Nobody is immune to the ills of life, which sometimes force to cancel even planned ahead oversea vacations. Everybody has faced a force majeur situation at least once in his life, and if chances to follow the plan are minimal, you still can address the consequences.

A tour, especially oversea, is not the cheapest affair, but nobody gives you a 100 percent guarantee you will be compensated in full in case of cancellation. To help Ukrainian tourists, ForUm has investigated into legal aspect of financial losses and protection of travelers.

The letter of the law
Lawyer Andriy Koryagin says that according to the law of Ukraine "On tourism", tour operators are responsible for non-observance or poor performance of terms of contract on tourist services. At the same time, the law provides for a number of exclusions.

For example, a tour operator cannot be hold responsible if non-observance of the contract has happened through a fault of a tourist (missed the flight) or third parties (cancellation of the flight due to bad weather conditions or natural disaster, like in 2010 after volcano eruption in Iceland; visa rejection by the embassy).

"I had a case, when a woman paid for a tour in Great Britain, including flight, hotel and visa, a month before the planned date of departure. However, workers of the tour company did not tell her that in accordance with regulations of the visa department of Great Britain embassy, documents for visa can be considered for up to three months. In the result, the woman got her visa, but it was too late. She went to the tour operator and asked for compensation, but was told the company did not bear any responsibility for actions of the embassy," Andriy Koryagin described a case from his practice.
The moral is that every party will defend its interests whatever happens. Thus, tourists must be more prudent while buying a tour, and before putting a signature under a contract to study it carefully first.
Possibilities and impossibilities of a tourist

The fact is there are not so many means for Ukrainian tourists to avoid financial losses. One of the variants include cancellation insurance. According to sales manager Valeria, this procedure takes two minutes and costs within 100 hryvnias. However, having cancellation insurance does not guarantee 100 percent compensation. Before signing the contract with an insurance company, study the compensation order and conditions. According to Valeria, terms may vary - from 50 to 100% depending on the text of the agreement you sign. 

Also take into account that reasons for cancellation compensation must be more than serious, down to illness or even death of the vacationer or his relative. The insurance may also provide for compensation in case of court proceeding, for example if you need to be present in a courtroom on the day of departure. However, don't expect that you can simply come to the company and say you cannot leave because you are sick. All of the above mentioned reasons of tour cancellation must be proved by documents.

At the same time, the most common reasons for tour cancellation, like visa rejection for example, are not included into the list of possible risks. "Insurance company is not a charity organization. Its goal is to conclude as many contracts as possible and to pay out the least possible amount of compensations," Andriy Koryagin says and adds that insurance companies provides for terms which seem insignificant at first sight but in fact are the basic ground to deny compensation.

"For example, the agreement on vehicle insurance says that compensation will not be paid if the driver was driving drunk or ran a red light. It seems obvious, but half of car accidents happen due these very reasons. Cancellation insurance provides for similar tactics. Visa denial is the most common reason to cancel the trip, for this insurance companies exclude this risk from the contract," the lawyer says.

Moreover, according to sales manager Valeria, in most cases cancellation insurance becomes invalid two weeks before the departure, though there are companies which cover the risk up to the last day. Thus, signing the contract, study this detail as well, because you may not be compensated in case you have a car accident on the way to airport. 

However, Ukrainian  tourists do not hurry to take cancellation insurance anyway. According to Valeria, such requests are isolated cases. Another sales manager Natalia says for the past year none of her clients bothered to take this kind of insurance. She also adds that sometimes the company compensates cancellation even without insurance contract, but only to regular and reliable clients, who can prove seriousness of the reason. 


Leaving the commercial aspect apart, we want to focus on legal issue, which is often ignored by tourists themselves. "No law can protect you if you do not bother to study the contract and put your signature without reading. Signing the contract, you undertake certain obligations as well, not only rights," Andriy Koryagin says.

The lawyer recommends to study carefully the terms of the insurance contract, especially the list of insured accidents. "Do not try to save money on insurance, it is not that expensive. Moreover, study the history and reputation of the insurance company of interest. And if there are facts of ungrounded refusal to pay out a compensation, do not risk but go to another company," he says
It is always up to tourists whether to take insurance or not, but to be careful and follow simple recommendations of lawyers will not hurt anyway. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.

Tetyana Matsur


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