Holidaymakers across the world are now faced with cancelled travel plans as the world goes into an unprecedented lockdown to try and combat the rapidly spreading coronavirus. Countless airlines have pulled flights, meanwhile, hotel and tour activities have been slashed.
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In most instances, if you took out a travel insurance policy before the World Health Organisation named the coronavirus a pandemic, your insurance provider will continue to assist with coverage.
However, many travel insurance providers have been unable to sell new policies or offer coverage for coronavirus cancellations for anyone who invested in a policy after March 11, 2020.
When it comes to flights, airlines tend to be responsible for providing a refund if they cancel a flight.
However, should a traveller decide not to fly over coronavirus concerns, their flight operator is not responsible for this refund.
Experts from online bank Monzo offer an explanation on their website: “If something you’ve booked has been cancelled by the merchant you bought it from because of coronavirus, clarify the refund policy with them directly.
“Whenever you buy something, the merchant you bought it from will have a refund policy.
“In most cases, the refund policy will say what the merchant will do if they have to cancel the booking or event and if you can get your money back.”
They continue: “If you had plans to travel to a country that the government advised not to, you’ll probably need to cancel your trip.
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“Speak to the merchants you’ve got bookings with to find out their refund policy is and see if you can get your money back.
“If they don’t refund you, talk to your travel insurance provider if you have one.
“An insurance provider will also have a policy that explains if you’re entitled to a refund.”
There are some extraordinary circumstances amid the COVID-19 outbreak, however, that may temporarily amend refund policies.
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This includes for package holidays.
Travel companies earning no revenue amid the travel ban could be sent out of business if they are forced to hand back payments for cancelled holidays.
In a bit to stop this, the European Commission updated its guidance on refunds for package holidays.
Customers are now being encouraged to accept vouchers or credit notes – as long as the holidaymaker can eventually reclaim their money.
How to get a refund without travel insurance
For those not due to embark on a package holiday, there are ways holidaymakers can seek to get their money back even without a travel insurance policy in place.
This involved a chargeback and can be instigated by the monetary merchant you paid with.
“If the merchant doesn’t refund you and you don’t have any insurance or protection, your bank can look into creating a chargeback for you,” explains Monzo’s website.
“A chargeback is where your bank disputes a transaction you made with the merchant, to try and get your money back.”
It is vital you tell the bank what you paid for, why the merchant won’t refund you and what the terms and conditions of the purchase were.
This method has also been cited by Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis in the past as a useful way to get your money back.
Though this is not legal protection, it is a process which works for Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Mr Lewis explains: “It tends to be the quickest way of getting your money back – effectively you’re disputing the transaction as you’ve paid for something you’ve not received.”
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