The advice from various governments regarding which countries people can travel to and under what conditions is constantly changing. If you are forced to cancel your holiday plans but your provider isn’t playing fair, there may be other ways you can reclaim your money.
Your Cancellation Rights
In most cases, if you have already paid for a trip and the provider cancels it, you will be able to claim a full refund. However, given the sheer volume of canceled holidays this year and the amount of money that some travel firms are having to pay out, a lot of them are dragging their feet. It is also going to be difficult to compel most of these businesses to issue refunds right now as governments are wary of triggering a potential collapse of the travel industry.
However, while your legal rights are pretty clear cut when your holiday is canceled by the provider, things are more complicated when you are required to cancel yourself.
You aren’t usually automatically entitled to a refund if you cancel your own holiday. However, if you have to cancel your holiday because of advice from the government, then you won’t likely have to pay the usual cancellation fees associated with a canceled holiday.
Credit and Debit Card Protection
If you paid with a credit or debit card when you booked your holiday, then you might be able to pursue a refund through your card provider. Card providers offer something called a Section 75, as well as a chargeback service.
The chargeback isn’t a legal requirement, but it is something that most card issuers will be happy to do for you. Essentially, your card provider will try to get the money back from the travel firm's bank through which you booked your holiday. This only applies to purchases up to £100 if they are made on a debit card.
If you used a credit card to pay for your holiday, then you can claim for anything costing between £100 and £30,000 under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. However, it is usually better to save this as a last resort. Even if you qualify for a Section 75, it is better to ask for a chargeback first, as most banks are more amenable to doing this.
Many holidaymakers take out travel insurance when they book their holidays. Other people will receive complimentary travel insurance through their credit card provider. If you need to cancel a holiday, you won’t legally be entitled to a refund directly from your holiday provider or tour operator. However, your travel insurance might provide you with a route through which you can secure a refund.
As always, you need to check the details of your specific insurance policy to see what is and isn’t covered, as not every provider is the same. For example, travel insurance by Staysure is a good option if you want more reliable cancellation coverage. However, bear in mind cancellations may not be covered if FCO advice changes.
If all else fails, then you can always pursue a refund through the small claims court. In some cases, your insurer might tell you that you need to make a claim in a small claims court before you can approach them for a refund. However, given that going to court costs money, this should remain an option of last resort for most people.
Covid-19 has thrown many people’s holiday plans into disarray. All your usual holiday rights still apply, but the situation is very fluid. You should keep an ear out for the latest advice from the foreign office and be prepared to wait for any refund you might be entitled to.