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Your rights if you have a holiday booked during the coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05 29 February 2020

Passengers have been repatriated to the UK from a cruise ship - Resolver discusses your rights if you've booked a holiday. Picture: DannyLawson/PAImages

Passengers have been repatriated to the UK from a cruise ship - Resolver discusses your rights if you've booked a holiday. Picture: DannyLawson/PAImages

PA Wire/PA Images

Booked a holiday but not sure if you can get your cash back?

Complaints expert Resolver has issued advice on what your rights are, and how to get your funds returned.

As the impact of the coronavirus has dominated headlines this year and despite a fair bit of fake news there are some very real reasons to be concerned about the potential pandemic.

Coronavirus - now know as "COVID-19 virus" officially - is hard to detect at first and little is known at the moment about how 'contractable' it is.

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However, people booked to travel on holiday are understandably confused about their rights and whether they should cancel their trips.

Here's our guide to the current situation. Like any fast-moving story, the key thing to remember is to keep an eye on the news and the updates on Government websites.

- I've booked a holiday but I want to cancel

Even if you're not travelling in the next few weeks, this will become and issue when you do come to take a holiday, depending on how the virus spreads.

You have a few main options to look at:

1) Your travel insurance policy

2) Your holiday booking company

3) Your airline

4) Your hotel

- Travel insurance

Travel insurance companies do have clauses relating to not being able to travel due to pandemics and other events where there's a significant risk.

However, the vast majority tend to rely on the advice on the Foreign Office website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

If the FCO advises against 'all but essential travel' to where you're going, you should be able to claim a full refund, though your insurer may want you to explore the refund options through the holiday company and airline too.

But this is where things get tricky. If there are outbreaks or places have been 'locked down' unless the FCO specifically advises against travel, you may not be able to claim (though you should always try!)

This includes advice for returning travellers. So if you've been asked to 'self-isolate' after a holiday, this doesn't count as being told not to travel to the country or destination.

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- So does that mean I'll lose my cash?

Not necessarily. Travel insurance includes clauses for cancellation. So if your doctor says you can't travel due to illness, for example, you can usually claim.

Now is the time to dig out the policy and look through it though to see what you're covered for. Speak to the insurer too so you can find out your options.

- What else can I do?

Be flexible.

Your rights to cancel and get refunds from holiday companies, travel agents and airlines all vary so check 'em out now before the holiday is upon you.

If you don't want to go and the terms aren't in your favour, why not come up with an alternative solution?

You may be able to transfer your flight to another destination or date further in the future, so you don't lose your money completely if you decide not to travel.

There will usually be a fee for this, however. Some airlines are already allowing people to rebook for a later date, so don't hesitate, contact them and find out what you're entitled to do.

Ask the holiday company what their plans are if something does occur closer to the time. Do they have alternative hotels or accommodation in other areas, for example?

MORE: Your rights to get paid in the event of coronavirus affecting you

- The big gamble

A number of people who I've spoken to have told me that they've cancelled their holidays outright and lost all their cash. Don't do this unless you have to.

As long as the firm has your money, you have its attention. So ask them what your options are and get a written response.

Remember there's a big difference between your holiday being cancelled (you'll generally get a refund) and choosing to cancel (you may not if there's no official advice that you can't travel).

So think carefully about what you're willing to do and what you aren't - then see what you can negotiate.


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