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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.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
4
minute read
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Posted 6 DECEMBER 2019 Last Updated 13 JUNE 2022

What is holiday cancellation insurance?

Holiday cancellation insurance can cover you if your trip is cancelled or cut short because of a reason specified in your policy – for example, you fall ill, suffer a bereavement or have an accident and find yourself unable to travel. It isn’t compulsory to have but is advisable - it’s one of the key elements of your travel insurance, and can be a lifesaver if you have to call off your trip.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

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 usually cover the cost of:

  • Pre-booked flights and transfers
  • Accommodation
  • Activities and excursions you’ve already paid for or are obliged to pay for now you’ve booked.

There may be an upper limit on how much your insurance provider will pay out.

It’s sensible to buy your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. That way you’re covered as soon as you’ve paid money towards your trip.

When can I make a cancellation claim on my travel insurance? 

To qualify for a travel cancellation insurance pay-out, the circumstances must be ‘unforeseen’ or out of your control. This usually means events such as:

  • Flood, fire or burglary at home
  • Accident or illness
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Jury duty
  •  Redundancy
  • Safety risks at your destination.

You may also be covered if you or someone you’re travelling with falls pregnant after you bought the policy, or a doctor advises against travel because of pregnancy complications. If you’re in the Armed Forces, you may be covered if you’re ordered to return to duty before your trip.

If you can cancel your trip without paying, you can’t claim on your insurance as you won’t be out of pocket.

Most travel insurance policies include cancellation cover as standard. But terms and cover levels vary between policies and insurance providers. Check your policy wording carefully so you know what’s covered.
 
Don’t forget, you’ll need to factor in any excess you’ll have to pay towards a claim. This is usually deducted from any pay-out you receive.

Will my insurance pay out if I have to cancel due to Covid? 

Many travel insurance policies now include cover for disruption caused by Covid-19, including cover for cancelling because you or a member of your party gets coronavirus. You can see what coronavirus cover is offered when you compare with us – just select the ‘more details’ button next to each quote.

What won’t holiday cancellation insurance cover?

Holiday cancellation insurance won’t cover you if you simply decide you don’t want to go.

If you change your mind about going on holiday, it can be cheaper to find someone to take your place than to cancel. Contact the travel company, which should be able to transfer the holiday at a reasonable cost.

You also won’t be covered if you cancel because of: 

  • Pre-existing medical conditions you didn’t declare, or that your insurance provider won’t cover. If the people you’re travelling with are named on your policy, you’ll need to declare their pre-existing medical conditions too. 
  • Circumstances you knew about before you bought the policy. For example, an airline strike or close relative’s illness.
  • Injuries resulting from the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Airport taxes and air passenger duty aren’t usually covered either. 

To find out what is and isn’t covered, check with your insurance provider.

Want to make sure your costs are covered if you have to cancel your holiday? Then you’ll need holiday cancellation cover as part of your  travel insurance.

How much protection will cancellation cover give me?

How much cover you’ll receive will depend on your policy. Cover limits vary between insurance providers, and how much you’ll need will depend on how much you paid for your holiday. When you get a quote with Compare the Market, you can compare cancellation cover limits ranging from £750 to £7,500.

Always choose the right level of cover. Otherwise you could end up paying for insurance you don’t need, or find you don’t have enough cover if you need to claim.

What if the airline cancels my travel plans?

If your flight is cancelled or delayed by more than three hours, the airline should pay you compensation. Depending on where you’re flying to, and if the delay was the airline’s fault, you could be owed up to £520. 

To find out how to claim, check your airline’s website.

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

See more about whether travel insurance covers cancelled flights. You can also see 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 your trip begins. You’ll find details of any fees in your booking’s terms and conditions. You may find these increase 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 started your holiday and have to cut it short. You can usually claim for the same reasons as cancellation cover. Cancellation cover applies when you haven’t started your trip. With curtailment cover, you’ll be compensated for the number of days you haven’t used, not your entire holiday.

How do I claim for holiday cancellation?  

Get in touch with your insurance provider as soon as you know you need to cancel. They can guide you through the claims process. You can also check your policy documents for advice on how to claim.

To make your claim, you’ll need to provide evidence. This could include:

  • Invoices
  • Unused tickets and booking receipts
  • Medical documents
  •  A death certificate
  • Any other documents your insurance provider might require.

If you don’t promptly tell your holiday company you need to cancel, you won’t be covered for any extra resulting costs.

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

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