Keith Adams was looking forward to attending his daughter’s Greek island wedding until he received devastating health news.
Last April, the 50-year-old builder and his wife Wendy booked a 10-day trip to the Bitzaro Grande Hotel in Kalamaki where their daughter Gayle planned to get married later this year.
But four months ago Keith, from Fraserburgh, received the shock news that he had developed a brain tumour, probably incurable.
After being diagnosed, he contacted Thomas Cook to cancel the £1,900 holiday.
He had paid a deposit of £1,000 but was told he would be charged a £430 cancellation fee, which the company was within its rights to charge.
“I was offered to change the names of the people travelling for free but going on holiday was suddenly the last thing on everyone’s mind,” said Keith. “My illness is terminal and I probably won’t be alive by the time the trip comes around in October.”
The mistake Keith made when buying the holiday was not taking out insurance. This meant he wasn’t entitled to his money back, even following such a heartbreaking diagnosis.
After news of the cancer sunk in and he realised he would not get a full refund for the trip, he thought he might still go ahead with the holiday.
“But because of my condition I was then quoted up to £1,500 for travel insurance so it wouldn’t be worth it even if I was fit enough to go,” he said.
We contacted Thomas Cook on Keith’s behalf to ask if a further refund would be possible but a spokesperson said that, although the company sympathised with his position, nothing more could be done.
A spokesperson said: “When he explained he had not taken out travel insurance we offered him a double name change so that someone else could take the holiday.
“Mr Adams declined our offer and asked us to cancel his booking.”
Gayle’s wedding in Greece has been cancelled and will now take place in Aberdeenshire next month.
Keith, who has been receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy, said he wanted to share his story to remind others to take out insurance cover when booking a holiday.
The most recent figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) reveal the number of travel claims rose by 30,000, year on year, to 510,000 in 2017, costing insurers £385 million. This was largely due to an 11% rise in cancellation claims, from £130m to £145m.
ABI spokesman Malcolm Tarling said: “The increase in cancellation claims was driven by notable airline disruption, restrictive bad weather at home and abroad, as well as the cost of the average family holiday increasing by more than £500.”
Many people still leave buying travel insurance until the eleventh hour, so they have no cover if they have to cancel.
“A lot of people still don’t realise that cancellations such as for personal or family reasons, or if you have been called for jury service or have been made redundant or unemployed, are not generally compensated by airlines or travel operators,” he said.
“This further highlights the importance of buying your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday – not at the last minute.
“It would also pay to not just judge travel insurance by the price. The cheapest cover isn’t necessarily the best.
“Make sure that the policy covers all your needs – including paying compensation if you have to cancel.”