When you are planning your holiday, it’s easy to have the ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude and push insurance to the back of your mind. No one wants to think about what could go wrong when you could be thinking about sipping sangria on the beach.
Unfortunately the reality is that things can and do go wrong and if you don’t have adequate insurance in place your holiday could go from a dream to a nightmare.
Recent changes to ATOL protection has left many people confused as to what they are covered for and why they even need travel insurance. Historically, when you bought a package holiday you were protected by the ATOL scheme. This meant that if an airline or hotel went bust after you booked the holiday, your travel agent would find you an alternative or refund the money.
The new cover offered by ATOL is called Flight-Plus and is designed to cover holidays where you book a flight, and then a hotel or hire car through the same company. This will cover many trips that previously went uncovered such as trips bought independently online.
However a key point to note is that this cover only protects you if you buy the two separate elements within 24 hours of each other. So, if you buy your flights and then wait around for a week before picking your hotel, you will not be covered by Flight-Plus.
There are other gaps in the cover ATOL provides which is why it is essential that you have adequate travel insurance in place.
What ATOL/Flight-Plus doesn’t cover:
• Accommodation or car hire booked more than 24 hours before or after booking flights with the same provider.
• Flights booked directly with the airline or a ticket agent working directly for the airline and therefore issuing an immediate flight ticket after booking.
• Flights within the UK.
• Repatriation to the UK. If you are too ill to travel on your booked return flight or if you die abroad, ATOL will not cover the cost of getting you back to the UK and neither does the EHIC card.
The ATOL scheme also doesn’t cover you for a number of other eventualities that a comprehensive travel insurance policy should offer protection for. If you were to go on holiday and rely on the cover that ATOL offers you would not be covered for cancellation/curtailment, medical expenses or lost or stolen possessions.
Supplier failure cover
Its also worth looking at end supplier failure cover. This is when an end supplier such as an airline, hotel, or an excursion provider goes into administration, which can ruin a holiday and leave you out of pocket. Not all insurers offer end supplier failure cover but if you are booking any elements of your holiday independently, its worth checking that your policy covers this so you are protected should the worst happen.
It’s also important to remember that opting for the cheapest insurance policy may leave you out of pocket if you need to make a claim. You should always check a policy meets your needs before you buy it, for example, ensure the possessions limit is the right value. If you were to lose all your luggage would the limit offered by your policy allow you to buy everything you have lost? If not then it may be worth paying extra to make sure everything would be covered.
As great as the new ATOL changes are for travellers, nothing can take the place of a comprehensive travel insurance policy for real peace of mind.