13 ways to protect yourself against holiday chaos


EXHAUSTED and disappointed families sleeping on airport floors this week show how badly holidays can go wrong.

It also highlights how important it is for holidaymakers to have good travel insurance and know their rights before jetting off this summer.

Travel chaos has highlighted the importance of insurance


Travel chaos has highlighted the importance of insuranceCredit: Alamy
Ask the important questions before you buy your travel insurance


Ask the important questions before you buy your travel insurance

People are paying almost a third more for travel cover than they did before the pandemic — not only due to premium costs rising, but also because families want higher levels of protection.

Typically we paid an average of £40.34 for a single trip before Covid in April 2019, but that has now risen to £53.04, Travelsupermarket.com says.

Here is our guide to buying the best cover for your holiday.


ALMOST a third of people will travel uninsured this year, according to Compare The Market.

But that’s a huge mistake — as costs can quickly add up.

Jacqueline Jones, an Athens-based travel agent for Blue Sea Holidays, said: “I remember a case with a girl in her early 20s who had fallen asleep face down on a sunny beach and ended up with second-degree burns up her legs and on her bottom.

“She had to be flown back to the UK lying face down on a special medical stretcher. Her transport and treatment cost £28,000 and she didn’t have travel insurance, meaning her unfortunate parents had to foot the cost.”

Conversely, the Association of British Insurers told of how one UK traveller’s month-long private medical treatment in Spain following a fall and emergency medical repatriation to the UK came to £124,000 — which was paid for by their travel insurance.

I’m a baggage handler - the reason behind travel chaos & why it WON'T end soon
Urgent warning as travellers told NOT to arrive too early at busy airports


BUY your insurance as soon as you book your holiday, unless you already have an annual policy.

But don’t buy it as a pricey add-on from the airline or tour operator without checking for other quotes, as it will likely cost more and not meet your exact needs.

Check you don’t already have cover from your bank if you have a packaged account.


KNOWING your rights will help you avoid an expensive holiday mistake.

If you’ve booked a package holiday and it gets cancelled then you are entitled to a refund or replacement.

If you’ve booked a DIY holiday and, for example, your flight is cancelled, then you may be able to claim on your insurance for a refund on your hotel.


MOST people buy their insurance using a price comparison site such as Compare The Market, but don’t go for the cheapest option.

Florence Codjoe, personal finance editor at Money.co.uk, said: “Comparison sites have got a lot better at presenting key essential information that allows you to compare policies like-for-like, but don’t just rely on that.

“A number of websites measure the customer service offered by companies. Make sure you look at these ratings and read some of the reviews.”

Look at fairerfinance.com for customer happiness ratings.


YOUR policy should cover cancellation for redundancy, bereavement or serious illness, any medical treatment needed while you’re away, having to cut your trip short in an emergency and losing your belongings.

Check your chosen policy covers all these, and also its Covid clauses.

Most will pay out if you or a family member cannot travel due to testing Covid-positive or if you catch it on holiday.

Money Saving Expert has a cheap travel insurance finder tool to find basic cover, as well as top picks for additional cover, such as to cover the UK Government ordering another lockdown or changing its advice.

Remember no policy covers every possible corona­virus scenario, so it’s best to book as flexibly as possible, with flights you can easily cancel or rearrange.


READ the small print — or risk invalidating your cover.

One insurer, Flexicover, says families who need to do airport Covid tests before flying must turn up to the airport four hours before their departure time — a nightmare for families with young kids booked to fly at 7am.

Another important question is whether your insurer would pay for treatment at a private hospital — not all do. If that’s a must for you, call up and check.


CHECK what vaccines your travel insurer requires you to have and how it expects you to prove this, as well as the Foreign Office’s travel advice and your destination country’s own rules.

Paul Paddock, Post Office head of travel insurance, added: “A number of destinations (such as the US) still require a negative Covid test to gain entry which could result in a cancellation claim if a customer tests positive before travelling.”


BE honest with your insurer about your medical history, as covering anything up could invalidate your policy.

Contact the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) for help in finding a broker who can cover you with specific conditions.


MAKE sure you can afford the excess should you need to pay it.

Be aware some policies have separate excesses for different sections of the policy, meaning, for example, you’d have to pay it twice to claim for cash and luggage if your wallet and suitcase were stolen together.


SINGLE-TRIP policies tend to work out cheaper if you are taking just one or two trips in the next 12 months, but take three or more and annual cover is your best bet, says Which?


APPLY for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to get treatment in state hospitals at the same price as residents of the country you are visiting.

Remember it doesn’t necessarily mean treatment is free and it’s no replacement for travel insurance. Apply at nhs.uk.

Half-term holidays were cancelled at the last minute


Half-term holidays were cancelled at the last minuteCredit: LNP


ONCE you’ve got your insurance papers in place, don’t just chuck them in your suitcase.

Ms Jones said: “We get people with bad injuries ringing us in a terrible state of panic sometimes, saying, ‘Who am I insured with?’ As a travel agency we’ll do everything to help but we won’t know policy details if they’ve been bought separately.

“Save your policy number and contact number for your insurer in your phone and download Skype or WhatsApp to get free calls on wifi.

“Keep every receipt if you need to make a claim, and keep note of doctors’ names and police badges, in case it becomes a court case. Free speak-translate apps are also useful should you need to talk to nurses, doctors and police.”

You might also consider sharing your policy details with someone — such as a family member not on your trip — before you go.


CHECK your insurer’s rules about drinking. Some won’t cover you for “drinking too much”, others are more specific, warning for example against having four pints.

A general rule is not to drink to the point where your judgement is impaired.

If you plan sports activities, like water-skiing, bungee-jumping or even gentle ones like hiking or camel-riding, check they are covered.

Remember, leaving your items unattended will invalidate your ­policy.

‘We avoided paying out thousands after Crete horror crash’

Dean and wife Gemma were nearly killed in a car accident


Dean and wife Gemma were nearly killed in a car accidentCredit: SWNS

HGV driver Dean Fitton, 40, and his wife Gemma, 38, avoided bills totalling tens of thousands of pounds after being caught in a horror car crash in Crete – thanks to their travel insurance.

Last month, the couple were travelling in the wedding convoy of their friends Leon and Kirsty King, 40 and 29, when another car smashed theirs into pieces, leaving restaurant manager Gemma with a broken wrist and broken fifth lower vertebra.

At first they were taken to a local hospital, which they said was very dated and non-English-speaking, before being moved by their insurer to a private hospital and then airlifted home in a journey costing around £30,000.

If you get hurt in an accident you need to know your policy will pay out


If you get hurt in an accident you need to know your policy will pay outCredit: SWNS

Dean, a dad of four, from Snodland, Kent, said: “I can’t thank the insurers enough. They’ve been unreal and haven’t quibbled anything.

“The first hospital was just hell. When we got there they were pulling at Gemma’s arm while she was screaming in pain.

“I had my own injuries but I had to nurse Gemma myself on crutches rather than the nurses do it. They just came in and give pain relief every now and again. It was horrendous.

“After the insurance kicked in we were moved to a hospital that was more like NHS-standard, and we were so much better looked after.

“I can’t say enough how important it is to have decent travel insurance.”

Dean’s travel insurance was arranged through his packaged bank account with HSBC.

Trying to get mother-in-law home after cardiac arrest is ordeal

AMANDA Crewe, 60, from Winsford, Cheshire, was this week battling to get her mother-in-law Patricia* home after she suffered a cardiac arrest four weeks ago on the way back from Benidorm.

Retired cleaner Patricia, 80, from The Wirral, was taken to Elche hospital from Alicante-Elche airport just before she and five pals were due to fly back to Britain.

Travel agent Amanda said: “One of her friends called me to let me know what had happened but she didn’t know where she had been taken.

“We spent three hours calling the airport, police and hospitals to find out where she was. We didn’t even know if she was alive.

“Eventually we tracked her down to Elche hospital where she had been put in a Covid ward, which was horrific for an 80-year-old.

“She spent three weeks on that ward before being moved to a general one.”

Amanda went on: “Her insurer Staysure’s communication has been appalling.

“It’s been almost impossible to speak to anyone this week. There really needs to be better service.

“They’ve approved the claim so at least we know we won’t have to pay the cost of repatriation but we need to know when that will happen.

“When you take out travel insurance you’d really hope it will be better than this.”

Staysure said it was doing everything possible to get Patricia home safely and was arranging an air ambulance for her.

*Patricia’s name has been changed.

Next Post

Daily Podcast: Travel Agent Burnout

Skift Consider Great early morning from Skift. It is really Monday, May 23, in New York Metropolis. This is what you need to have to know about the company of vacation right now.&#13 Rashaad Jorden Today’s version of Skift’s day-to-day podcast discusses the operate overload at vacation businesses, the likely […]

You May Like