Essential tips for leisure travellers
Who are BL Claims Solicitors
BL Claims Solicitors specialise in personal injury, clinical negligence and travel claims, providing our clients with hands-on support, nationally.
We are rated as one of the top firms in the UK and believe in speaking to our clients in jargon-free language and ensuring you're speaking to a highly qualified lawyer right from the outset
As we are nearing spring and commencing the inevitable march towards Easter, we have compiled some essential tips for those intending to travel in the near future.
As we are specialists in travel law, which encompasses a range of accidents abroad and any type of cross border-litigation, we come across a lot of cases where holidays have gone wrong.
The following tips are applicable whether you are popping abroad for a quick city break or planning the holiday of a lifetime encompassing 32 different countries.
Get comprehensive travel insurance
Surveys have shown an astonishing 48% of Brits do not realise that they are not covered for hospital bills and medical treatment if they do not have comprehensive travel insurance. As with a lot of things, you get what you pay for.
- Make sure to read the terms and conditions. We know they can be boring, but if the territorial limits of the policy only include EU States, you will not be covered in Turkey or Egypt!
- Make sure that any sports you are planning to do are also covered winter sports or activities such as white water rafting and bungee jumping may require special cover.
- Ask yourself whether you could afford a £10,000 repatriation flight if you have a nasty injury and cannot board a normal aircraft?
- For all those would-be globetrotters, think about specialist backpacking insurance. Those who do travel with good insurance need to be aware that injuries or difficulties they get into may not be covered if they occur as a result of their own reckless behaviour. Balcony jumpers, or 'tombstoners' are an example of such reckless behaviour.
Renting a villa abroad
- Ensure the website is a legitimate entity. Just googling the name of the website with the words "complaint" next to it can produce some interesting results. Legitimate holiday rental websites are not generally liable for any financial losses you have suffered as a result of falling victim to a scam, even if the criminal has used the site fraudulently. They simply provide a service for advertising holiday accommodation, and are under no obligation to carry out security checks to verify whether advertisers genuinely have holiday property available.
- Some legitimate web sites have now reacted by offering insurance against bogus advertisers. Think about protecting yourself. If you are paying £6,000 for a holiday villa by bank transfer, would an insurance policy with fraud protection give you the peace of mind needed?
- Make sure you read the terms and conditions of the insurance policy, some have certain measures which you need to have done before they will pay out. Please use common sense. If the listing advertises an amazing price for a 16-room chateau in France, it may well be a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
- A con man is likely to ask for the price of the rental upfront and also ask you to send it by bank transfer to a foreign bank account. If the IBAN (the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is an internationally agreed means of identifying bank accounts across national borders.) has any other suffix than "GB", consider whether there are any alarm bells ringing.
Visa's and travel documents
Think about making photocopies of your travel and identification documents, especially if you are going to countries where pick pocketing is rife. Ensure you have the necessary visas and double-check. The number of people who are disappointed because they have not been allowed to board that once-in-a-lifetime cruise is astonishing, and as entry papers are your responsibility, you may not even get a refund.
Package holiday or no package holiday?
Package holidays may not suit everyone. However, they have unique protection features in that you can bring a claim against a UK tour operator in a UK country if something goes wrong. Do not underestimate this protection. In addition, tour operators have a greater duty of care and the obligation to refund or rebook a holiday in certain circumstances.
A package holiday is a holiday that is sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price for transport, accommodation and other ancillary tourist services. The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (the 1992 Regulations) make a tour operator liable for the acts or omissions of its suppliers (airline, hotel, local bus company etc.) where there is a failure to exercise reasonable care and skill. Whether or not there is a failure is judged against local standards or regulations in the Country where the holiday takes place.
Do not assume that you are buying a package holiday when you pick and choose elements of your booking (the so-called dynamic package). In those cases, the most you will get is ATOL protection. ATOL offers protection to consumers in the event that the travel company supplier of that element they have booked goes bust while they are on holiday or before they travel. The CAA administered scheme ensures refunds are provided and repatriations arranged.
However, the obligations on an ATOL provider are nowhere near the same as a tour operator under the Package Regulations.
Think about whether booking excursions ahead makes sense
The recent ballooning accident in Egypt has brought this into sharp focus. Whether you are planning on whale watching, quad biking or ballooning on your holiday, we would strongly recommend you consider whether a cash payment to a stall owner in the local Egyptian medina really offers you the protection you seek and expect. What insurance do they have? And, if they do have insurance, what do you think the limits of the insurance will be?
If things go wrong, you would need to bring an action against an individual or a company in Egypt which is not easy. Quite apart from the difficulties of bringing such an action in second or third World countries, damages are far less generous that the UK in a lot of countries and in some countries there are no damages for pain and suffering at all.
It is always much safer to book the excursion at the same time as the rest of a package holiday. If the excursion forms part of the pre-booked package then if things go wrong, you will be able to pursue the UK tour operator with whom you have a contract. Not all excursions which are booked before you leave the UK will form part of the pre-booked package. For example, your holiday may not be a 'package' in the legal sense or the company selling the excursion may simply be acting as the agent for a local provider.
Problems with flights
Whole books have been written about flights, amongst others there can be problems with ash clouds, cancellations, delays and even snakes on the plane! Much depends on where in the world you are and whether your carrier is an EU based airline.
Briefly, within the European Union consumers have an entitlement to compensation if a flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked (so-called denied boarding). This area of law is largely guided by consumer-friendly EU Regulations. Delays of more than 3 hours result in fixed compensation which you can apply to your airline for. EU Regulations also provide for fixed compensation in genuine cases of cancellation. Should you find yourself in a situation such as the above, you may find the website http://www.airpassengerrights.eu useful.
BL Claims Solicitors are here to help
If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org