Villages across Switzerland, France and Italy have been cut off by heavy snow and high winds in the Alps. Thousands of tourists have been left stranded and a British skier has been reported missing.

Many resorts are closed and the avalanche risk is set at the maximum, the highest it has been in the past ten years. An avalanche in the Italian Alps struck a building on Monday but no one is reported to be injured.

Whilst most tourists are thought to be in good spirits, despite being stranded, some have already been airlifted by helicopter. It is not yet known how long it will be before a rescue operation can take place.

If you are due to travel to the affected area and have booked your holiday through a tour operator or travel agent, we recommend speaking to them directly as they may be able to change your holiday dates or destination or offer a refund for the holiday cost.
In addition, if your accommodation is still occupied by those who are stranded then the accommodation provider may offer you a refund as they are not able to provide the service you have paid for.

So, what cover can you expect from your travel insurance?
Those looking to cancel their holiday should check to see if their policy covers them for ‘cancellation for any cause beyond their reasonable control’. It is important to note, that although your travel insurance policy may cover you to cancel your holiday it will not cover for disclination to travel.

Holidaymakers who are stranded abroad may be able to claim for any additional expenses incurred as a result of them not being able to return home i.e. car parking charges and pet care. This will not be covered by all policies so it is worth checking the policy wording carefully or speaking directly to the insurer.

People who have not been able to use the resort due to adverse weather should check their policy wording as they may be entitled to compensation. Some winter sports travel insurance policies will provide compensation for every 24-hour period you are not able to use the facilities in the resort due to adverse weather up to a maximum amount (for example £200 for every 24 hours up to a total of £1000 – although cover levels will differ between policies).