The collapse of
another airline earlier this week left more passengers stranded, many of them
without enough travel insurance to cover them for making alternative
arrangements. Slovakian airline
SkyEurope, which flew out of London Luton and Manchester, suspended flights on
Tuesday with immediate effect leaving many passengers out of pocket and far
The rise in low cost flights has meant that many people have chosen to book their flights and accommodation independently of a travel agent. In fact, according to a Minitel report on the travel agency industry, package holidays now account for only 41 per cent of the overseas holiday market. However, although being an independent traveller may offer significant savings on your holiday, it does mean that you need to pay extra attention to the level of cover that your travel insurance offers you.
If you book your holiday through a reputable travel agency, they will have taken measures to protect you against commercial failure, either their own or that of one of their suppliers (such as the airline or hotel company). They are then known as a 'bonded' travel agent which effectively means that they have taken out an insurance policy that you, as one of their clients, are able to benefit from. In the UK, travel agencies are bonded with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) or the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).
According to the Minitel report, 2.72m independent holidays were booked last year by UK travellers. Considering the number of low cost airlines that have folded since the credit crunch began and taking into consideration that the travel products on the market do not all reflect this increased independence, it's likely that many of these travellers will have fallen victim to a lack of travel cover.
Steve Price, M&S Head of General Insurance, said: "Whilst passengers booking flights as part of a package holiday enjoy protection in the event of an airline collapse, travellers booking flights independently can often find themselves stranded and out of pocket. Traditional policies may not cover the increasing variety of eventualities faced by the modern traveller. M&S are among the providers offering an 'Independent Traveller' insurance policy.
Policies that target the self-sufficient traveller should include, but not necessarily be limited to compensation to cover accommodation and travel expenses as a result of flight delays, unused accommodation costs if you should cancel your flight, and protection against the company going bankrupt, natural disasters or disease outbreaks in your destination of choice. If you are planning a trip without the assistance of a travel agency, make sure that the travel insurance you choose does specifically cater for your needs, because many will assume that you'll have a certain level of protection from a travel agency.