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What is ATOL protection?

What is ATOL protection?

ATOL protection ensures your holiday is covered if the company you have booked it with goes bust. This helps to ensure that you aren’t stuck abroad if an issue happens while you’re away, for example, but it’s important to stress that ATOL protection is not a substitute for travel insurance… 

Patrick Ikhena
From the Travel team
minute read
posted 28 JANUARY 2020

What does it mean if my holiday is ATOL-protected?

ATOL protection safeguards your money if your travel company or airline goes out of business. If they go bust before your holiday starts, you’ll get a refund. If your travel company goes out of business while you’re away, ATOL protection means you can finish your holiday and get home safely.

ATOL (which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s License) covers any overseas holidays where you booked a flight and accommodation, flights and car hire, or everything together. It also protects the money you’ve paid for flights to or from the UK. If an airline fails and they’re ATOL protected, your travel company will have to find you alternative flights or give you your money back.

ATOL has been in action since 1973.


On 4 April 2020, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all non-essential travel overseas for an indefinite period. In this unprecedented time, we are temporarily not providing travel insurance comparisons for trips outside the UK, until we have complete confidence we can get you a policy to meet your needs.
As of 23rd March 2020, the UK Government announced a series of restrictions to travel, public spaces and gatherings. For a minimum of three weeks, people are being instructed to stay at home whenever possible. For this reason, travel insurance policies purchased from this date, for trips within the UK with a start date before 13th April 2020, will not be valid.
The UK Government also instructed all British tourists and travellers, that are currently abroad, to return to the UK as soon as possible.
Coronavirus was declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020, so this may also affect your policy, particularly those taken out on or after that date. Please check any existing policies carefully, to find out what you’re covered for.

For more information please see our travel insurance and coronavirus pages.

Are all my trips ATOL protected?

All trips should be ATOL protected, in the UK at least. Every travel company in the UK has to have ATOL protection, for which they pay £2.50 into the scheme per person booked on to a holiday. As a consumer, it costs you nothing.

But just because it’s legally required, that doesn’t mean that all companies have it. Always look for the ATOL logo before you book and ask the company if you aren’t sure.

Booking with a travel firm based somewhere else in Europe is different – they’re under no obligation to provide ATOL protection or ABTA insurance.

EU legislation does say they have to provide protection for your money, but it’s down to the protection authority in that country. Check with the Civil Aviation Authority to see if your travel company has ATOL protection.   

If my holiday is ATOL-protected, why do I need travel insurance as well?

ATOL may cover you if your holiday company goes bust, but it won’t cover you for lots of other things that give you peace of mind when you travel – things like losing your bags, getting injured or ill abroad or having to cancel your plans because of a family emergency or other unforeseen events.  

So getting travel insurance for any trip, especially if you’re heading abroad, is highly recommended.   

Once you’ve booked your trip, don’t forget your travel insurance. ATOL doesn’t cover everything, so compare quotes today and save. 

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