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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 (FCO) advised against all non-essential international travel for an indefinite period.

If you choose to travel overseas to a destination while the FCO has advised against non-essential travel, then your insurance policy will be invalid, and any claim likely to be rejected. 

For domestic travel, please check the local public health rules for the destination you wish to travel to within the United Kingdom. 

We will continually review the situation, and update our service in the future, in accordance with the latest FCO or UK Government restrictions on travel. 

For more information, please see our Coronavirus and travel insurance page.

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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