Can I get a refund?

Lisa has read dire warnings about her destination and wants to know if she can get refunds on her airfares and accommodation because of recent terrorist activity in Sri Lanka.

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Q. Lisa
I have booked a trip to Sri Lanka departing 16 June. I had not purchased my travel insurance yet and heard the news of the bombings. I have already paid for my accommodation and airfare (some of which cannot be cancelled). DFAT warnings say I should reconsider my need to travel, but it will put me out of pocket to the tune of thousands.

Am I able to claim refunds in this situation? What can I do? Can I be forced to travel?

A. Smartraveller tries to stress the importance of buying travel insurance as soon as people make travel arrangements and book their flights, tours or accommodation. Travel insurance covers more than medical or other costs resulting from unexpected incidents or accidents overseas. This is an important message for all Australians travelling overseas.

Whilst the traveller still only pays for the period in which they are travelling, they will have cover from the moment they buy their policy. For instance, if they buy two months before they fly, they have free cover for the two months in lead up to the travel plans for any events that affect their travel plans, depending on the policy they take out.

Unfortunately for your reader, without having taken out a travel insurance policy at the time of booking, they are limited to liaising with the airline and third-party providers to either try to change the bookings or receive a credit if they do not wish to travel. It will be at the insurer’s discretion whether they honour the request. We would also like to bring it to the attention of our followers that some travel insurance policies won’t cover cancellation expenses in the event of terrorism – so it is important to read the fine print when taking out a comprehensive travel insurance policy to ensure the policy holder understands the exclusions.

The CHOICE travel insurance buying guide is available on the Smartraveller website and is a useful guide to travellers considering which travel insurance is right for them.

If you have a travel SOS question, email it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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