British tourists who cancel trips abroad because of the heat 'may not get a refund'

19 July 2023, 15:29

It may be difficult to claim a refund if you cancel a holiday because of the heat
It may be difficult to claim a refund if you cancel a holiday because of the heat. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

British tourists who cancel trips abroad because of scorching heat in Europe are unlikely to get their money back, an expert has said.

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Some parts of Italy, Spain and Greece have become dangerously hot amid successive heatwaves this week.

Many holiday resorts in those Mediterranean countries have issued health warnings to guests to stay safe in the hot weather.

Some British tourists have decided to cut short their holidays and come home amid the sweltering heat, or even cancel the trips before they fly out.

Sally Urwin, 49, and her two sons decided to come home from a £2,500 holiday in Greece three days early, after enduring temperatures above 40C.

Beach-goers in Barcelona
Beach-goers in Barcelona. Picture: Getty

But it may be difficult to get money back if you end your holiday because of the heat.

Consumer rights expert Martyn James said tourists are mostly unlikely to get quick refunds if they decide against going on holiday.

People who come home early may have more luck, he said.

If the weather is so hot that your health is being affected, you may get some money back through your insurance policy's "curtailment" clause.

Read more: Fears over holiday flights as expert warns planes can struggle to take off in searing heat

Read more: One month of rain to fall in just 48 hours this weekend as UK prepares for 'washout summer'

Three large wildfires have been burning outside of Athens in Greece
Three large wildfires have been burning outside of Athens in Greece. Picture: Alamy

But if you cancel your trip before you go on holiday, you are unlikely to get a refund because most insurance policies do not have a "disinclination to travel" clause.

That means you have to provide a serious reason for not going - which could be government advice against travelling to a certain country.

"As soon as official guidance says it is dangerous to travel, that is when the 'curtailment' clauses for refunds kick in," Mr James said.

But the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is not currently advising against travelling to Spain, Italy or Greece because of the heat.

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Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "If you have a medical condition that makes you particularly vulnerable to the heat and is covered under your travel insurance policy, you might be able to make a cancellation claim on this basis, but it would help your case to have a medical professional's opinion about your fitness to travel."

If your airline or holiday provider cancels the trip then you should be able to get a refund.

But flights and holiday packages are continuing as normal, the Association of British Travel Agents has said.

If any events booked as part of your trip are cancelled, you should also be able to get money back.

Mr Boland: "If paid-for events and activities are cancelled because of the heatwave while you're on holiday and you can't recoup your money from the providers, you may also be able to claim for these costs from some insurers."