“We have a six-week holiday to North America starting on 4 July, all independently booked”, says Steven, 52, from Bromsgrove. “We are flying to Canada and then doing a three-week drive, by car, across the US and then picking up a motorhome in Canada for final three weeks. The flights have been fully paid and are non-refundable. The car hire and US hotels are all fully refundable, except one, but the motorhome is not.

We are due to pay the balance of motorhome, booked through Authentik Canada, by June. . All payments made so far have been on a credit card. I have full travel insurance, which also covers travel disruption. Now that government travel advice has changed are companies obliged to offer a refund? Or will we be able to claim on our insurance now?

The FCO’s advice against all but essential travel was issued on 17 March, initially for a period of 30 days. Last weekend it extended the advice to an “indefinite” period, so no one knows when normal travel will resume. Given this new advice, the reader could contact his airline and the motorhome company to ask for a refund on the basis that there is no way of knowing whether or not he can travel.

As the motorhome company is based in Montreal, it falls under Canada’s Compensation Fund for Customers of Travel Agents (CFCTA). Authentik states on its website that customers may be entitled to a refund under CFCTA regulations but it is asking customers to wait until 45 days before travel because of its current volume of enquires. If the airline and motorhome provider both refuse to offer a refund, Steven could try his insurance company. Some insurers will pay out now that the FCO’s advice is for an “indefinite” period – with the proviso that the claimant has tried their travel provider first (although, unhelpfully, some travel providers, including Authentik, require customers to ask their insurance provider first).

The Association of British Insurers says: “This decision [to extend the advice against all but essential travel] will allow the majority of policyholders with cancellation or travel disruption cover in place to claim for cancelled trips that were already booked and cannot now go ahead.” Some insurance policies may require claimants to wait until they are within 30 days of travelling. Steven could also try his credit card company: under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, purchases over £100 on Visa or MasterCard credit cards are protected.

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