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.

Booking a holiday is an unparalleled experience. You've dedicated hours to navigating the internet, securing the best flights and selecting your perfect hotel. The only thing left is the anticipation of embarking on your journey, embracing new and thrilling adventures, and indulging in some long-awaited rest and relaxation.

Yet, life is unpredictable and often has a way of presenting challenges at the most inconvenient times. Illness, injury, and family emergencies are just a few of the unexpected events that could lead to the unfortunate cancellation of your holiday plans. Facing the financial and emotional repercussions of such cancellations can indeed be a source of significant stress and disappointment.

This is precisely where the value of holiday cancellation insurance becomes clear. In this guide, we delve into the essentials of cancellation insurance, exploring its benefits and how it can offer you reassurance and peace of mind as you plan and book your next getaway.

What is holiday cancellation insurance?

Holiday cancellation cover, a crucial component of any travel insurance policy, offers compensation for partial or full travel expenses if unforeseen circumstances force you to cancel your trip. These circumstances can range from medical emergencies to jury service.

Whether planning an expensive long-haul journey or a brief city getaway, holiday cancellation insurance is vital for safeguarding your financial commitment. It provides reimbursement for any non-refundable trip costs, ensuring that you don’t incur losses on prepaid expenses should you be unable to travel.

Cancellation cover can also cover you should you need to cut your holiday short due to unforeseen circumstances - this is referred to as 'Curtailment'.

Read our guide for more information on What is Curtailment?

Why do I need cancellation cover?

Holidays offer a fantastic opportunity to relax and recharge. However, the stress of having to cancel or abruptly end your holiday due to unforeseen circumstances can be overwhelming.

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. Whilst it can't help you to get back on your holiday, it can help you to recoup the expenses you have spent in booking your trip. Allowing you to focus on the cause of cancelling in the first place.

Specialist Medical Cover

We only work with providers who specialise in covering pre-existing conditions.

Save Money

No discounts. No pressure. We’ll always show you the best prices from providers.

What does holiday cancellation insurance cover?

Simply put, cancellation cover is there for unforeseen circumstances that can cause you to cancel or cut short your trip. This will apply to you, and any travel companions who are also included 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.

Cancellation cover will vary depending on the provider and policy you have purchased, so, it’s always worth checking in what scenarios cancellation protection will step in.

What doesn’t holiday cancellation insurance cover?

Just as each travel insurance policy will cover different things, each policy will also have rules on what it doesn’t cover. Generally, you’ll find that cancellation insurance 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 the airline or travel provider that reimburses you rather than your insurance policy.)
Close Up Of Cancelled Flights Board

Does holiday cancellation insurance cover cancelled flights?

When it comes to holiday cancellation insurance, many wonder if it extends to cancelled flights. Typically, a cancelled flight is not covered under the umbrella of cancellation insurance. Nonetheless, depending on the specifics of your policy, it may include provisions that allow you to reclaim expenses incurred due to delays or disruptions in your travel plans.

It's important to note, that whilst your initial thought might be to lean on your cancellation insurance in the event of a flight cancellation, airlines often have their own policies to address such issues. In most cases, if your flight is cancelled, the airline you're booked with is likely to offer solutions such as rearranging your flight to your intended destination at no additional cost or providing a full refund of your ticket price.

Furthermore, airlines are typically obliged to offer compensation for any substantial inconveniences caused by significant delays, unless the delays are the result of factors beyond their control. These factors might include, but are not limited to, industrial actions like strikes, or adverse weather conditions that make flying unsafe.

Therefore, whilst holiday cancellation insurance is a valuable asset, for many other unforeseen circumstances related to your trip, it's beneficial to familiarise yourself with both your insurance policy's fine print and the airline's policies regarding cancellations and delays.

This dual approach ensures that you are well-prepared and fully informed of your options if your travel plans are disrupted.

Will cancellation insurance cover me for my pre-existing medical conditions?

In most cases, you should be covered if you need to cancel your holiday, due to your pre-existing medical condition. However, to be covered you must have:

  • Previously informed your travel insurance provider of your pre-existing medical condition and they have agreed to provide cover; and
  • Received confirmation from your GP or medical practitioner, that you are not fit to travel.

We understand that a long-term illness or injury can often be the reason a person is unable to travel, resulting in cancelling their holiday. You can secure a travel insurance policy for pre-existing medical conditions, covering a range of health issues including cancermental health illnessesdiabetes and more.

The condition(s) you have might be newly presented, a lifetime illness or one that you’ve previously had and are now recovered from. However, once it’s been declared on your quote, 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.

Additionally, if you are travelling with other people and they are included within your travel insurance, 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.

Person Holding A Positive COVID Test

Can holiday cancellation insurance protect my cruise or winter sports holiday?

Yes! However, it is important to remember that if the holiday you’re booking is a cruise, you’ll need to make sure you have cruise holiday insurance included within your policy to be properly protected. Cruise travel insurance is an add-on for travel insurance policies, meaning that it isn't usually included as standard - you will have to request this protection to be added to your policy.

Cruise travel insurance extends the cover of your travel insurance policy to include protection for a missed port departure, being airlifted from the ship in a medical emergency, and cabin confinement to name a few. It will give you a more robust level of cover.

For a winter sports holiday (including skiing, snowboarding and ice skating), you will need to make sure you have winter sports holiday insurance included in your policy.

Again, winter sports cover is an add-on, just like cruise travel insurance and in most cases, is not included as standard. This is because winter sports tend to be more dangerous, resulting in a higher level of protection, which usually includes cover for ski equipment, piste closure and avalanches.

What can I claim for with holiday cancellation cover?

Holiday cancellation insurance policies will often cover the cost of unused:

  • Transportation which includes flights, train travel and ship travel.
  • Transfers to your accommodation.
  • Accommodation costs.
  • Pre-booked activities and excursions.

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

Rated Excellent

Trusted by thousands of people like you who've reviewed us on Trustpilot.

Save Time

No phone calls or paperwork. Join millions who've sorted cover online in minutes.

How much protection will cancellation cover give me?

The amount of cancellation protection you will receive will depend on a few factors, namely:

  • The limit of cancellation cover provided by your travel insurance policy; and
  • The expenses you have incurred with booking your holiday.

To confirm, cancellation limits vary between providers and packages. When purchasing your policy, you need to make sure that the limits of cancellation cover in place are adequate for the amount you have paid for your holiday. E.g. if you paid £500 for your holiday, then your policy should have a cancellation limit of £500. Remember, the limit amount is per person.

Additionally, should the cancellation cover of your chosen travel insurance policy be capped at £1000, yet you've only expended £500 on your holiday, the compensation you receive will be limited to the actual amount you've spent.

Should you be in the unfortunate position where you need to make a claim, you also need to look out for the amount of excess applied to cancellation claims. Say you make a claim for £500, and your excess is £50, the insurer may request you pay this before making your claim, or they will remove the excess amount from your compensation payment.

Read our guide Travel Insurance Excesses Explained, for more information.

How do I make a cancellation claim?

Once you take out a policy, we always recommend that you check your policy details to familiarise yourself with what to do, should you need to make a claim.

If you need to cancel your trip and make a claim, you must contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. If you delay in updating them too much, you may not be covered for the resulting costs.

You can find their contact number within your policy documents. The advisor you speak with will take you through the claims process, however, it is wise that you have your policy documents, policy number, plus any documents that might explain your cancellation (for example, your jury summons or medical certificate).

When should I buy travel insurance with cancellation cover?

The ideal time to purchase travel insurance with cancellation cover, is as soon as you've booked your trip. This strategy is prudent because it ensures you're covered for any unforeseen events that might occur from the moment you've paid for your holiday until the day you return home.

Many people overlook this step, only to find themselves in a situation where they need to cancel their trip due to unexpected incidents like illness or family emergencies but have no insurance in place to recoup their expenses.

Read our guide for more information on When to Buy Travel Insurance.

Get a quote

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!

You can visit our help centre on Claims which may help. However, if you need to make a claim, 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!

Share and share alike Share the love with friends.