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Your guide to ABTA protection

Make sure your holiday is covered by ABTA protection

When things go wrong with your holiday you’ll want someone to put it right. ABTA provide advice and guidance to holidaymakers, as well as some financial protection to people that book with an ABTA travel agent, that can work alongside the cover you get from your travel insurance.

About ABTA

ABTA stands for Association of British Travel Agents and is the UK’s largest travel association. Travel agents and tour operators that are members of ABTA sell £32 billion worth of holidays and other travel arrangements each year.

ABTA members must abide by a code of conduct that promotes high standards of customer services within the travel industry.

ABTA also provide some financial protection if your holiday provider goes bust. Together with travel insurance, this cover should provide reassurance for holidaymakers.

provide some financial protection if your holiday provider goes bust

ABTA code of conduct

Members of ABTA must abide by a code of conduct that covers everything from the information you receive before you book your holiday, through to resolving complaints.

So for example, ABTA members must:

  • Provide accurate information so you can make an informed choice
  • Refund the cost of your holiday if a significant delay means you don’t want to travel
  • Respond and resolve complaints as quickly as possible

Financial protection from ABTA

ABTA can protect your holiday if you buy a coach, rail or sea-based package holiday, like a cruise, from a UK-based ABTA member. Flight-based holiday packages are covered by ATOL protection.

Many travel agents and tour operators in the UK are members of ABTA and also hold an ATOL licence. So if you look for both the ABTA and ATOL logos, one or other of the schemes should cover your package holiday.

If your holiday isn't covered by the ABTA or ATOL schemes, you may be able to claim some money back from your travel insurance if an end supplier, such as a scheduled airline or your hotel goes bankrupt before you travel. Check your policy carefully before you buy your holiday.

The best level of financial protection from ABTA applies to package holidays. If you book a package holiday via an ABTA member and your travel company go bust, you will receive a refund if you haven’t travelled, or your return home will be organised if you’re on holiday when the first ceases trading.

If you book flights or accommodation only, there's no legal requirement for ABTA members to reimburse you if something goes wrong. However, some travel operators will, so check what protection is in place before you buy.

ABTA’s complaint process

If your travel agent / tour operator is a member of ABTA and you have a problem with your holiday, say your hotel is not as described, or there are major road works going on next door that are causing a noise nuisance and you feel the tour operator is not handling your complaint effectively, you can take your complaint to ABTA.

There’s a six-step complaint process

  1. Register your complaint with supporting evidence
  2. ABTA issue you with a case reference number
  3. Case reviewed and advice given
  4. Travel operator may be contacted for their response
  5. Response forwarded to you to accept or reject
  6. Move to arbitration if you and the travel operator can’t reach agreement

ABTA, ATOL and travel insurance

Even if you’ve booked a holiday with an ABTA member, or you have some financial protection with ATOL, both organisations stipulate that you should always have adequate travel insurance in place before you go on holiday.

ABTA and ATOL can help you to get home from your holiday if you’re stranded because your tour operator goes bankrupt, but they won’t get you home if you break a leg skiing and need to cut short your holiday. For that, you need travel insurance.

LV= Premier travel insurance will not only reimburse you if your transport, accommodation or excursion provider goes bankrupt, but the policy also provides cover if:

  • You need medical help overseas
  • You need to cancel your trip before you go
  • You need to cut short your holiday
  • You damage any property or person

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