June 18, 2024

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Expert reveals how travel insurance can help with strikes and travel disruption

From severe weather warnings to strikes – Kelly Johnstone explains your rights if you’ve been caught out by recent travel disruption

The UK is experiencing more than usual travel disruption at the moment due to staff shortages, delays, strikes and natural disasters.

If you’ve got a holiday coming up, the thought of a cancelled or delayed flight can be worrying, Kelly Johnstone at Avanti Travel Insurance explains everything you need to know about how your what rights you are entitled to and how travel insurance can help.

What do I do if my flight is cancelled?

When faced with travel disruption, your first port of call should be to contact your holiday providers. Travel providers, such as airlines and cruise lines, should offer you a refund or the chance to change the dates you travel if they cancel your booking.

If the dates you’re due to travel change, remember to update your travel insurance policy.  Remember, if you’re changing your travel dates, you’ll need to do this before you were originally meant to travel.

What if my travel providers can’t help?

If you’ve contacted your travel providers and they can’t help rearrange your travel or offer a refund, you may be able to file a ‘chargeback claim’ with your bank if you paid using a credit card.

If you’ve tried both of these options without any luck, then you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. Cover often differs between outgoing and return flights, so make sure to check your policy documents.

What do I do if my flight is delayed?

If your flight is ‘significantly delayed’ your airline is required to provide you with care and assistance.

The kind of support and compensation you’ll receive depends on how long your wait is and how far you’re traveling. You can easily find out if you qualify for support or compensation by checking the CAA website.

If there’s a significant delay to your flight, your airline should offer:

  • To cover your food and drinks, often given through vouchers.
  • The chance to make necessary phone calls, and they’ll typically reimburse your call expenses.
  • Arrange accommodation if your flight is delayed overnight.
  • Organise transport to and from your accommodation, or even back home if you’re nearby.

If, for some reason, the airline can’t provide these services due to staff shortages, don’t worry — you should be able to claim for reasonable expenses. Just check your airline’s policy to understand what they define as reasonable.

You may also be able to make a compensation claim through your travel insurance. Check out the ‘Travel Delay’ section in your policy wording to understand what’s covered.

And remember, if your return journey to the UK is delayed as well, your policy will automatically extend to cover the extra time you need to get home. So rest assured, you’re covered!

Am I covered for natural disasters?

Natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or wildfires can have a huge impact on your travel plans. So you wouldn’t be blamed for wondering whether your travel insurance covers these types of events.

What can you do if your trip is impacted?

Contact your providers to see what support they can give. The first thing to do is see what your travel and holiday providers can do. They may refund or rebook your trip or help you with reassurance that your journey won’t be disrupted.

If you’re already on holiday and your flight or accommodation is cancelled, your providers should be able to help you return home or help you find a different place to stay.

If your travel provider can’t help you reschedule or refund your costs, contact your bank. If you’ve paid for your trip using a credit card, you might be able to recoup your costs through a ‘chargeback claim’.

If neither of these work, you can make a claim on your travel insurance

Can I be covered for strikes?

You should be covered by your travel insurance if strikes affect your travel plans, as long as the strike wasn’t common knowledge when you booked your trip or took out your policy (whichever was later).

Read your policy documents for what’s covered, and what’s not.

What if I need to cancel my accommodation?

You may be able to claim on your travel insurance for non-refundable accommodation if your flights are cancelled by the airline. Make sure to speak to your travel provider or bank (if you paid using a credit card) first. You can also find advice on the FCDO website.

Terrorist incidents when you’re about to travel

If you’re about to travel to an area where the FCDO have advised against all, or all but essential travel due to terrorism – contact your airline or travel provider as soon as possible. They’ll be able to let you know if you can rearrange your trip, they may even offer a refund.

If you do go ahead and rearrange your trip, you can update your travel insurance policy.

How can I make travelling as smooth as possible?

The best way to make your trip less stressful is to plan ahead:

  1. Get all your travel documents ready as soon as possible.
  2. Once you’ve booked your holiday, take out holiday insurance. This can help protect against cancellations before you’re due to travel and will be there if something goes wrong during your trip.
  3. When it’s time to go away, leave extra time for potential delays and keep up to date with your travel providers. You can check flight/ferry and traffic information before you set off, and strikes are usually planned for specific days.
  4. Arrive at the airport early. Once you arrive, make sure you have all of your documents ready to go and liquids in a separate clear bag.