British Holidaymakers are having a rough year. Ryanair cancelled 315,000 bookings after it messed up pilots’ rotas in September and then revealed it is cancelling almost 20,000 routes between November 2017 and March 2018, which will affect another 400,000 people.
And the collapse of airline and travel operator Monarch hit hundreds of thousands more Brits. Some are stuck abroad and 300,000 have had bookings cancelled.
These are the situations many people buy travel insurance for. However, if you’ve been affected by a Ryanair or Monarch cancellation, making a travel insurance claim may not be your first port of call. In fact, many standard travel insurance policies may not even cover these cancellations.
Check out our list of the best travel insurance policies - many include airline failure cover.
Ryanair flight cancellations
Ryanair has admitted it is at fault for the cancellations and it is still in operation, which means it is legally obligated to pay compensation and should be the first place you go to cover your costs.
If you’ve been affected, the company should refund the cost of your flights or pay for flights with another airline that is going to your destination.
You should not be afraid to contact your travel insurer if you are confused about what is covered but because Ryanair will cover your costs, they are likely to tell you to contact the airline.
Travel insurance is not designed for this sort of cancellation. If you have cancellation cover it should pay out if you cannot go on a trip because you, a close relative or someone else on the trip falls ill or dies. Insurers all have their own conditions but other accepted reasons for cancellation include things like being called for jury service or being made redundant.
Abandonment cover works in a similar way but pays out if you have to cut a trip short.
However, there may be some circumstances in which travel insurance can help.
“If passengers are experiencing additional costs which for some reason Ryanair is refusing to cover they may be able to make claims on a travel insurance policy, but this may depend on the level of cover they bought. Clearly, the first port of call must be Ryanair itself,” says Mark Shepherd, head of property, commercial and specialist lines at the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
As Mark says, it may depend on whether you have bought cancellation cover (it can be an optional extra) and your policy limits.
Contact your insurer to see if they can help. Even if they can’t, the best companies may be able to recommend how you should go about getting compensation from Ryanair.
Ryanair has published a list of routes and flights that are cancelled on its website.
Monarch flight cancellations
Monarch’s cancellations are different because they are the result of the company falling into administration.
Travel insurance can cover cancellations or costs you incur if an airline or another ‘supplier’ (a hotel, for example) goes bust and can’t deliver a service you’ve paid for.
This cover is often sold as an optional extra and may be called something like ‘supplier failure insurance’ or ‘scheduled airline failure insurance’. In LV’s policy documents, it’s referred to as ‘financial failure’.
If want to check if you’re covered it’s worth searching for those terms the insurer’s policy documents.
Be aware that few insurers offer it as standard on their basic policies.
Some of the companies in our list of the best travel insurers will cover supplier failure. Direct Line can cover airline failure as standard on all its policies whereas you have to have higher levels of cover from Axa and LV, but they may also cover other supplier failures
Once again, insurers may ask you to try to get your money back from the supplier or your credit card company before you make a claim because policies tend to pay out if the money can’t be recovered from other sources.
In the case of Monarch, insurers may ask you to approach the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), your credit card company (if you booked by card) or your travel agent (if you booked with an agency).
For holidaymakers who are already abroad, the CAA will arrange new flights to get them home at the end of their holiday at no extra cost.
If you cannot get money back from these places or you end up with extra costs, travel insurance with supplier failure may be able to help.
Again, if you’re concerned about your cover, get in touch with your insurer. There may be a cut off for when you can claim, which is worth finding out if your insurer expects you to go to other sources first for compensation.
The travel insurance Monarch offered did not include airline or supplier failure, so if you booked a holiday and insurance through the company it is unlikely to pay out. However, Monarch travel insurance policies that have not expired are still live and can be used for other trips.
Some customers who booked a package of flight with Monarch before 14 December 2016, may be covered under the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (Atol) scheme. But they’ll be asked to try to get their money back from their credit card provider first.
Holiday insurance cancellation – what you need to know
- Supplier failure may only be covered if you buy a premium policy or an add-on
- Your insurer may expect you to exhaust all other sources of compensation before it will pay out
- Standard cancellation cover is unlikely to pay out if an airline cancels your flights
- Cancellation and supplier failure cover kick in when your policy starts so if you plan to buy travel insurance on the day of your trip they won’t be much use
- Check if there is a time limit on claims for supplier failure or cancellation