We're all told to look out for the ATOL logo when we’re booking a holiday, but what is ATOL protection, and why do we need it?
The history of ATOL
Back in the 1970s, before travel insurance took off, but when package holidays were becoming increasingly popular, British holidaymakers were finding themselves stranded abroad or out of pocket if their travel company went bust before or during their holiday.
In response, the Civil Aviation Authority set up the ATOL scheme. ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser's Licence.
Today, every UK travel company that sells holidays that involve a flight is required by law to hold a licence. But if you just book a flight directly with a scheduled airline, you won’t be covered.
What does ATOL protection mean?
ATOL protection means:
- If you’re overseas and your holiday organiser or airline fails, you'll be able to finish your holiday and get home
- If you have yet to take your holiday, you’ll get your money back
ATOL protection can work well in tandem with travel insurance to ensure you’re completely protected against any part of your holiday being ruined by a provider going bust.
This is because ATOL protection covers the failure of your holiday organiser, whereas if you book elements of your trip directly with the supplier, travel insurance can cover the failure of that supplier, such as the ferry company or a firm running excursions. So if you have ATOL protection and appropriate travel insurance, you should be covered regardless of how you booked your holiday.
What If I need to make a claim?
Be sure to take your ATOL certificate and organisers' details on holiday with you. You should contact them first if something goes wrong.
The ATOL website lists the companies that have recently gone out of business. You can look for the company named on your certificate in this list and it will detail what you need to do to make a claim.
If you're still on holiday when you find out your holiday organiser has gone bust, information will normally be provided to you. In most cases, you should still be able to finish your holiday.
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