General 148: School Trips – HIGH IMPORTANCE – Financial Impact

School Trips – HIGH IMPORTANCE – Financial Impact

Many schools have booked School Trips that have been impacted adversely by the pandemic. We have put together some information to help you navigate the situation – and some of the pit falls!

Instalments and balance payments
If the school fails to make an instalment or balance payment when it becomes due and have not agreed a delay in payments with the provider, it is likely that the booking can be treated as cancelled under the booking terms and conditions. This may result in the School losing their deposit and having to pay cancellation charges. We recommend that you check the booking terms and conditions and seek legal advice if you are unclear on the school’s position.

Cancellations by School
Please be aware that if the school cancels a school trip, the booking terms and conditions are likely to provide that the school will lose their deposit and have to pay cancellation charges which can be as high as 100% of the costs of the trip. The statutory position in relation to package holidays is slightly wider and there may be scope for cancellation in limited circumstances. We recommend that you check the booking terms and conditions and seek legal advice if you are unclear on the school’s position before cancelling any trips.

You will not be able to claim on insurance where the cancellation is viewed as a disinclination to travel. For schools insured with DCC’s insurers, Zurich, we refer you to the advice issued by them in relation to cancellations:

If schools have any specific concerns, our guidance is that they don’t cancel trips without speaking to us first so that we can discuss their specific circumstances fully. We have a dedicated number for school journeys claims Tel 0800 917 7207.
https://www.zurich.co.uk/municipal/en-gb/existing-customers/coronavirus

Cancellations by the Provider
The school is more likely to be entitled to a refund or partial refund where a trip is cancelled by the provider either under the booking terms and conditions or under statute where the trip is a classed as a package holiday. However some providers are treating the school as having cancelled, thereby attempting to avoid providing a refund whilst others are just refusing a refund and insisting that schools make a claim on insurance. In these circumstances, the school’s options are limited to commencing court proceedings or attempting to make an insurance claim. We recommend that you check the booking terms and conditions and seek legal advice if you are unclear on the school’s position.

Credit Notes
Some providers may offer the school a credit note rather than issuing a refund. This may be permitted under the terms and conditions but a school cannot be obliged to accept this where the trip is a package holiday. Unless this is backed by insolvency protection (e.g. ATOL), there is a risk that the funds will be lost if the provider becomes insolvent. There is also a risk that costs will increase and the school will need to make an additional payment to cover any such increase.

Insurance Claims
Before an insurance claim can be submitted, insurers will expect the school to carry out the following steps:
1. Attempt to obtain a refund from the provider,
2. Rearrange the trip for a later date wherever possible.
3. Where payments have been made by credit card, make a chargeback or section 75 claim via the credit card company.

Legal Advice
We recommend that you check the booking terms and conditions and seek legal advice before taking any action, if you are unclear on the school’s position. For school’s that subscribe to DCC’s legal helpdesk, advice can be sought by sending an email to legal.legalschools-mailbox@devon.gov.uk

Refunds to Parents
For maintained schools only, we would hope that parents would not be penalised as a result of the current situation. Schools should work with parents to rebook if at all possible. If this is not acceptable to the parent, schools should endeavour to issue a refund.

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