BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: Business
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Market Data 
Your Money 
Business Basics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 17 September, 2001, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Insurers reluctant to help travellers
Aircraft grounded at Heathrow
You may be stuck in America or Canada, have had your holiday cancelled or simply be apprehensive about travelling.

So what are your rights?

While travel insurance covers many scenarios, any cancellation of holidays or curtailment due to acts of terrorism is not normally covered.

BBC News Online contacted a number of insurers on Thursday morning to find out if they had softened their stance.

HAVE YOUR SAY Only two insurers contacted - Directline and Direct Travel - said that they had waived the exclusion as a goodwill gesture.

In addition, Norwich Union said that while its exclusions remained in place, they would not be applied to clients caught up in the problems in New York.

Since then, Cheltenham & Gloucester has contacted BBC News Online to say that it has removed the exclusion for people affected by the bombings in America.

Goodwill gesture

A spokesman for Directline said: "We believe it is only reasonable that the traveller should not have to bear all the costs arising from a situation which could never have been anticipated.

"As such we are responding to the current situation by providing a degree of cover on a discretionary basis."

Direct Travel, another company, has 800 people in America, including a British family caught up in the bombings at the World Trade Centre.

It also has 800 people waiting to travel there.

Kim Sullivan of Direct Travel said: "We do not want people to suffer over an above what has happened.

"We hope that it will become an industry standard and the exclusion will be waived."

However, even if exclusions has been waived, it is still important to contact the insurer to see what is covered.

Insurance policies can be more porous than you may think.

Basic rules

  • If your flight has been cancelled, most airlines are offering either a refund or alternative booking.

  • If you are stranded, you should contact your airline and tour operator for help.

  • If you want to cancel your holiday because you simply do not want to go abroad anymore - you are unlikely to be covered under your travel insurance.

  • Go to your insurer first and check to see what is covered.

  • If your insurer will not cover you for cancellation or curtailment of your holiday, you should contact your tour operator or airline to see what assistance it is offering.

    Airtours, for example, said that travellers flying to America on Thursday could cancel or amend their holiday at no extra charge.

  • If you have booked a holiday from a travel agent or tour operator which is a member of the Federation of Tour Operators', you may be protected.

    It updated its contingency measures on Monday 17 September.

    The Federation of Tour Operators' (FTO) has agreed that it will give free cancellation to customers on package holidays for those travelling anywhere in the US and Canada up to midnight Tuesday 18 September.

    People planning to go on package holidays to New York, and Washington DC up to midnight Friday 21 September.

    Check with your tour operator and the FTO to see if your holiday is covered.

  • If you have booked your holiday through a company that is a member of Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) or Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), you will not be covered.

    These membership bodies only protect customers when a company goes bust.

    If your travel agent ceased trading and was a member of either ABTA or ATOL as a result of the bombings, you would be covered.

  • The Government has agreed to pay the medical costs of any British citizens injured in the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon bombings who have no medical insurance.

    The decision was taken at a meeting of the Government's Civil Contingencies Committee on Thursday.

    It will cover the costs of accident and emergency treatment and follow-up medical care.

    Further sources:

    The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA): 020 7637 2444.

    Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL): 020 7453 6350.

    The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO): 020 8744 9280.

    The Federation of Tour Operators (FTO): 01273 477 722.

    Air Transport Users Council (AUC): 020 7240 6061.

    Airtours: 01706 909050.

    Trade winds and Jetset: 0870 751 0006.

    Lunn Poly: 0870 166 7070.

    Thomas Cook emergency helpline: 01733 416 500.

    Tell us your experiences.

  • Send us your comments:

    Your E-mail Address:



    Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

    Key stories


    War view



    See also:

    13 Sep 01 | UK
    Attacks cancel UK flights
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Business stories