By Sean Campbell
From face-to-face bookings in travel agent offices to cutting out newspaper coupons to Teletext adverts to online comparison sites — the way we book our holidays has changed considerably over the years.
As evidenced by the fall of Thomas Cook, a true titan of travel with a 178-year history, more people are moving away from booking a package holiday and organising their getaways online.
The travel agent trade body ABTA states that as few as one in seven now book via high street travel agencies 1 and that those who do tend to be over 65.
Customers are effectively their travel agents now: review sites serve as their brochures and comparison sites give full access to information previously available to the person sat at the other side of the desk. But, how can you make sure your DIY trip is protected should anything go wrong?
What is ‘ATOL protected’?
We’ve all heard ‘ATOL protected’ at the end of travel adverts, but as important as it is to have this protection, it doesn’t cover everything that can go wrong during the process of booking and going on a holiday.
ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser's Licence. It’s a government-run financial protection scheme operated by the Civil Aviation Authority. In layman’s terms, it’s a guarantee that you don't lose the money you paid out or become stranded abroad if your travel company collapses.
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While those with deals booked through Thomas Cook will be relying on this to recover their money, ATOL won’t help if you have to cancel a trip owing to a personal emergency, your belongings get lost or stolen, or if you have an accident or become ill while away.
What travel insurance covers
Most insurers offer single trip and annual multi-trip policies. These both include cover for UK breaks, provided there are two consecutive nights of pre-booked accommodation, meaning ‘staycationers’ can enjoy peace of mind as well as those jetting off across the globe.
Our standard travel cover provides up to £10million towards emergencies such as medical treatment, dental pain relief and flight costs for repatriation. It also covers up to £5,000 if you need to cancel or abandon your trip, including £250 towards prepaid excursions.
It also provides up to £750 towards emergency travel documents, up to £400 towards lost or stolen cash or banknotes and compensation for delayed baggage is also included up to £150.
Optional extras are available for damage to baggage, flight disruption, winter sports and more. Cover can be tailored to your specific needs so you have the right cover in place for you.
What to tell your insurer about your health
Our research reveals that less than half of UK adults (47%) would tell their insurer about an existing medical condition when buying cover, but this can invalidate their insurance.
If you have travel insurance through your bank or as an annual policy which renews automatically, it’s crucial to check your cover at renewal and inform your insurance provider if anything has changed.
Wherever you choose to visit, you must read and understand your policy documents, terms and conditions.