Beat the five worst holiday disasters
Filed under: Holidays
Fortunately, you can make the right preparations, so that if disaster strikes it doesn't end up being the worst fortnight of your year. So what are the top five holiday disasters, and what can you do?
Travel Insurance Tips
Your travel plans fall throughThe biggest fear is what happens if you never actually make it to your destination - or you can't get home? This used to be dominated by fears of getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. However, in the current environment it's not impossible that industrial action will leave you stranded.
Travel Insurance Tips
If you are a victim of a strike, or any other event beyond the airline's control (including ash clouds!), they must offer you a refund (in which case it's up to you to find a way home) or an alternative flight. While you are waiting for the flight you have the right to food and refreshment and accommodation. If you are on a package holiday, your tour operator is entirely responsible for looking after you until you get back to the UK.
If you have travel insurance, as long as you had no way of knowing it was coming, you should be covered for a strike (although policies differ) and experience has shown that if the event is outside those listed on your policies your travel insurer may still pay out as a gesture of goodwill.
Christian Young, director of AA Travel Insurance says:"Travel insurance can and does help people in such situations although no insurer will meet a claim if the cover is taken out after the strike action is confirmed. The first step should always be to talk to your airline and/or travel agent to attempt to find alternative travel arrangements or re-arrange the holiday for a later date, in which case the insurance can be transferred to the new date or destination. Delay and cancellation will be covered up to specified amounts."
Your insurance should also come to your rescue if you are stuck in traffic - as long as this is genuine and unexpected traffic. Check your policy so you're familiar with the rules before you travel.
Your airline goes bustThis is much more likely since the worldwide financial crisis that brought a number of companies to their knees. In this case if you booked flights with a credit card and the purchase is over £100, your card provider will refund the cost. Otherwise, if you booked through a travel agent or website that is a member of ATOL then you are entitled to a full refund, although check with the site or agent what their rules are as some will not refund budget flights.
You can check your travel insurance to see if you are covered. Young says that the financial failure element of your travel insurance policy, which is automatically included, should provide cover if no ABTA or other compensation is available.
Your luggage goes astrayCheck if the luggage is completely lost or just gone astray. Talk to the airline, and if it is temporarily misplaced they should arrange for it to be sent to your accommodation, and you should be either given cash to cover the essentials in the interim, or you will be asked to collect receipts and send them to the airline - but don't go mad!.
If it is completely lost you have to wait 21 days and then make a claim for compensation. If you are travelling as part of a package you can claim costs from your operator. Otherwise, the airline will pay up to £900, so if you have insurance this is usually your best bet. Check what your limits are before you travel to make sure you have all the cover you need for your valuables.
Lee Mooney, Head of Home and Travel Insurance at The Co-operative, says that the average woman has £1,140 of clothes in her suitcase - in addition to a host of gadgets and other valuables. He says: "Bearing in mind this cost, it's worth making sure luggage is properly insured to give you peace of mind in case the worst happens and belongings are lost or stolen."
In the interim, you will need to buy the essentials and keep receipts so you can reclaim this later.
You get sickThis can be an incredibly expensive business. The average medical claim made by Britons who fall ill or have an accident in a foreign country now stands at a staggering £1,333.41 according to an analysis of 2010 claims data from Sainsbury's Travel Insurance
If you are travelling within the EU you need an EHIC card, which gives you access to public healthcare. However, this won't necessarily be free, and if you need extra services such as accommodation for a carer, a helicopter home or a delayed flight, you could end up seriously out of pocket.
The only protection that will guarantee you will be looked after without running up a horrendous debt is by having travel insurance - which often covers up to £10 million of costs.
You are robbedYou are fairly vulnerable on holiday. Whether you are travelling somewhere you don't know, keeping busy and losing track of your valuables, or staying somewhere that turns out to be less secure than you hoped, you can end up paying the price as your belongings are taken.
British holidaymakers estimate that they have had up to £1.7 billion worth of personal possessions stolen from them whilst on holiday abroad, over the last five years, according to research from Sainsbury's Travel Insurance.
The most common form of theft is pick-pocketing, followed by theft from a car and bag snatching. Meanwhile, 752,000 of those surveyed had items stolen from their hotel room or villa.
If you have anything stolen, your only protection is insurance. You need to tell the local police immediately and get a crime reference for your travel insurer. Scott Gorman, Sainsbury's Travel Insurance Manager, says: "Millions of British holidaymakers are jeopardising their chances of recouping the value of the possessions they've had stolen by failing to inform the local police about the theft. This means that they cannot then make a claim on their travel insurance, potentially leaving them out of pocket by hundreds or even thousands of pounds."
The five worst holiday disasters