If you had a biking holiday planned in Europe, or indeed anywhere else in 2020 but you find yourself stranded at home, can you demand refunds for deposits paid or tickets booked?
Well first let me tell you I share your pain – as I write I should be on my Husqvarna 701 on the Portuguese leg of the Trans Euro Trail but instead I am in warm Blighty with my bikes sitting idle on trickle chargers. Next, the answer depends on several factors…
If a ferry trip is cancelled by the carrier you are entitled to a full refund. If you cancel then the terms and conditions of your booking will determine what, if any, refund you are entitled to.
In my own case I cancelled my Brittany Ferry travelling to Santander but with poor timing, because a week or so later, Brittany cancelled it anyway, so I took a hit of 30% of the ticket.
The rules operate on an EU level and travel between EU ports is covered by strong consumer rights. British ports still count as EU ports until 2021, subject to any further extensions.
Post the Brexit extension such safeguards will be a matter for the UK government but if you sail to an EU port with an EU registered carrier even following a complete ‘no deal’ exit, you will be covered by EU law.
Bear that in mind for booking next year along with your green card and international driving permit. There are safety exemptions for a foul weather cancellation, but otherwise, if your trip is cancelled you are entitled to a refund.
What if you just don’t go?
However, if the carrier can carry you, but you choose not to go, or local conditions are such that you cannot travel freely on arrival, then if the carrier can fulfil their obligations, then you have no legal right outside of your contract to be refunded.
Travel insurance is very much more fact dependent, what cover you have determines what is insured. A generic position for every policy is impossible, but insurance policies tend to follow similar lines. Most travel insurance policies will payout, subject to an excess, if you cancel travel to a foreign land based on government advice.
COVID Excemptions on Travel Insurance
I have already had COVID exemptions imposed on my own travel insurance policy which came up for renewal in May 2020. The rule of thumb is that a travel insurer with a policy pre-dating March 2020 will allow for a refund of lost fares to a destination on the government list of unwise destinations.
Most policies will not extricate you if you travel against government advice. This is for commercial reasons. A cancelled ferry ticket is a lot cheaper than 12 days in foreign intensive care.
As with all insurance, the fundamental rights are contained within the terms of your contract, and the factors which determine how your contract is written are an interplay between the costs of your premium, the risks that you are covered for, and the costs of remedying situations you might find yourself in.
Also be alert to your policy of travel insurance as many exclude motorcycles in their entirety – some will allow cover for small capacity motorcycles, subject to the wearing of ‘appropriate protective clothing,’ many exclude hospital treatment arising from the use of a motorcycle, and especially larger capacity bikes.
Bike Magazine August 2020