We’ve covered how to get a refund if your flight is delayed or canceled. Here, we talk through hotel cancellation policies and your options depending on if your hotel booking is canceled or if you need to cancel the booking yourself, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The United States government has extended its restrictions to advise against all non-essential travel to slow the spread of COVID-19. The initial Coronavirus Guidelines for America was put in place on 16 March for a period of 15 days, but the advice has now been extended through 30 April.
The government refers to CDC recommendations stating travelers should “avoid all non-essential international travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Additionally, a 14-day domestic travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut has been issued to refrain from non-essential travel. Holiday companies are scrambling to reschedule their customers’ bookings, while airlines are offering refunds or flight vouchers for later dates.
If you are seeking a refund from your accommodation provider, ask them directly before attempting to get compensation from your travel insurer.
When am I entitled to compensation?
If you did not buy travel insurance to cover your hotel booking, it will be a case of contacting the hotel or travel agency you booked with to discuss a refund or travel credit. If your hotel or travel agent won’t provide a refund or flexible options, call your travel insurance provider to discuss your options.
Note that many travel insurers changed their cover policies to no longer cover COVID-19 related claims. This includes claims for travel to destinations affected by the virus or for canceling travel plans due to fear. Although the U.S. Department of State has advised against all non-essential travel, travel insurance companies are not covering claims based on this reason either.
If you bought Cancel For Any Reason coverage (CFAR) these claims may be covered up to 75 percent. Generally, a CFAR has to be purchased between 14 – 21 days from the time of booking your hotel and/or other trip expenses.
Most policies bought after mid to late January (usually 1/21/20, but may depend on your insurance company) will not cover disruptions from the pandemic as it’s considered a known event. Stay up to date with our list of bans, advice, and coronavirus travel updates.
Hotel cancellation policies
Even in normal circumstances, big hotel chains often let you cancel your reservation or reschedule your booking for a future date, generally provided that you give 24 or 48 hours’ notice. However, most big chains are now offering COVID-19-related extended cancellation policies, the details of which can be found on each hotel group’s website.
For example, Hilton has made all reservations (even those described as ‘non-cancellable’) scheduled for arrival before 30 June 2020, cancellable free of charge until 24 hours before arrival. Best Western has announced the same policy for its hotels in Canada, the Caribbean, and the US, as has the Hyatt hotel group and Radisson Hotels.
Intercontinental, which owns Holiday Inn, Kimpton, Candlewood Suites, and Crowne Plaza, is waiving cancellation fees worldwide for bookings made before April 6th with stays that are scheduled for arrival up to 30 June 2020.
Marriott also extended it’s cancellation policy from 31 March until 30 April 2020. You can cancel or change the reservation up to 24 hours before your arrival, however, some travel periods and hotels may be excluded.
Small-business holiday homes tend to be less flexible than chains in terms of chosen cancellation policies, but in these unprecedented circumstances some family-run businesses are showing more flexibility in order to allow customers to rebook for a future date.
Can I get a refund for my accommodation?
This can depend on whether you’ve booked directly with the accommodation or via an online travel agency. All travel agents have their own cancellation policies, so if you’ve booked with an agency you’ll need to contact them directly to find out whether you’re entitled to a refund.
If you’ve used Booking.com, check whether you selected accommodation with a good cancellation policy. Some bookings can be cancelled free of charge at any time, while others are completely non-refundable.
However, the company has issued a Coronavirus Cancellation Policy to property owners, saying that customer cancellation fees should be waived for bookings affected by the COVID-19 restrictions and will be covered by Booking.com.
Similarly, Airbnb properties have a range of cancellation policies, ranging from flexible — which offers free cancellation until 14 days before check-in — to super strict, where guests get a 50% refund provided they cancel 60 days before check-in. However, the company has created an extenuating circumstances policy due to the current COVID-19 situation.
Reservations made on or before 14 March 2020, with a check-in date between 14 March 2020 and 31 May 2020, can be canceled before check-in and guests will be able to choose between travel credit or a full cash refund. However, for reservations made on or before 14 March 2020, with a check-in date after 31 May 2020, the host’s cancellation policy with apply.
This page was last updated on 8 April 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.
This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before traveling or making any decisions to travel.