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What Is Curtailment? Do All Insurance Policies Cover It?

Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance Expert
Last updated: 13 May 2024 | Created: 30 August 2018


Holiday Curtailment Insurance: Panroamic of beach in Thailand

As the author Hans Christian Andersen said: “To travel is to live.”

And we Brits tend to agree, with 15% of us holidaying abroad in 2017.

The vast majority of us had a great time, but even the best laid plans can go awry for unexpected reasons…

David Cameron had to cut two holidays short when he was Prime Minister, because he could not get any signal on his mobile in the West Country!

Prime Ministers can probably shrug off the costs of cutting short holidays. But for most of us, it can not only be disappointing but costly if we do not have the right travel insurance.

The process of bringing a holiday to a premature end is known as ‘Curtailment’ in the insurance industry. And in this article we explain exactly what Curtilament covers, so that even if you do need to cut short a holiday, you’re fully prepared.

Holiday Curtailment Insurance: Senior couple on a beach

What is curtailment?

Curtailment occurs when you are on holiday and have to return home earlier than planned for reasons beyond your control. These can include:

  • Injury or illness to you or a member of your party while on holiday
  • A close relative at home dying, or suffering serious illness or injury
  • A business partner or other close associate dying or falling seriously ill
  • A fire, flood or burglary or other disaster that makes your home uninhabitable
  • Your passport, or that of a member of your party, being lost or stolen, resulting in you being unable to continue your trip
  • Being summoned as a witness in court or for jury service
  • Being ordered to report for duty if you or a member of your party are in the armed services, emergency services or government service

Why curtailment is different to cancellation

It is important to draw a distinction between cancellation and curtailment.

Quite simply, cancellation cover is for when you cannot embark on a booked holiday – where as curtailment cover is in place for when you need to cut short a holiday.

You can opt to exclude cancellation cover from a policy, but curtailment cover remains in place.

What can you claim for?

You can claim back a refund to compensate you for the portion of your holiday that has been paid for but not taken. Or for additional costs incurred for you coming home early. It is important to note the different cover limits for curtailment from each provider. As this will also determine how much of a refund you can claim back. Here are examples of events you can claim for:

  • The value of accommodation or travel arrangements which have not been used (e.g. hotel bookings or ski hire)
  • Additional accomodation, or travelling expenses required incurred by you for returning to your home country
  • The cost of replacing a carer (e.g. up to £1,000 on AllClear Gold or Gold Plus)

Holiday Curtailment Insurance Policy: Kid on a plane

What can’t you claim for?

Our job is to provide support and advice when things go wrong, and to help the claims handler process your claim efficiently.

However, we and the claims handler will need your help in collecting evidence, and will be unlikely to pay out on a claim if, for example:

  1. You do not obtain a medical certificate that confirms the curtailment of your trip is medically necessary
  2. You do no report the theft of a passport to the authorities. Or if you cannot produce evidence – such as a police report – to support this

Exclusions around pregnancy

Across most travel insurance policies, you are only covered for pregnancy up to a certain number of weeks.

For example, on AllClear Gold and Gold Plus policies, you are covered up to 32 weeks into a single pregnancy or 24 weeks into a multiple pregnancy.

After these timelines, you would be ineligible to make a claim in relation to pregnancy. However, you can be covered for medical complications related to pregnancy! So check your policy wording to confirm which ones.

Exclusions around terrorism

Most policies will not cover terrorism as standard, but will provide some cover on an event-by-event basis. Your airline or the government should also be able to offer support in getting you home in the event a terrorism event causes you to cut short your trip.

Holiday Curtailment Insurance: Mum and child at airport

So what should you do if you have to curtail your holiday?

How to get your arrangements in order

If you have to cut your holiday short due to unforeseen circumstances, make sure that you:

  • Notify the emergency assistance helpline of your travel insurance before making any arrangements to come home. This is important to get advice and to check what isn’t covered before you start making your own plans
  • Obtain medical certificates and any other documentation, such as receipts, to support your claim for medical curtailment. It is important that any medical certificate states that curtailment is medically necessary
  • Report lost or stolen passports to the police in your resort and the nearest embassy / consulate. And obtain documentation to support this

How to make a claim for curtailment

First of all, contact the claims handler of your travel insurance policy, all of which have dedicated numbers.

They will be able to inform of you of the next steps to take, including how your claims from – with evidence – should be submitted.

Please note, if you need to make any changes to your policy, our Customer Care Team can only do so after your claim has been registered.

What else you should know

Take note of these 3 commonly missed facts about curtailment.

  • As with most policy benefits, an excess may be applied to any curtailment claim
  • Any additional travel expenses will often need to be proved as necessary, and can sometimes only cover economy class
  • The claims handlers, rather than customer service are the best people to speak to for an update on your claim

We hope this information has given you a clear idea of what curtailment cover is available to you.

But remember, the chances of your holiday being cut short are low. So do your homework and then relax!

We’re here if you need us – although we can’t help with poor mobile phone signals, even if you are the Prime Minister!