As you are aware, we have had an influx of claims over the last 3 months under the Travel section of cover where trips have been disrupted due to the restrictions arising from Covid-19.
Whilst many claims have already been submitted, there may be further booked trips where the intended date of travel has not passed. We can advise that we have seen many instances where the cancellation of trips has been communicated by Members to travel providers (as opposed to the travel providers cancelling the trips) when nothing has been gained by way of refund by doing so. Even when the decision not to proceed with a trip has been entirely in accordance with FCO guidance not to travel to the destination concerned, all too often the right to a refund (over and above in the case of airlines the refund of air passenger duty) has been lost.
Our very strong recommendation is that in all instances very careful attention is paid to the booking terms and conditions that apply before a Member communicates a cancellation to a travel provider and, unless it is clear that a refund will be due when the Member cancels, it is usually best to be patient and wait until the travel provider cancels as that will often mean there will be entitlement to a significant if not full refund; in most instances, if you cancel, normal cancellation charges will apply and no refund will be due.
We have also seen several cases of airlines insisting either that no refund is due or that the traveller is only entitled to a voucher even when the airline has cancelled the flight. In our view, this may be in breach of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 which applies to passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies. As most flights will have been due to depart from the UK this would seem to fall within the scope of the above regulations.
In addition, the regulations state that in the event of cancellation the airline must offer reimbursement within 7 days in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques and that vouchers may only be offered with the signed agreement of the passenger.