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Does travel insurance cover strikes?

We explain more about travel insurance and whether strike action is covered by all UK insurers

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 28 April 2023

4 min read

Does travel insurance cover strikes?

After years of cancelled holidays and restricted travel due to Covid-19, the travel industry has now started to bounce back. This is exciting and many people will be eagerly looking forward to their next big trip away.

We’ve all heard stories about people’s travel plans being thrown into chaos when an airline or airport decides to go on strike. The main question here is would your travel insurance cover you if this happens?

A lot of people take out travel insurance expecting to be covered for every situation but is this really the case?

We’re going to explain a little more about travel insurance and whether strike or industrial action is covered by all UK insurers.

SUMMARY: With the average cost of a holiday being hundreds if not thousands of pounds, you don’t want to lose out. It is always best to make sure you are 100% certain of what your travel insurance covers you for.

Does travel insurance cover strike action?

You’ll be glad to hear that yes, usually you will be covered for delays or cancellations caused by strikes. This includes cover for strikes by airline staff or airport staff.

However, it is important to note that certain insurers won’t include strike cover in their policies and won’t approve claims for this reason.

We always suggest reading the terms and conditions of any insurance policy carefully before making a purchase. You don’t want to end up without enough cover (or paying more for a higher level of cover than you really need!). You can also speak to a travel insurance expert for more advice about which policy is right for you.

Travel insurance provides protection for a wide range of events, with some policies offering more extensive cover than others. Common issues covered by travel insurance policies include:

  • Lost luggage
  • Lost or stolen passport
  • Medical expenses if taken ill
  • Cancellations

The prospect of travel delays, strikes and cancellations can cause a lot of worry when planning a holiday. You don’t want to find out a few weeks or even days before you are due to travel that your airline is now not flying on that day.

This could leave you stuck at home having lost hundreds of pounds in hotel costs and planned activities. You might even end up stranded in the country you are visiting and having to pay out extra for somewhere to stay until an alternative flight can be arranged.

Many travel insurance policies will cover you in the event the airline you are due to fly with (or the airport) goes on strike, causing travel disruptions. If your flight is delayed for 24 hours or more or completely, you will have a good chance of a making a valid claim.

The key thing to remember is to buy travel insurance as soon as you can after booking a holiday. While a lot of policies would cover strikes, they won’t pay out if you bought the policy after the strike has already been announced. Travel insurance won’t cover you for ‘known events’ as it is intended to protect you against unexpected problems.

Does travel insurance cover train strikes?

You might be planning a UK staycation where air travel isn’t needed or maybe you are thinking of getting the Eurostar. Either way it is valid to wonder if you’re covered for losses if trains were to go on strike.

There have been many train strikes in recent months, so it’s very understandable to be worried this could impact future trips you have planned.

The answer for this sadly isn’t too clear and it could be worth opting for cancellation insurance rather than standard travel insurance if worried about train strikes.

Ticket provider Trainline offers Ticket Cancellation Insurance when booking trips with them. Ticket Cancellation Insurance works to protect you in the event of your journey being cancelled due to strikes, weather conditions and more. You will also be covered if you need to cancel your journey for various other reasons including illness or redundancy.

Does all travel insurance cover strikes?

No, not all insurance providers or all policies will cover strikes. It is always best to double check your policy to see what you are covered for. Ideally you should check before buying but you should at least check before trying to claim and then finding out your claim is invalid.

If you find out your next trip will be delayed or cancelled due to strike action, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  1. Don’t panic and try and get as much information as you can about what is happening
  2. Check the airline, train company, cruise company or tour operator’s website and get in contact for more information if needed
  3. Contact your travel insurance provider if you think you have a valid claim
  4. Remember, airlines legally must reimburse you for cancelled flights and package holidays should also be refunded if the package provider cancels your holiday (if they are ATOL protected)
  5. If you booked your trip via a credit card, your bank may be able to help you get your money back if you have been misled or the travel company is refusing to refund you

You might be able to claim on your policy for the following events that have been caused by strikes:

  • Journey cancellation
  • Delays
  • Missed departures (e.g. connecting flights)
  • Itinerary changes or missed port departures (cruise cover)

Note: If you have had two or more weeks’ notice that the strike is taking place, you won’t be entitled to claim on your policy. You also won’t be able to claim if the travel operator has offered you a suitable alternative journey.

Resources

Office for National Statistics – Impact of strikes in the UK: June 2022 to February 2023

Civil Aviation Authority – UK Airline data

UK Parliament – Disruptions and delays at airports

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