Compare cancellation cover travel insurance

No one wants to cancel their holiday. But if you ever have to, holiday cancellation insurance can at least help make sure you don’t lose out on the money you’ve paid for it. 

No one wants to cancel their holiday. But if you ever have to, holiday cancellation insurance can at least help make sure you don’t lose out on the money you’ve paid for it. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - From 4am on Monday 1st November, all countries will be removed from the UK red list. You still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through as they can change at short notice, check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information or find out more here.

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
minute read
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Posted 18 JANUARY 2021

What is holiday cancellation insurance?

Holiday cancellation insurance is a clause within a travel policy that can help if the unexpected happens and you have to cancel your holiday at the last minute. You might fall ill, for example, suffer a sudden bereavement, or have an accident that leaves you unable to travel.

Cancellation insurance should pay out if your trip is cancelled or cut short due to any of the reasons specified in your policy. It’s one of the key elements of your travel insurance, and it can be a lifesaver if the worst happens and you have to cancel your trip.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. 

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

What does holiday cancellation insurance cover?

Holiday cancellation insurance policies tend to cover the cost of pre-booked flights and transport, accommodation, and any other agreed expenses you can’t recover from any other source because of a last-minute change of plans.

To qualify for a travel cancellation insurance pay-out, the circumstances must be “unforeseen” or out of your control, which usually means events like:

  • Natural disasters
  • Flood, fire or burglary at your home shortly before your departure date
  • Accident or illness
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Jury duty
  • Redundancy
  • Travel destination becomes unsafe.

You may also be covered if you, or one of the people you are travelling with, becomes pregnant after you bought the policy, or if a doctor recommends not travelling because of pregnancy complications. Armed forces personnel may also be covered if you’re ordered to return to duty before your trip.

If you can cancel your insurance without having to pay a fee to the holiday company or airline, then you won’t be able to claim on your insurance as you won’t be out of pocket.

Typically, cancellation cover is included in travel insurance policies. But the terms and amount of cover can vary from policy to policy and provider to provider.

Check the wording of your policy carefully so you know what circumstances are covered.

You’ll usually be covered for the costs of:

  • Travel and accommodation that you’ve agreed to pay for under contract
  • Activities and excursions you’ve already paid for, or are contracted to pay for because you’ve booked them. There may be an upper limit per excursion on the amount your insurance provider will pay.

Don’t forget, you’ll need to factor in the excess stated in your travel policy. Typically, this is subtracted from the payment the insurer makes to you.

Please note: Some providers have limited their holiday cancellation cover on policies purchased after 11 March 2020, when Covid-19 was officially recognised as a pandemic.

Now, it's likely that holiday cancellation claims concerning Covid-19 will be omitted from any travel insurance policy. That's because Covid-19 is considered a 'known event' that travellers are aware of.

What does holiday cancellation insurance NOT cover?

Holiday cancellation insurance does not cover you if you decide you no longer want to go on holiday, for no reason aside from changing your mind.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to go on a holiday, finding someone to take your place can be cheaper than cancelling. Contact the company to transfer the holiday and give the other person’s details. They should make the transfer at a reasonable cost.

Also, you won’t be covered if you try to claim for cancellation because of:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions that you didn’t declare or that the insurance provider has said they won’t cover. You should declare all pre-existing medical conditions of other people travelling with you who are named on the policy. For example, this may include a close relative or elderly parent.
  • Circumstances you knew about before you bought the policy. For example, an airline strike or the illness of a close relative.
  • Injuries because of alcohol or drugs.

Airport taxes and air passenger duty don’t tend to be covered, either.

To find out exactly what is and isn’t covered, always check with individual insurance providers.

Want to make sure you get your money back on your holiday if the worst happens? Then you’ll need holiday cancellation cover as part of your  travel insurance.

Do I need cancellation travel insurance?

Cancellation travel insurance isn’t compulsory, but it could mean you won’t be out of pocket if you have to cancel your trip. Weigh up the cost of the insurance and peace of mind it could give you, against how much money you might lose if the worst happens, to help you decide if it’s right for you.

How much cover will cancellation cover give me?

It depends on the policy. The maximum cover limit varies between different insurance providers. The amount you need will be based around how much you paid for your holiday. When you get a quote with Compare the Market, you have the option to compare all cancellation cover limits and maximum amounts, ranging from £1,500 to £7,500.

Make sure you choose the right level of cover. Otherwise you could either be paying for cover you don’t need, or you might not have enough cover if you need to claim.

What if my airline company cancels my travel plans?

If your flight is cancelled or delayed by more than three hours, your airline should compensate you. To see what your airline expects you to do to make a claim, check their website or call them.

Your travel insurance policy may cover you, if your flight is cancelled and the airline doesn’t rebook you on an alternative flight within 24 hours.

See more about whether travel insurance covers cancelled flights. You can also check out the advice about what to do if your holiday company goes bust.

How much notice do I need to give before cancelling my holiday and claiming?

You can cancel any time before the start of the trip. Any cancellation fees should be in the terms and conditions of your holiday booking. They tend to be higher the closer you get to your departure date. 

What’s the difference between cancellation cover and curtailment cover?

Curtailment cover is for when you’ve already started your holiday and you have to cut it short. You can usually claim for the same reasons as cancellation cover. Cancellation cover applies when you haven’t yet started your trip. With curtailment cover, your claim is based on the number of days you haven’t used, not your entire holiday.

How do I claim for holiday cancellation?  

As soon as you know you need to cancel your holiday, you should get in touch with your insurance provider. They can help guide you through the claims process.

You can also check the policy documents that you were sent, when you bought your insurance, for advice on how to claim.

You’ll need to provide evidence to make your claim. This can include things like:

  • Cancellation invoices
  • Unused tickets and excursion booking receipts
  • Medical documents if cancelling because of illness or injury
  • A death certificate if necessary

Any other documentation that your insurance provider might require.

You won’t be covered for any extra costs resulting from your failure to promptly inform the holiday company of your need to cancel, as soon as you know you need to cancel.

The holiday company or airline should only charge you for the amount they lose, and they should try to sell the holiday to someone else. If you think they’re charging too much, ask how they worked out the cancellation fee.

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