ABI (Association of British Insurers) advice on Thomas Cook collapse

Thursday, 26 September 2019

ABI (Association of British Insurers) advice on Thomas Cook collapse

Mark Shepherd, Assistant Director, Head of General Insurance Policy, Association of British Insurers, said:
“At this worrying time for Thomas Cook customers, people who were due to travel with the company should contact the Civil Aviation Authority, their credit card provider, or bank first to discuss any refund. People currently abroad on a package holiday will be protected, with the ATOL scheme paying accommodation costs, and flights back to the UK. In addition, the Government has said that it will assist those who only booked flights with Thomas Cook to get back to the UK.
“Travel insurance policies can provide back up if compensation cannot be accessed from ATOL cover, ABTA cover, banks or credit card providers. In the first instance, customers should check their policies on what cover they have. Those with scheduled airline failure or end supplier failure should be able to get compensation for the cost of the flight. Where travel disruption is included, they may be covered for extra costs, such as additional hotel accommodation or the cost of new flights, where these are not recoverable from any other source.”

If  you have booked to travel with Thomas Cook

Q: What cover is there under travel insurance for events like this?

The ATOL scheme is the first port of call for people on a Thomas Cook package holiday.  If you have a flight only booking through Thomas Cook this will not be covered by the ATOL scheme, but you may be able to get compensation from your credit or debit card provider. If you cannot get compensation from another source check your travel insurance policy for the cover that may apply. Policies may include scheduled airline failure insurance that can cover cancelled flight costs. Policies may also cover travel disruption that can pay for additional costs like accommodation.

Q: Where can I get details of the ATOL protection scheme?

You should contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) https://www.caa.co.uk/News/Thomas-Cook-flying-programme/ 24-hour helpline: 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland and +44 1753 330 330 from overseas.

Q: Should customers be contacting their travel insurer?

It is worth first checking whether your travel insurance policy provides cover for events like this. Where cover is provided, it will usually be on the basis that refunds on flights and accommodation costs are not available from any other source i.e ATOL or your bank/credit card provider. If anything is unclear, speak to your insurer.

Q: I've booked travel insurance as part of my Thomas Cook holiday, is this still valid?

Travel insurance with Thomas Cook is provided by White Horse Insurance Ireland DAC who are not ABI members and are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. As far as we are aware White Horse Insurance Ireland DAC is still operational.

Q: Will travel insurance cover me if I booked a flight only, as this is not covered by the ATOL arrangements?

If you booked a flight only with Thomas Cook and paid by credit card or debit card, then contact your card provider as you should be entitled to a refund. 

Q: If I make alternative travel arrangements, can I transfer my holiday insurance to cover the new destination?

Yes, your travel insurance can be transferred to cover your new arrangements.

Q: Will insurance cover additional costs of any alternative flight?

Insurance may cover the cost of the original flight, and the difference in the cost of a new a flight, but it is important you check what your cover includes as not all policies will include this.

If already overseas

Q: If I booked a flight only with Thomas Cook (meaning I am not protected by ATOL arrangements) will my travel insurer pay for a flight back to the UK?

The government has said it will provide flights for people in this situation. It said that “…given the extent of the disruption the government is stepping in to assist impacted passengers and get people home.” Travel disruption cover can pay for additional overseas accommodation costs incurred if you decide to arrange a return flight home yourself

Q: Will any additional costs not covered by ATOL, such as pre booked excursions, be covered by travel insurance?

If your policy includes travel disruption, then this may cover costs like this that are not recoverable from any other source.

Q: If I only booked my hotel accommodation through Thomas Cook will this be covered by the ATOL scheme?

Yes, the ATOL scheme will cover your accommodation costs.

Q: What about any additional costs, such as accommodation charges incurred while waiting to get back to the UK under the ATOL repatriation?

ATOL scheme should cover these costs. If you have travel disruption or scheduled airline failure cover, then you may be able to reclaim from your travel insurer, if these are not recoverable from another source.

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