Research by consumer group Which? reveals that four in 10 travel insurance policies do not cover travellers for strikes by airport or airline staff.

The company assessed 199 policies offered by 71 providers as part of its annual review of travel insurance.

It found that 78 of these policies do not provide cover for cancellations due to strikes, with one policy only offering it as an optional extra.

Airlines are required to refund passengers or provide a replacement flight when they cancel flights. Passengers are also entitled to accommodation if they are stuck at an airport.

Travellers whose holiday is cancelled by a package tour operator are also entitled to a refund, and package holidays from an ATOL-protected firm will also reimburse travellers should the company go out of business.

This comes at a time of airport disruption around the world due to Covid-19 and staffing issues, and an imminent strike by British Airways workers at Heathrow airport due to pay.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published a 22-point plan to minimise aviation disruption this summer, which includes a one-off “amnesty” on airport slot rules.

Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said:

“With many airlines warning of widespread disruption this summer and Covid cases on the rise, travellers should ensure they’ve taken out adequate insurance to cover any losses or unexpected costs they might face.

“Which? analysis of 199 policies shows that levels of cover can vary wildly in important areas like disruption caused by strike action or Covid.

“We advise travellers to always check policies carefully to ensure they offer the cover that will be most appropriate to their trip, and to ensure they have cover in place from the time of booking.”

The company also found disparities in the level of cover offers with regards to Covid-19 and stated that fewer than one in ten offered what it considered to be ‘complete’ protection.

According to Which?, ‘complete’ protection would allow travellers to claim for emergency medical care if they catch Covid while abroad; claim cancellation costs if they test positive for Covid before their trip; offer cover in the event that legal requirements to self-isolate are reintroduced; and the ability to claim if the FCDO advises against travel to their destination because of Covid, or because of regional or national restrictions on movement, after they have booked.

Which? concluded its research by advising travellers to purchase holidays via credit card. “Your credit card provider is legally bound to reimburse you for any purchase over £100 if services provided are not as advertised, and the company responsible won’t refund you.”