It is that time of year when our only concerns should be have we packed enough sun cream for our annual holiday. If you are stay-cationing however this year, perhaps the concern will be are your wellies water tight. Summer holidays should be the highlight of the year, when we can relax and forget about work for a week or two, but sometimes unwelcome issues crop up which try and spoil things. In this article I will highlight some problems which have occurred to some holidaymakers (although I hope they do not happen to you!) and the preventions/solutions to those problems.
Holidaymakers often think holiday insurance is an extra payment they could do without, particularly if they have paid out for a holiday when they have stretched themselves financially. I cannot stress how important insurance is when you are abroad. If you shop around, you can get very good deals, which will be the equivalent of a night out in the resort you are going to. Consider annual insurance which works out at even better value for money, particularly if you are lucky enough to have more than one trip abroad in a year. If you do not have insurance, and are unlucky enough to have an accident, it can cost tens of thousands of pounds to repatriate you back to the UK. That is assuming the country you are in will provide you with anything but the most basic of medical treatment in the first place.
Make sure you disclose any pre existing medical complaints you may have. If you do not, then that is a golden opportunity for the insurance company to deny cover. Even something as innocuous as having your wisdom teeth out 9 months beforehand needs to be disclosed, even if you think it is irrelevant. To the insurance company it will not be irrelevant!
Insurance companies will also have an exclusion clause if you injure yourself whilst under the influence of alcohol. Whilst people tend to drink more whilst they are on holiday, the insurance company will be looking at whether any incident was caused or made worse by the fact that the policyholder has been drinking excessively. That does not mean you are not entitled to treat yourself to the odd Sangria, but if you are going to get drunk, try not to lose that expensive camera or iPhone.
Hiring motorbikes or jet-skis is often not covered by insurance policies. There are many stories of holidaymakers hiring motorbikes for the day and crashing, either injuring themselves or other people. The hirers will often give a 5 minute lesson on how to ride the motorbike, whereas back in the UK you have to pass a driving test to be legally qualified on the road. Do check your policy to see whether you are covered for such activities.
Holiday companies often charge a supplement of 1 – 2% if you want to pay for your holiday by credit card as opposed to debit card. This can often add up to £50 or more which is an unwelcome addition to the cost of the holiday, but it is worth it. There is a huge difference between paying for a holiday with a credit card as opposed to a debit card, despite the fact they are made out of the same type of plastic.
A debit card payment is the equivalent of paying cash for something. You will have the same rights as someone who has paid cash, which puts you in a weak position if you are entitled to your money back for something. Being entitled to your money back, and actually receiving it are two very different things.
By contrast you have an enormous amount of protection by paying for goods or services by credit card, as long as that purchase is for more than £100. Any such purchase is governed by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If you are very unfortunate and the holiday company goes out of business either before or during your holiday, you will be entitled to your money back from the credit card company in full. This is in addition to your rights under the IATA or ABTA schemes. Several large holiday companies have gone out of business in recent years causing misery to those who had been looking forward for months to their well earned break. At least by recovering your money you can salvage your plans for going away to an alternative destination. If you are going to buy any item abroad then again, try and pay with your credit card (if it is for more than £100).
Buying an expensive piece of electrical equipment seems like a good idea at the time, but if it goes wrong it is a long way back to seek a repair or a refund if it stops working after 15 days! Section 75 comes to the rescue again as the credit card company are jointly and severally liable for any breach of contract that the seller of the goods may make, ie in this case selling goods which are not of satisfactory quality. In practice you reclaim your money from the credit card company, and they reclaim it from the merchant who sold the goods to you. It is a great deal easier for the credit card company to recover the money than it is for you.
You are even covered if you pay for products such as memberships for a holiday club. Whilst there are genuine holiday clubs in existence I have come across horror stories where people have been ripped off by unscrupulous companies. Skilled salespeople roam around tourist spots hoping to target tourists who are generally relaxed by offering them free drinks or gifts if they attend a “presentation” for a holiday scheme, which promotes huge discounts on future holidays for several years to come. When people are in holiday mode they are often tempted, particularly after a Gin & Tonic or two, to hand over several thousands of pounds to join such schemes. When they get back to the UK they often have difficulty in contacting the company, despite having been reassured they have UK offices. If they do manage to contact the company, then the promises made abroad do not materialise at all. The salespeople are very slick and skilled at relieving tourists of their money-even the most careful people are charmed out of several thousands of pounds. You do have the chance to get your money back if you have paid by credit card, whereas it is very difficult to reclaim the money if you have paid by debit card, once the cold light of day hits you upon your return to the UK. It is very strange how such a good idea in the sun becomes less attractive when you return home.
I hope this information is of assistance in considering the problems that can arise whilst on holiday. Please do not forget however that I only become involved in advising people when holidays do not go to plan. Thankfully a great majority of holidays take place without incident and do go to plan, and only a minimal percentage encounter any issues at all. So enjoy your holiday and take comfort that your credit card company is there as a back up should the need arise.