're covered and not covered for, speak to the insurer directly and ask.