Package holidays vs independently booked travel
Did you know that booking a package holiday or booking elements of your holiday independently can affect the level of travel insurance cover you may require?
A recent survey of 27,000 Brits has found that an increased number of holiday makers are returning to travel agents to book their holidays, rather than booking independently online.
The TravelVision survey, conducted by the British Travel Awards, found that 18% of respondents said that they would use a travel agent for advice and to book their holiday. This is up from 13% in 2009.
It appears that UK holiday makers are seeking the extra protection and security offered by a package holiday. This could be due to several high profile travel companies ceasing trading over the last few years and the volcanic ash crisis last April.
When you book a package holiday your holiday, and your money, is protected by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 which require organisers of package holidays to provide protection for your money and to bring you home if necessary. A package holiday is a holiday that consists of two or more elements, e.g. transport and accommodation, that are sold to you as a package at an inclusive price.
When you book elements of your holiday independently, you don't receive the same level of financial protection, so you should consider some of the optional extras that are available when buying travel insurance to add to your cover.
For instance, if you have booked a package holiday including flights and the airline ceases trading your money should be protected under the ATOL (Air Travel Operators License) scheme, this means that you would be able to apply to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to get your money back.
If you have booked a flight direct with an airline and/or booked the other elements of your holiday separately they will not be protected under the ATOL scheme and you may want to add cover for scheduled airline failure to your travel insurance policy.
Disruption to travel due to airport and/or airspace closure has also been in the news in the last 12 months, with the chaos caused by the volcanic ash cloud crisis in April 2010. When you have a package holiday, it is the responsibility of your tour operator or travel agent to make alternative arrangements for your holiday or offer a refund if they are unable to fulfil your holiday as originally booked.
If you have booked independently you should consider adding Natural Catastrophe cover to your travel insurance policy which can provide financial protection for this type of event.