Tommy Lloyd
Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, and his primary focus is helping travellers find the right cover for their medical conditions.

Originally posted: 15th Sep 2022

What is holiday cancellation insurance?

An important part of any travel insurance policy, holiday cancellation cover will compensate you for either some of or the total cost of your travel expenses if you’re forced to cancel your trip due to unexpected circumstances. It can also cover you should you need to cut your trip short for any reason – referred to as ‘curtailment’.

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Why do I need cancellation cover?

Holidays are amazing ways to relax and unwind, but something that can be incredibly stressful is having to cancel a holiday or cut it short for reasons out of your control.

Whether you were meant to be sunning yourself on a beautiful beach or hitting the fresh powder of the slopes, not being able to go on a holiday you’ve spent time and money planning can be very disheartening, and oftentimes, the reasons you can’t go are not positive ones – illness, bereavement or being made redundant to name a few.

This is where cancellation cover comes in. Although it can’t help with getting you on that holiday, it can make sure you don’t feel the sting financially as well and help you to get back the money you have spent. It makes a worst-case scenario slightly more bearable.

What does holiday cancellation insurance cover?

To put it simply, cancellation cover is there for unforeseen circumstances which can cause you to cancel or cut short your trip. This will apply to you, and any travel companions who are also on your insurance policy.

Every policy is different, however, the most common scenarios that are covered by cancellation cover are:

  • An injury or illness that prevents you from travelling
  • An unexpected bereavement
  • A burglary, fire, or flood at your home
  • A pregnancy with which you are advised not to travel
  • Being called for jury duty
  • Being made redundant
  • The destination you were travelling to no longer being safe to visit according to the FCDO

Your policy will vary depending on the provider and deal, so, it’s always worth checking that the policy covers you for a range of reasons when taking it out.

Close Up Of Cancelled Flights Board

What doesn’t holiday cancellation insurance cover?

Just as each policy will cover different things, each policy will have rules on what it doesn’t cover also. Generally, you’ll find that cancellation cover won’t be able to help you in these scenarios:

  • The reason you cannot go was apparent when you were booking the trip
  • You’ve simply had a change of heart and no longer want to go on your trip
  • You’re unable to travel because of a pre-existing medical condition you did not declare
  • You became ill or injured by being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Your airline or travel provider has cancelled your flights or accommodation (in this scenario, it should be them that reimburses you rather than your insurance policy)

Declaring your pre-existing medical conditions

We understand that a long-term illness or injury can often be the reason a person is unable to travel, and that’s why comparing travel medical insurance policies is essential. You can get a cheap travel insurance policy for pre-existing medical conditions including cancer, mental health illnesses, diabetes and more.

The condition you have might be one that’s newly been presented, a lifetime illness or one that you’ve previously had and are now recovered from. However, once it’s been declared on your policy, it will be included as a part of your policy meaning if you have to cancel your holiday due to an issue with it, you can have peace of mind that you’ll be covered.

If you are travelling with other people, they’ll also be covered if you need to cancel due to your pre-existing condition, equally, you’ll be covered if you need to cancel due to theirs. For more information, read our guide to travelling as a group.

Does holiday cancellation cover include cancelled flights?

A cancelled flight isn’t generally covered by cancellation insurance, however, depending on your policy, you might be able to recuperate the cost of delays or disruptions.

Saying that, in most instances when a flight is cancelled, the airline you’re flying with will be able to rearrange your flight or refund it. They should also be able to compensate you if there are any lengthy delays that are caused by them (this doesn’t include situations outside of their control such as strike actions or poor weather conditions).

Does travel insurance cover COVID cancellations?

We know how disheartening the COVID-19 pandemic has been and the way it’s affected travel plans and so, we’ll only show you policy options that provide cover for emergency medical expenses should you or your travelling companions catch COVID-19 whilst abroad and need to return home. You can learn more about covid holiday cancellation insurance in this guide.

Please be aware, that although we’ll only show you insurance policies that cover COVID-19, not every policy does.


Person Holding A Positive COVID Test

What can I claim for with holiday cancellation cover?

Holiday cancellation insurance policies will often cover the cost of:

  • Transportation including flights, train travel and ship travel
  • Transfers from your transportation to your accommodation
  • Accommodation
  • Pre-booked activities and excursions

Certain policies will also be able to cover the cost of: unused visas, other things you have pre-booked and pre-paid for.

If the holiday you’re booking is a cruise, you’ll need to get specific cruise holiday insurance within your policy to be properly protected. Including cover for a missed port departure, being airlifted from the ship in a medical emergency, and cabin confinement to name a few, it’ll give you a more robust level of cover.

Alternatively, for a winter sports holiday including skiing, snowboarding and ice skating, you can get winter sports holiday insurance. As these sports tend to be more dangerous, a higher level of protection is needed.

Claiming for cancellation cover

The process of making a claim will depend on the insurance provider you get your policy with. Once you take out a policy, we’d always recommend that you check your policy details to familiarise yourself with both the level of cover you have and the claim procedure should you need it.

As soon as you know you’ll need to make a claim, you should contact your insurance provider (there is usually a contact number on your policy document) with the policy number and details of your claim. When you do this, the advisor you speak to will be able to take you through the process, but it’s always wise to have your policy documents to hand plus any documents that might explain your cancellation (for example, your jury summons or medical certificate).

You should always contact your insurance provider as soon as you are made aware that you will have to cancel your trip. If you delay updating them too much, you won’t be covered for the resulting costs.

How much protection will cancellation cover give me?

The amount of cover you’ll receive in the event of a cancellation will depend on the policy you take out. Different insurance providers will offer a different cover limit, and you’ll also find that the limit will change depending on the amount you paid for your holiday.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Cancellation amounts will be per person. So, if you were going on a trip for 2 people which cost £1,000 in total you would ideally need cancellation cover for at least £500.

If you have to cancel your cruise, your insurance provider may be able to cover the cost of your pre-booked excursions and this will usually be up to a certain amount. We'll show you whether this is covered before you buy your policy.

If you are taking out single trip cover, and have cancellation cover included, you'll be covered for cancellation from the moment you buy your policy. However, if you are taking out annual trip cover, and have cancellation cover included, you'll be covered from the start date of your policy. Consider starting your annual trip cover as soon as possible, especially if you have already booked your trip!
Full details of what you need to do to make a claim will be detailed in the Policy Wording provided to you by your insurance provider.

A pre-existing condition is a diagnosed medical condition that existed before taking out a policy. We'll ask a series of questions about the medical history for you and any travellers on your quote. If you answer yes to any of these, you will need to tell us about the traveller's conditions. This could be a condition that a traveller has now or has had in the past. If you are not sure what conditions you need to declare, we have online support available to help you 24/7!

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