Government to expand Atol travel insurance scheme

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Following the problems with a number of large tour operators going bust in recent years, the government has now announced its plans to expand the Atol (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) scheme.

This scheme was created to provide protection and financial cover for travellers when they purchase a package holiday and the tour operator goes bust. This can leave them out of pocket if they have not yet gone on holiday, or stranded abroad if they are already at their destination, and the scheme provides cover for both situations.

The scheme has been hit hard over recent years with the collapse of a number of large tour operators. As such, the government has had to support it with £42 million. It is now hoping to expand the scheme to provide better protection for travellers.

The new plans will cover ‘flight plus’ holidays where hotels and flights are booked within a short space of time but are not part of a package deal. However, holidaymakers who book hotels and flights from different operators will still not be able to get financial protection from the scheme.

The changes will make it compulsory for travel agents to inform customers if the holiday is not protected by Atol. A new certificate will also be brought in that will clearly state when holidays are protected, making things easier for travellers.

Last year the scheme was responsible for repatriating 43,637 people, and a further 132,820 holidaymakers were refunded when their tour operators went into administration.

The changes, which might come in as early as the end of the year, could see six million extra holidays being protected. However, larger operators have said that more needs to be done to include flight-only deals.


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