Bomb blasts were the last thing any of us expected in Thailand’s popular tourist areas during the summer holidays, and a lot of people are reconsidering their holiday plans as a result.
It’s not always considered polite to be concerned about financial losses when lives have been lost, but the reality is that when dozens or even hundreds of people are directly affected by terrorism – and make no mistake, those deaths and injuries are the greatest tragedy; our deepest sympathies go out to those people and their families – thousands more are indirectly affected.
We at Safe Journey don’t believe in living in fear, and while the incidence of terrorism is on the increase and needs to be considered, we feel that a bit of research and preparation means we don’t have to stay home.
Let’s take a look at a few scenarios to help you make informed decisions for safer travels.
Booked but don’t want to go!
Booked a trip to Hua Hin on 2 August, and paid in full.
Scheduled to leave on 25 August but would prefer not to go following terrorism.
This is known as “disinclination to travel”.
If you had bought a Safe Journey policy when you booked on 2 August or before your departure:
- Cancellation will be covered, up to £2000 per person, if your accommodation was booked within 40 miles of where any of the bombings took place.
- You must have purchased your policy before the terrorism occurred, i.e. on or before 10 August 2016 – so buying it on 2 August is fine.
- Your departure must be within 6 weeks of the attack, so 25 August applies.
If you didn’t have a Safe Journey policy:
- Did you book through a tour operator? They may have offered to provide an equivalent alternative – each tour operator would decide whether or not to do so in this situation.
- If you had booked a package holiday and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had advised against travel (or against all but essential travel) to the area, your tour operator would then have been obligated to provide an equivalent alternative or a refund. Please see notes on FCO advice below for details.
- Did you book independently? You would have had to speak to your hotel and airline directly as any changes or refunds would be at their discretion.
In Patong when the bombings happened; wanted to leave early.
If you had a Safe Journey policy:
- Curtailing your trip would have been covered, as long as your accommodation was within 40 miles of an attack.
- Safe Journey would have arranged to get you home, and the unused portion of your trip would have been covered – up to £2000 per person.
- Your policy must have been purchased before the act of terrorism took place
- If you had purchased Safe Journey on or before 31 July 2016, the area covered would have been within the State or Province in which an attack took place, rather than within 40 miles of an attack.
If your accommodation was within 1 mile of an attack, Safe Journey would have also provided emergency temporary accommodation.
Had you been injured, Safe Journey would have covered emergency medical treatment, as well as medical repatriation if required. The policy also includes death and permanent disablement, loss of personal possessions, delays, and withdrawal of services. You can find full inclusions, exclusions, terms and conditions here.
If you didn’t have Safe Journey:
- Did you book a package holiday through a tour operator? They may have arranged to move you to alternate accommodation in an area not affected by terrorism, or they may have sent you home.
- As is the case for cancellation, if the FCO issues advice against travel to the area, your package tour provider would be obligated to relocate you or get you back home. For further details, please read “FCO Advice” below.
- Did you book independently? Any changes and refunds would have been up to individual hotels, airlines, and other service providers.
Planning a trip to Thailand but now reconsidering.
These recent acts of terrorism highlight the fact that we can’t predict where and when an attack will take place, and there are a number of things to consider when booking your next trip.
- What is the official level of threat from terrorism? Thailand has a high threat level according to the FCO, as do France, Turkey, and most of Western Europe. This level has been in place for some time.
- Do you want to visit Thailand specifically, or would any cost-effective beach holiday work for you?
- If you specifically want to go to Thailand, do your research and find areas and hotels that have good security.
- Keep track of FCO travel advice before you book AND before you travel.
- Be prepared. Have the appropriate travel insurance for your trip – including comprehensive cover for terrorism – to provide greater peace of mind.
- Please remember, you can’t buy Safe Journey after an attack has occurred in order to claim for cancellation due to that attack! Make sure you purchase Safe Journey and all other travel insurance when you book.
If the FCO advises against travel, or against all but essential travel, to a country, city or area, you should take this very seriously. Most travel insurance policies – including Safe Journey – won’t provide cover if you disregard FCO advice.
Tour operators generally won’t make a booking to somewhere the FCO advises against travelling to. They must provide an equivalent alternative or a refund if the advice is issued after you have booked a package holiday, as they are subject to EU Package Travel Regulations.
Other travel providers not governed by EU Package Travel Regulations do not have to provide refunds or make changes, as the FCO explains on its website:
“Travel companies and airlines often take our advice into account but the decision to cancel or reschedule a flight, holiday, tour or excursion is a decision that can only be taken by the travel company and the customer.
“The question of refunds is a matter that must be resolved between the customer and the relevant airline, tour operator or travel agent. We don’t dictate when travel can or can’t take place.
“If you have booked a package holiday, your travel company must comply with the Package Travel Regulations. Part of this law says that customers are entitled to a refund or an alternative holiday if there has been a significant change since the time of booking.”
Only you can decide whether or not to go to Thailand or any other destination, and you’ll feel a lot more comfortable with that decision if you have all the facts. Read your travel insurance policy wording so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not – they’re all different! – and make sure your family and friends know what to do in case of an emergency situation.
NB: Safe Journey is currently the only policy available in the UK which covers cancellation due to disinclination (as per the conditions stated above). You can add it to any travel insurance policy though, and it costs as little as £4.96 per person for a single trip of up to 8 days – get a quick quote and see for yourself!
#PreparedNotScared was trending on social media during Euro 2016 and we believe that’s still an excellent motto! Get the facts, get the right cover, and make every journey a safe one.
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