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Government advises against all but essential international travel: your refund rights

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17/03/2020
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British nationals against all but essential international travel for the next 30 days. Here’s what you need to know if you’re due to head overseas.

As the FCO has issued this advisory note against overseas travel with immediate effect for the next 30 days, consumers should be protected, as long as they have travel insurance.

But individual policies will vary so you need to check the small print.

If you have ‘travel disruption cover’ or ‘cancellation due to FCO restrictions’, you should be reimbursed for the lost costs associated if you’re advised not to travel. These policies should also help you return back to the UK if you are advised to do so.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: “This unprecedented step actually provides welcome clarity for our customers and the industry. Generally insurance cancellation or travel disruption will relate to FCO advice. This decision will therefore allow policyholders with cancellation or travel disruption cover in place to claim for cancelled trips that were already booked and cannot now go ahead.”

Anyone actively trying to travel to an area which has a travel restriction imposed by the FCO would now risk invalidating their travel policy. And those ignoring government advice against all but essential travel are also likely to invalidate their travel insurance.

If you’ve booked a holiday and it has ATOL protection, this won’t compensate you as it relates to the failure of providers of package holidays, not for a major medical outbreak like coronavirus, according to travel trade body, ABTA.

Holidaymakers should also speak to hotels, car hire firms and airlines to request a refund, particularly if no travel insurance is in place.

Airlines are still operating flights and a number are being more flexible when it comes to re-booking travel dates. If your flight has been cancelled, then your airline should offer you the choice of a full refund or alternative flights.

However, due to the current situation, alternative flights may not be practical to organise.

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