Lifestyle Guides

Holiday cancellation cover

Make sure you are protected if you have to call off your holiday by adding holiday cancellation cover to your insurance. Here's how it works.


We all know that feeling you get when you’ve booked a holiday and start counting the sleeps! But, unfortunately, life sometimes has other plans and your excitement could soon evaporate if you have to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances.

Having holiday cancellation cover included in your travel insurance won’t take away the disappointment, but getting back any money you’ve already paid will certainly lessen the blow – especially if it enables you to reschedule later in the year. 

What is holiday cancellation cover?

Holiday cancellation cover is a type of insurance that protects you against something unexpected happening, either before you set off on your travels or during your trip. It is included as standard with some travel insurance policies, but not all, so don’t assume you have it as you might find yourself heavily out of pocket.

The level of cover provided and the excess you might have to pay also varies widely between insurers and between policies. For example, we offer three types of travel insurance: Admiral, Admiral Gold and Admiral Platinum. Our standard policy offers cover of up to £1,500 if you have to cancel or cut short your trip, our Gold policy up to £2,500 and Platinum up to £5,000. And the higher the level of cover you have, the more the excess reduces too.

Admiral pays up to the policy limits shown in your schedule for irrecoverable costs, including deposits or package holiday cancellation charges, accommodation and travel costs, car hire, excursions and activities, reasonable cancellation charges for kennel, cattery or professional pet sitter costs and car parking fees.

When should I buy holiday cancellation insurance?

The short answer is: as soon as you’ve booked your trip, as things could change unexpectedly at any point between booking and you leaving home to start your journey.

Unforeseen circumstances could include you or a holiday companion becoming too ill to travel, or a close family member (usually a parent, sibling or child) becoming seriously ill or dying. If you are pregnant and complications occur, your doctor might advise you not to travel, or you may also be quarantined or called to court as a witness or to do jury service and are unable to postpone it. If you or your travel companion are a member of the British Armed Forces or emergency services, leave might be postponed too.

Our holiday cancellation cover also applies if you’re made involuntarily redundant from a job you have held for two years or more, as well as if your home is seriously damaged by fire, storm or flood or is burgled in the seven days before your trip departure. If your passport or visa is stolen in a burglary at home in the seven days before you’re due to depart and you can’t get a replacement in time, you’re covered too.

Once your holiday has started, you might need to curtail it (cut it short) if you or a member of your party are taken seriously ill and need to come home. You might hear while you’re away that a close member of your family has been taken ill or passed away, and this would also be included under your curtailment cover.

Holiday cancellation cover is paid as a lump sum if your trip is cancelled or curtailed. If it’s the latter, the sum will reflect the days remaining of your holiday that you miss, not the whole holiday.

When can I make a claim if my holiday is cancelled?

With Admiral’s single trip insurance, cancellation cover begins from the date the policy was issued. If you have our annual multi-trip travel insurance, you’re covered from the date the policy begins.

Contact us if you need to make a claim. If your holiday is cancelled due to a serious illness, pregnancy complications or an accident, we will probably ask for a medical certificate from the doctor or hospital.

If you need to cancel due to another reason, such as jury service, we will ask for supporting evidence from the court or other relevant authorities. We will also ask for evidence of costs incurred, such as unused tickets and receipts. All documents must be sent to us at your own expense.

If you have an annual travel insurance policy with Admiral and you book a trip that’s due to start after your current policy ends, your cover will only apply up to the policy end date, unless you renew the policy on or before the expiry date.

Are there any exclusions to holiday cancellation cover?

As with all kinds of insurance, you need to read your policy documents carefully to check what is and isn’t covered. If, for example, if you or anyone travelling with you has a pre-existing medical condition at the start of your policy or when you booked your trip – whichever came later – and you don’t tell us about it, we won’t be able to pay a claim if your holiday is cancelled or cut short because of it.

You won’t be able to make a claim if you had reason to believe the trip might be cancelled, postponed or cut short when you booked it (e.g. you were aware of a poorly relative at the time of booking the holiday or when purchasing your insurance), or if you change your mind and simply decide you no longer want to go!

We also exclude claims in cases where the Foreign Office has advised against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’. Similarly, if there has been a catastrophe – such as a hurricane, storm, avalanche, volcanic activity or ash cloud – at your destination but the authorities say it is safe to travel or stay there, your cancellation cover won’t apply. Your airline or tour operator may be able to offer an alternative destination or travel at a later date, however.

Other exclusions include cancelling your travels due to unemployment that you were aware might occur when you booked your trip, your misconduct, resignation or voluntary redundancy, not having the correct passport or visa and travelling against the advice of a doctor.

Your holiday cancellation cover also might not pay for things like airport taxis and air passenger duty, so, again, it’s best to read the policy in full and speak to our advisors if you’re unsure of anything at all.

Note that holiday cancellation insurance is not to be confused with cancellation of travel insurance! When you take out any insurance policy, you have a ‘cooling off’ period, which gives you the right to change your mind if you decide that the product doesn’t meet your requirements. Your rights are fully detailed in the policy documents we’ll send you.

Once your travel insurance with holiday cancellation cover is in place, the countdown begins! All that’s left to do is your packing and to read our ultimate holiday checklist, to ensure you have all you need to make your trip a memorable one – for all the right reasons!