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Does your travel insurance cover airline strikes?

Isobel Lawrance 25th Jul 2022 No Comments

Reading Time: 6 minutes

After all the air strikes last summer, we often get asked – does your travel insurance cover airline strikes?

Recently, it emerged around 40% of travel insurers do not cover airline strikes. In fact, most types of strike – whether it be train or plane are not covered by a huge number of insurance providers.

Whilst strikes are a huge pain, they are not your fault. Therefore, it is important to know whether you are covered and financially protected and how to receive airline compensation if this has happened or could happen to you in future.


Check your insurance policy

If you are already covered by travel insurance, the first step is to check whether your plan covers strike action. Each policy is different, so check the policy of every person travelling – even if you are with the same provider.

Citizen’s Advice offers an amazing article which details all the steps you can take to claim compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight, and the circumstances under which a claim is likely to be awarded to you.

Contact your insurance provider directly and ask them for a copy of your insurance policy (if you don’t have it already). Once you have received this, go through it with a fine-tooth comb to see if there is any mention of what happens when your flight is delayed or cancelled due to strike action.

If nothing is stated specifically about strikes, contact your provider again and ask them to go through the document with you whilst it is in front of you. This is helpful as there may be jargon and wording on your policy which is hard to understand. Phrases such as ‘Industrial Action’ or ‘Travel Abandonment’ may be needed within your policy to be covered.

Travel Insurance Explained has a great page all about policy wording, which explains certain terms and wording to look out for in your policy.

Getting the right protection

“Given all the ongoing chaos, not just here in the UK, but also the industrial disputes flaring up in multiple popular holiday destinations, we’ll be hit all summer by layers and layers of travel complications.” Says Neil Wright, managing director of leading award-winning travel insurer, Cedar Tree.

“So, I’d advise looking at adding Travel Disruption cover to a standard policy. This type of cover starts from as little as 66p* on a Cedar Tree policy, you’d be mad not to invest in this.”

*Based on a single-trip policy to France for a long weekend.


Finding travel insurance

If you do not yet have travel insurance, it is important to note you may not be covered if strikes were announced before you got the insurance. Similarly, if the strike was planned before you booked your trip, your cover may be void in this circumstance.

The best way to find a suitable travel insurance policy is to put a little time aside to really shop around. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of price comparison websites out there, such as MoneySuperMarket and Compare The Market. These are useful for being able to compare different prices for your travel insurance. However, many insurers offer an even better rate when you book direct through them and not via an aggregate. Many of their best policies are in fact not available through third parties.

There are also travel insurance specific websites, which are great not only for comparing the cost of different types of cover, but what each policy includes. Currently, it is not only important to think about cover for strike action, but delays and cancellations due to staff shortage, as well as cover in the incident you become unwell with Covid-19. These are things to keep in mind when considering which policy to go for.

Cedar Tree offer policies which cover a wide range of Covid-19 risks as standard. In fact, their coronavirus cover is so good, it is award winning. There are very few insurers which offer such comprehensive and in-depth covid-19 cover. This is definitely something worth checking out.


Some providers may offer cover for industrial action as part of their standard insurance and coverage plans. However, some may not, and you may need to pay slightly extra to receive add-ons such as this.

However, it is likely not to be a huge additional cost (perhaps a few pounds). You will be thankful you did if you find yourself in a sticky situation due to strikes.


Planning ahead

planning ahead

So, you have your flight booked, you are excited for your holiday and ready to go. There has been no confirmation of strike action affecting your specific flight – yet. But the news is rife with stories of flight cancellations, delays and airline workers taking strike action. It is worrying and can leave you feeling doubtful.

So, what can you do in this situation? Take a deep breath, make a cup of tea and take it step by step.

The best thing to do is to contact the airline you are flying with directly. Ask them about any upcoming industrial action and ask whether your flight could be impacted. They may not know for sure, but it’s worth asking.

Please note – if the strike is happening through the airline, for example air stewards and stewardesses are striking, then the airline is obligated to compensate you themselves. If the strikes are by workers not directly employed by the airline, the airline is not obligated to compensate you. This may be baggage loading staff, for example.

This is why it is important to ensure you have travel insurance which will cover you in the instance of flight disruption.

Booking websites

If you booked your holiday or trip through a third party, such as Lastminute.com or Booking.com, contact them. Ask them what would happen if you were to experience travel disruption as the result of industrial action. They will be able to guide you through the process and let you know the plan of action if something does happen.

External tour operators which are UK-based must sign up to a protection type called ATOL. This means the company are responsible for finding alternative travel arrangements or reschedule your holiday altogether where required.

It is good to know what will happen in this scenario, so you know exactly which steps to take. This way, you can get the compensation you are rightfully owed.

Neil Wright of Cedar Tree says:

‘I would always advise a client to go direct to a reputable brand. Apart from the reason that you highlight, taking ownership of problems, the cover levels are usually better as most of the Aggs listings are based on price which means that the cover is usually reduced in order to hit a price point. If a client comes directly to Cedar Tree and purchase a Platinum policy they enjoy a £0 excess, are able to add on travel disruption cover if desired, plus if they are a member of the loyalty club they are entitled to a discount of up to 20%. The aggregator systems usually mean that the cover descriptions are vague and the journey through their site is not as thorough as coming onto our direct site.’

What the experts say

Neil Wright, managing director of leading award-winning travel insurer, Cedar Tree says:

“Read the fine print in their policies, you may just find some insurers provide additional benefits as part of a standard policy. For example, a Cedar Tree policy will, at no extra charge, extend the policy benefits, for instance medical, luggage and liability, should your flight be cancelled or changed on your return.”


Changing your flight

If a strike is likely to happen, do not cancel your flight. There is not much point, as you may not get your money back. If your flight is cancelled due to a strike, you will be able to get a refund from the airline for this.

Similarly, if you have been told more than two weeks in advance of your flight that a strike is going to take place when you are planning to fly, airlines will often offer you an alternative flight or date. If there is less than two weeks’ notice of a strike happening, or you are stranded on holiday as the result of a strike, you may be compensated financially or in the form of accommodation or food, paid for by the airline.

Shop around and seek alternative options for flights, travel and even destinations if you are concerned about strike action. However, it is ideal to hold off before doing anything hasty. You might not know whether your flight is definitely going ahead or not. Plus, you may have to pay to change your flight.


Key tips

  • Double check your insurance policy for mention of airline strikes. If you are unsure, contact your provider directly.
  • Pay for your ticket with a credit card is possible. This is beneficial as you are covered for purchases between £100 and £30,000. The credit card company can reimburse you under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
  • Get travel insurance, if you haven’t already! Going directly through the insurers means you are more likely to find the best deals and direct cover.
  • As an additional step to make sure you are covered in all scenarios. Check to see if your travel insurance covers Covid-19 related cancellations and other disruption. Many travel insurance policies do not cover for this.


Additional key considerations

Neil Wright, managing director of leading award-winning travel insurer, Cedar Tree has shared some important tips on this:

  • EHIC: Brexit means UK travellers are no longer covered by EHIC and will be responsible for their own medical costs.  Travel insurance will cover this  
  • Book travel insurance immediately: when you book your holiday, book your travel insurance, that way you have immediate cover if there are travel disruptions, including you falling ill with Covid and no longer able to travel. 
  • Remember: some countries, e.g. Thailand, Turkey and Morocco now require you to show proof of travel insurance as part of their entry rules.  
  • Book direct: you can often get better cover, e.g. travel disruption cover by booking directly with the travel insurer and not via any aggregators. 

 Disclaimer: This Post is sponsored by Cedar Tree 

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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