In a boost to consumer rights, the ATOL holiday protection scheme will extend to travel booked online; the changes will apply from 2018. It means that sunseekers booking separate flights, hotels and car hire within 24 hours won’t find themselves out of pocket if their travel firm goes bust. The amendment brings the UK in line with European directives and will hopefully offer peace of mind to travellers shopping online for the best deals.
The extension of ATOL protection is a sign of the times as more than three quarters (76%) of us booked our holiday online last year, compared to a mere 19% who walked into a high-street travel agent and made a booking.
Known as the ‘ATOL Bill’ the legislation will also allow the government to be flexible in ensuring that consumers are covered financially for a variety of holiday products and scenarios. Transport Minister John Hayes says:
‘This change will make the law fit for the modern age – and better able to adapt to any future advances in the technology that people use to book their getaway.’
ATOL was established in 1973 and ensures that British holidaymakers aren’t left stranded abroad or lose money if their tour operator collapses. By law, all UK-based travel agencies selling flights and package holidays by air must be part of the scheme. At the moment, travel firms contribute £2.50 per passenger to an ATOL fund, from which customers are reimbursed when necessary.
But while ATOL will protect your holiday, what about you and your luggage? And what happens if an emergency arises? Well, that’s when your travel insurance kicks in. It can cover a whole host of holiday mishaps, such as lost or stolen baggage, delays and, most importantly, medical treatment. And if you’re off to Europe, don’t just think an EHIC will be enough to see you patched up – because it might not be.
Holidays are all about having fun in the sun, and the last thing you want to think about is stuff going wrong. But taking out travel insurance isn’t about tempting the shadowy hand of doom, it’s simply being sensible – because little surprises can and do happen (and they aren’t always nice ones). So, put your mind at rest and make sure travel insurance is numero uno on your holiday checklist.