As the number of coronavirus cases increases around the world, many countries are restricting travel at very short notice to stop the virus spreading. On 23 March, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised all UK nationals against all but essential travel for three weeks, including UK travel as well as international.
Where does this leave you if you have already paid for your next trip?It’s a good idea to go directly to the person or company that you booked with to resolve any payment or refund issues. We’ve put together some useful information to help you understand your rights if you have to cancel or change your travel plans due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The FCO is currently advising against all international travel. This means that if you are due to travel in the next few weeks, your airline, travel agent or tour operator is likely to have cancelled your booking and either allow you to rebook for a future date, offer you credit or give you a refund.
Cancellation two-step check:
If your travel plans are for later in the year, FCO guidance may differ. The situation is changing constantly, so travel providers may want to wait and see what the FCO advice is nearer the time.
If your flight is cancelled, your airline should give you a refund and tell you how to apply for it. Or they may give you the option to rebook for a later date. If they are unable/unwilling to refund you then we may be able to make a claim on your behalf.
When the FCO advises against all but essential travel to a region or country, you may be able to claim under the cancellation or travel disruption terms of your travel insurance policy. Every policy will be different so it’s important you check what cover you have and what you can claim.
Many insurance policies will no longer cover coronavirus for future bookings. So if you have an existing travel insurance policy, check with your provider to see if they have introduced any restrictions. If you are looking for a new policy, check to see if disruption due to coronavirus is included in the cover you are buying.
It is still important to take out travel insurance when you book any trips to cover you for future events.
If there is no FCO warning in place for your destination when you are due to travel, and your flights, accommodation, etc. are all running as normal, you are unlikely to get a refund if you don’t want to travel. Also, travel insurance will not cover ‘disinclination to travel’.
However, if you have received medical advice not to travel due to your health or if you are in an ‘at risk’ group, then you may be able to get a refund and/or claim on your travel insurance. Speak to your travel provider or insurer for more information. Alternatively check the terms and conditions to see whether you have the right to cancel and receive a refund.
If you paid on a credit or debit card, you can raise a payment dispute. You can make a claim if you believe that you have paid for an item or service that has not been delivered or was not as described. If you have a card with us, find out more about payment disputes here.
If you are struggling to get a refund, you do have some protection if you paid using a credit card. Most credit card purchases are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 which means that your credit card provider may be able to give you a refund. You can make a claim if you’ve bought an item or service that is not delivered on time or is sub-standard. However it only covers items and services valued between £100 and £30,000.
You can find out more about Section 75 and how to make a claim if you have a card with us here.