Tens of thousands of British travellers will be left unprotected this summer as new research reveals 40pc of insurance policies don’t pay out in the event of strikes.
As chaos continues at airports due to staff shortages and strike action, holidaymakers are turning to travel insurance as a means of protecting their travel plans.
But almost half of all insurance policies do not provide cover for strikes or cancellations due to Covid, according to research by Which?.
The consumer rights group assessed 199 policies offered by 71 providers but found that only six in 10 offered cover if travellers have to cancel a trip due to strikes.
Martyn James, of complaints tool Resolver, said airports excluding strike action from coverage was “unfair” as it left consumers with nowhere to go.
He said insurers would try to pass the blame for strikes onto airlines but warned that “airport strike action along with that of air traffic control, is considered to be out of the airline’s control and therefore the airlines and airports would not have to pay out.”
Of the 199 policies Which? examined, only nine offered what it considered to be “complete” protection in the event of a holiday being disrupted by Covid.
This means that travellers can claim for emergency medical care if they catch Covid while abroad, and have the option to claim cancellation costs if they test positive for Covid before their trip.
These high-quality policies also cover travellers in the eventuality the legal requirement to self-isolate is reintroduced. They can even claim if after booking the trip, the Government advises against travel to the destination, as happened frequently during the pandemic.
But the consumer group warned there were “huge disparities” in the level of cover offered.
Which?’s Jenny Ross said: “With many airlines warning of widespread disruption this summer and Covid cases on the rise, travellers should ensure they’ve taken out adequate insurance to cover any losses or unexpected costs they might face.
“We advise travellers to always check policies carefully to ensure they offer the cover that will be most appropriate to their trip, and to ensure they have cover in place from the time of booking.”
Which? found three in 10 policies were of “low” quality while 2pc were considered “basic”, only offering emergency medical cover in the event of catching Covid while outside of the UK.
Airlines are obligated to refund passengers if they cancel a flight – even if the cancellation was due to strike action.
Travellers are also entitled to a refund if their package holiday is cancelled by an operator, or if the business goes bust while they are abroad. Provided the firm is protected by the ATOL scheme, they will also be repatriated.
Which? advised holidaymakers to pay for travel on credit cards where possible as – under Section 75 rules – providers are legally bound to reimburse cardholders for any purchase over £100 if services provided are not as advertised, and the company responsible won’t offer a refund.