A MUM-of-one has been left £500 out of pocket after cancelling her romantic trip to Venice because of the coronavirus outbreak.
When Emma Webber, 38, decided to book a holiday to Italy back in December 2019, no one had even heard of the killer virus.
Three months on, and 94,000 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed worldwide including 167 incidents in the UK.
Emma, a recruitment consultant in Hertfordshire, was meant to travel to Venice with her partner on Friday, March 28, for three nights.
She’d booked the holiday as a joint Christmas and birthday present for her boyfriend and spent £484.40 in total.
This included return flights with Ryanair, an apartment through Booking.com and car parking at the airport.
Emma, who lives with daughter Ruby, 5, told The Sun: "It was devastating.
"I’m a single mum and I worked really hard to save up the money to pay for this trip.
"I paid for the whole thing as a present for my partner as his birthday was in January.
"We’ve got small kids and we don’t want to spread it to other people.
"My kids have friends that have underlying health issues."
Areas the FCO has advised not to travel to
Here are the regions the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against travelling to due to coronavirus:
- All of mainland China
- Castiglione d’Adda
- San Fiorano
- Terranova dei Passerini
- Vo’ Euganeo
The most recent travel advice for holidaymakers returning to the UK from Italy is that they must self-isolate if they have symptoms.
Emma and her partner are both self-employed, meaning they would have lost out on two weeks' salary if they'd fallen ill.
She estimates this would have cost the pair thousands of pounds in wages between them.
Emma said: "I wouldn't have been able to see clients.
"My partner works as a landscape gardener so he wouldn't have been able to work at all."
The majority of travel insurance providers will only refund your trip if your flight has been cancelled or your destination is named as a place not to visit by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
What happens if I don't have travel insurance?
IF your travel insurance doesn't cover coronavirus cancellations, or you don't have any travel insurance, it's worth getting in touch with your travel operator.
You're not guaranteed any help but it might arrange an alternative holiday or allow you to rebook at a later date.
Free cancellations aren't guaranteed if you've booked through an ATOL-protected tour operator either.
This is because the protection is against the failure of the package holiday provider, and not for a major medical outbreak like the coronavirus.
Some travel companies are still offering worried holidaymakers help where possible.
For example, Greek airline Aegean Airlines is offering customers with flights to any destination before March 20 the chance to rebook for free.
If you've booked flights and accommodation separately, ask the airlines and hotels if they can help.
In Emma's case, her travel insurance provider Coverwise wouldn't refund her because she chose not to travel even though her flight was still running.
Venice is not one of the cities in northern Italy that have been deemed no-go areas by the FCO.
When we spoke to Coverwise, they said travellers might be entitled to a refund if their policy includes Travel Disruption Cover.
Ryanair told us their usual terms and conditions apply if a customer's flight is running as normal.
If they're still flying to the destination, then customers won't be entitled to money back should they decide not to go.
When it comes to Booking.com, the cancellation policy varies between each booking and is set by the hotel or accommodation host.
The Sun has contacted Booking.com and we'll update this article when we get a response.
Martyn James, consumer expert at Resolver, told us: "As the virus spreads, people planning on taking holidays need to get tactical if they don’t want to lose out.
"Unfortunately, most people are bound by the terms of their contracts so check the wording and be willing to compromise."
If you're looking to travel, we've rounded up how to check if your insurance policy will cover you for coronavirus cancellations.
We also spoke to Martin Lewis about whether you should book a holiday or not due to coronavirus.
And this is why you NEED to buy travel insurance now if you have a holiday booked.
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