As conversations about foreign travel ‘traffic light’ lists continue, many of us are choosing the green grass of home for our next getaway. From self-catering cottages to hotel stays, the UK holiday industry is experiencing a spike in demand as consumer confidence rises after lockdown – even against a backdrop of ongoing risk.
Self-catering accommodation provider, holidaycottages.co.uk, for example has experienced a 320% increase in bookings taken for the summer holiday period when compared to the same period last year2, and research by hotel chain, Best Western, shows that 90% of customers feel safer holidaying in Britain this summer rather than abroad2.
But while we may be used to taking our chances with the British weather, customers could have much more to lose should COVID-19 turn up and ruin their holiday. With the cost of UK holiday accommodation up 35%3 on last year, protecting your booking is more important than ever.
If you are planning a UK break this years, here are three top tips before you book:
- Check the provider’s cancellation policy. While being entitled to a full refund even a few days before travel may sound reasonable, if you or someone else in your party either tests positive, shows symptoms or is required by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate after that cut-off date but before your date of travel, you could end up losing your holiday and your money. Aim for the option to cancel up to the day of travel if possible.
- Familiarise yourself with your accommodation’s COVID-19 policy. If you test positive, show symptoms or have to self-isolate during your stay, you may be liable to foot the bill for any extra nights if you cannot safely travel home and have to self-isolate on the premises. Your accommodation provider should be clear on their plan of action and expectations of you.
- Carefully consider your travel insurance. Do you already have an annual policy that covers UK holidays? Would it cover you if you had to cancel your holiday for any of the above reasons? Recent figures indicate that only 72% of policies will cover costs if you have to cancel because of becoming ill beforehand, and just 34% will protect you if the reason for cancellation is that you are told to isolate by the NHS Track and Trace system4. Check the policy terms and conditions so you know where you stand.
A UK travel insurance policy that takes the above COVID-19 scenarios into consideration could offer you a much greater level of protection than just relying on the booking terms of your holiday provider, however favourable. Ideally, the combination of both will help ensure that your money would be recoverable should you need to cancel – even at the last minute.
Advice and support for accommodation providers
If you are an owner of a hotel or guest accommodation, it is important to keep up to date with the latest changes in government guidance and legislation. We can advise you in any of the following areas as you seek to maintain a COVID-safe environment for your guests and protection for your business:
- Managing cases or suspected cases of COVID-19. As mentioned above, you should have a COVID-19 policy in place that outlines your plan of action should a guest display symptoms of COVID-19, test positive or be required to self-isolate during their stay with you. The government has issued broad guidelines.
- COVID-19 risk assessment implementation. As rules and guidance continue to be amended during the pandemic, it is important for businesses in hospitality to ensure they are aligned with the latest legislation and can evidence this in order to provide a suitable defence should a COVID-19 related claim arise. Our COVID-19 risk assessment implementation service will look at how your risk assessment has been implemented into your day-to-day routines, examining its suitability and effectiveness, and reporting any areas requiring improvement.
- Strengthening your defence against claims. A Claims Defensibility Review will look at your existing policies, procedures and documentation and identify any potential weaknesses you may have if you were faced with defending an employers’ liability or public liability claim. We can then make recommendations for changes (if necessary) to reduce your risk exposure, adding a further layer of protection.
Conditions and Limitations
This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. It reflects our understanding as at 07.07.21, but you will recognise that matters concerning COVID-19 are fast changing across the world. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Our advice to our clients is as an insurance broker and is provided subject to specific terms and conditions, the terms of which take precedence over any representations in this document. No third party to whom this is passed can rely on it. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide herein and exclude liability for the content to fullest extent permitted by law. Should you require advice about your specific insurance arrangements or specific claim circumstances, please get in touch with your usual contact at Gallagher.