What is ATOL? Why do I need ATOL? ATOL is a form of protection that all reputable travel companies invest in and has been protecting travellers in the UK since 1973. The idea being that if your travel company fails, you are not left stranded abroad or lose your investment. On the 15th of July, LowCostHolidays.com announced that due to the “…ongoing turbulent financial environment” they would be ceasing trading. As a result, nearly 110,000 people were left scratching their heads and panicking about where they stood regarding their holidays, a large number of whom were already abroad.
ATOL protection ensures that if the travel company collapses prior to or while you are on your holiday, the UK Government backed scheme will fully refund you for the cost of your holiday and ensure your repatriation to the UK. If you already have holiday protection with travel insurance or have booked through a VISA card, the likelihood is that you will also be protected.
According to caa.co.uk (Civil Aviation Authority), the law advises that if you book through a single travel company/firm, you are protected for your flights, car hire, accommodation and even cruise. This means that your holiday must be booked with a package holiday company - direct bookings with airlines are not covered in the scheme.
Your ATOL certificate, like travel insurance documents is a certification that your holiday enjoys the protection of cover in case of eventualities. If you receive an ATOL certificate, you should keep it safe and take it with you on your trip. NOTE: The ATOL certificate is not a replacement for holiday travel insurance. If for any reason you do not receive your ATOL certificate, contact your travel company. If their response is not ideal, email <ATOL Certificates>.
The law says that travel agents and travel companies are liable for ATOL fund contributions. They are required to pay £2.50 per traveller into a central fund. While some travel companies clarify the ATOL scheme’s cost on receipts, you should not be made to pay.
If you are unsure that your travel company holds a bona fide ATOL certificate, there are ways to be sure. ATOL logos should show a unique licence number. This code usually begins with a ‘T’ at the beginning and is followed by 4-5 digits. The company would also be registered the CAA and you can always check with them directly on their website.
Booking without ATOL protection is tantamount to booking a holiday without travel insurance. The risk you take by avoiding or failing to insist upon ATOL protection is entirely your own and could potentially result in financial loss and emotional worry. If the company is not a part of the ATOL scheme, you should ask why not? Decide whether you want to take a chance on a non-secured holiday. In the end, it’s your decision.
ABTA protection is similar to ATOL. If your holiday company is a member of ABTA rather than ATOL, do not be concerned but ask your holiday company to explain their relationship with them. ABTA covers companies in the event of failure and employs a procedure whereby you can claim your holiday costs back.
Yes. You need travel insurance. Of course, this is a travel insurance site, we would say that. But, travelling without protection can be a huge risk, financially and physically. If you’re travelling solo, the risk is entirely your own, but if you are in a couple or more, the risk is that much greater.
In addition to your ATOL or ABTA protection, holiday travel insurance is key to providing peace of mind for the holiday goer.
Coverage to be found on most travel insurance policies includes; cancellation of your flights, lost or stolen luggage, personal accident claims, legal expenses, medical treatment and repatriation to the UK.
Be sure that when you are buying travel insurance or getting a travel insurance quote you listen carefully and answer the insurer’s questions truthfully. Opt for the right coverage for your particular holiday and agree to extras only if they are relevant to your destination.
It is possible that you may need to claim on your policy or against the airline directly. Be sure you have all your pertinent documentation with you before you depart and store it once you arrive in a safe place.