Europe heatwave: Can I cancel my summer holiday because it’s too hot?
As temperatures in southern Europe remain exceptionally high families about to jet off on their summer break may now be wondering whether they should travel.
But with no specific warnings from the Foreign Office what are your options?
Is it safe to travel?
ABTA – The Association of British Travel Agents – says all flights, holidays and package deals are continuing to run as normal despite the persistent heatwave testing some countries including Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey.
The Foreign Office is also not telling anyone that they shouldn’t be going on holiday because of the heat.
Instead officials say those heading for parts of southern Europe where the heatwave continues, should follow all local advice when they get to their destination and keep across the latest Foreign Office messages on the government website.
Can I cancel my holiday because it’s too hot?
The short answer is no.
While the weather may appear unbearably hot and feel unworkable – particularly if you have a young family – there is nothing in travel insurance policies that would cover you.
And with no specific Foreign Office advice telling you not to travel – like there was in the pandemic - there is essentially no reason not to go unless you fit into other categories within the cancellation policy such as experiencing illness, bereavement or an accident.
If your cancellation is purely because you don’t think you can face the rocketing temperatures unfortunately there is little your insurance cover can do to help.
Travel agent Chris Scoble from Go Scoble explained: “ I’m afraid to say this travel insurance will not pay out for this.
“They will call this a ‘disinclination’ to travel rather than an actual issue that stops you travelling.”
The only exception may be if you have a medical condition which might prevent you travelling or holidaying in the heat – and this would need to have been declared with your insurance provider in advance when you took out the policy. You are also likely to now require a doctor’s letter or certificate as proof that you can’t now go as a result of the heatwave.
If you think you may fit this criteria for a claim - the advice is to speak with your insurers before making any alterations to your booking.
What are my options if I don’t want to go?
Most travel operators will charge you the bulk of your booking if you cancel at the last minute.
It’s unlikely that airlines will also reimburse you if you choose not to take a flight you’re booked onto as these are circumstances beyond their control.
If you’ve booked a hotel through a website like booking.com it may be possible to cancel up to a certain number of days or hours in advance – but this will be dependent on the booking that you made and the terms you signed-up to at the time.
Can I postpone my holiday?
Whether you can postpone or move your booking will depend on who you booked with and when you’re due to travel.
Some tour operators – if you’ve booked a package deal – may allow you to move or transfer your booking.
But this could depend on the terms and conditions of your holiday, how close your trip is and you may still incur administration fees or additional costs should the holiday you want to replace it with be more expensive so this too is worth bearing in mind.
Travellers who have booked their holiday separately – perhaps including flights directly with the airline, sepearate transfers and then a stay through an accommodation provider - will find it harder to move all aspects of their booking because of the weather.
Or they may find that they can cancel one aspect – such as the hotel accommodation – but are unable to make any changes to their booked flights which means they will need to travel anyway or lose the money.
If I travel but the heat makes me unwell can I get help?
If you’re unwell while you’re on holiday because of the heat, providing you’ve travel insurance, you will be covered to seek medical help.
Your travel policy should have a 24-hour number you can call to get instructions and advice, which you should keep close to hand.
The ABI – or Association of British Insurers – says anyone requiring immediate help should head for the nearest emergency medical facility taking with them all travel and insurance documents if possible. Before then contacting their insurers as soon as it is safe to do so.
If you hold a current European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to get state-provided health care when visiting the EU, this continues to be valid until it expires despite our exit from the EU.
After your card has expired, or if you do not have an EHIC, you must instead apply for a Global Health Insurance Card before your holiday. This is free and can be done in the same way as an EHIC – through the NHS website.
However it is worth noting that neither card is a replacement for travel insurance as it will not cover you for all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.