When Low Cost Holidays collapsed in the summer of 2016, over 26,000 of their customers were abroad and 110,000 had existing bookings. Many of those who had made bookings were completely unaware that the company was operating in Spain and not covered by the UK’s Air Travel Organiser’s License (ATOL), which protects any money paid in advance for package holidays.
Just hours before announcing their cease in trading, Low Cost Holidays were operating normally and their website had been updated with new deals and offers. Their collapse highlights the importance of checking that any holiday you book is ATOL protected, which is backed by the UK government and protects the price you have paid.
Here’s our top tips for making sure you don’t risk losing any money when you book your next break:
- Check that your travel company is ATOL protected
When buying in person or over the phone, be sure to ask your provider. If you are buying online, check the website for the ATOL logo and double check using the ATOL search facility here. You should also make sure that you are given an ATOL certificate – this is required by law as soon as you have booked and paid any money towards a holiday or flight. You can see a sample ATOL certificate here.
- Look to see whether the company is part of any other travel organisations
Many travel operators are members of well known travel organisations, such as ABTA, which act as a further level of protection when you book a holiday. ABTA have been a trusted brand for over 65 years, and help provide advice and support if you have any issues with your holiday provider. Booking with a company that is a member of ABTA means you have financial protection but also that the company is required to adhere to a specific code of conduct. You can find out more here.
- Buy your travel insurance as soon as you book
Many people assume that your travel insurance doesn’t need to start until your holiday begins, but this can be a big mistake, particularly if you have prepaid. Should anything happen to you, for example, if you are taken ill and need to cancel your trip, travel insurance from the day you book will have you covered. Without travel insurance in place it is unlikely you’d get any money back if you need to cancel.
- When possible, pay with a credit card
Paying with your credit card gives you an extra level of protection, particularly if you are buying online. For any goods or a holiday costing between £100 and £30,000, you’ll be covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act – this means that the credit card company has equal responsibility with the seller if there’s a problem with anything you have bought or if the company you bought from collapses. It can sometimes be slightly more expensive to pay by credit card (usually around 3%) but is well worthwhile, especially if you are booking a high value trip.
- Take all documents away with you
It is best to print all your documents, including insurance paperwork and the ATOL certificate for your provider, and take them with you. This will provide you with all the correct contact information you need should anything happen while you are away, without the need to get online or search through your emails.
If you’re planning your next holiday and need to get military travel insurance in place, make sure you get a quote with Trinity – our insurance is provided by Columbus Direct and includes all military benefits as standard. Find out more here or give us a call today on 01243 817777.