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ATOL, TTA and IPP insurance advice for specialist tour company! HELP!

Hello everyone! Firstly, I am so happy I found this site, gives great advice and the main contributors seem very learned in many of the discussions! 

I was wondering if anyone can help me please. I am currently setting up a specialist tour company, offering expertly led, small group, all inclusive cultural tours.As I will be including flights for the tours, I know I need ATOL and Insurance/financial protection for my customers.

I have been reading through all the discussions intently, and I know this topic has come up loads of times, but I need help deciding what my company will need for insurance/financial protection and licensing.

This is the situation where I am at right now:


1. ATOL application: I have found that applying directly for a small business ATOL is unrealistic for my start-up company, as I am only looking at a potential of 200 customers in the first year of trading,and cannot afford the insurance bonding of £15k+ (please correct me if this is wrong). 


2. Joining the TTA: Firstly, for my type of business, waiting for a tour to end to get customers cash is just not practical and will mess with my logistics. I don't like the idea of the hassle and paper work involved in asking for my own cash from a trust account that I don't need or want. It feel it may be time consuming and restrictive.

I think the T-ATOL is brilliant! ....but I'm not convinced that the compulsory membership to the TTA is beneficial. Having run tours previously, I have spent the past year meeting with multiple suppliers in the tour destinations as well as here, so I don't really need business supplier contacts.I also have set up a business bank account and am on my way to applying for a merchant acquirer to take online payments, so I don't think I'm going to need their credit card facility.

Together with the fact that the costs aren't that great, I'm not leaning towards the TTA.

(again, advise me if I have misunderstood anything from the above) 


3. Retail agent ATOL - the management company who will be providing my group flights have an ATOL and having read their terms and conditions, I can use their ATOL as their retail agent. So this seems like a great option for me, as my customers will be covered under their ATOL and I will provide additional payment protection through IPP insurance or a similar insurance scheme.

I am leaning towards this option as it seems that I can provide full protection to my customers whilst complying with the law. (again, if I have misunderstood anything, please advise me!)


Sorry for the LONG post...


AHH I have just spent my Saturday night researching travel regulations and insurance (YAWN)


Muchas THANKS!


Zoe Davies



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Hi Zoe

I can certainly help you on this.

There are a number of different options for you, some of which you have mentioned but also some others including different consortiums.

I would say that an ATOL direct would probably cost you nearer £5,000 rather than £15,000 and with the TTA there are options of getting the money released early.

I think to lay all of the options down on the forum maybe difficult as there are so many. It would probably be easier to discuss and I am more than happy to give some free initial advice.

Please feel free to give me a call and we can through your requirements and options in detail.


020 8853 3700
07786 230837

Hi Matt, 


Thanks for the reply. So do you mean with the insurance bonding as well as the application costs, a small business ATOL will set me back around £5,000? Or just the application costs? 


Also, what other kinds of insurance does a tour company generally have to have? 

Dear Matt,


I realise that you are fishing for business on this forum, but your frequent offers to take discussions offline, IMHO, devalues the content of SFBO. For example, this thread will effectively die once you and Zoe start using other means of communication - and I'm not sure that that benefits the wider community. Just my thoughts - perhaps I'm out of order.

Hi Alan


The right path for a particular business will depend on their circumstances and it easier to talk this through rather than doing numerous posts backwards and forwards to establish their business model. I am more than happy to do a summary afterwards, providing the other party doesn't mind, to summarise their plans and solution.


Hope this helps




Hi Alan,


I genuinely thought paying for consultancy was part of this forum!

Getting good advice from experienced travel business owners can be vital when making decisions in the early stages of setting up a travel business. 

Matts advice was great and I hope others setting up a travel business will benefit from it. 

The last questions I asked were in general to all travel business owners on here and I was slightly hesitant about contacting Matt afterwards as I knew this would involve a consultancy fee, something unfortunately I cannot afford right now! 

The question I asked was if anyone does prefer being a member of the TTA and having a T-ATOL rather than having a direct small business ATOL?

Also, even if I was covered by an ATOL, would I still need to provide financial protection like IPP or TOPPS or is this just added protection for customers? Is this needed to comply with the package travel regulations or not? 


If you have any advice or if anyone else on here has advice, please share!





Hi Zoe

ATOL would only protect passengers who are booking flights or flight based packages. If you have customers who will book packages without flights, you will also need some other protection in place.

I should also add that I am happy to give some free initial advice off the forum as well. It is only if someone required ongoing advice would I then talk about charging.


Hi Zoe

The application fee is just over £1,000 with the insurance on the bond likely to cost approx £3500. The only other insurance you will want to consider is professional indemnity and public liability which for a small business would cost approx £1000.


Great.. That isn't as bad as I thought.. I honestly thought applying for an ATOL direct would be alot more expensive than that. 

Thankyou for that Matt.

Can you give me your personal email address as I'd like to email you some more questions and ask you more about your consultancy! 

Also, is there anyone on here who does prefer being a member of the TTA and having a T-ATOL rather than having a direct small business ATOL? 

Weighing up the pros and cons I don't see why the TTA would be beneficial. 

If a direct ATOL costs around £5,000 and the TTA membership and T-ATOL costs just under £3000, isn't it more advantageous to just go with paying a couple more grand and not having to have the restrictions/strings attached of the TTA membership?

I have read about peoples experiences with the TTA on here and to be honest, it kind of puts me off. And even with the Fidelity plus package for releasing money to pay suppliers, my business will need flexibility and regular cash flow for all aspects of my business. 

Also, even if I was covered by an ATOL, would I still need to provide financial protection like IPP or TOPPS or is this just added protection for customers?? Is this needed to comply with the package travel regulations or not??



Hi Zoe

I can help you with all the other questions as well.

My email address is



Hi Zoe

I can certainly help you with advice and quotations on the general Insurance (liability) side of things.

I run a scheme at Lloyd's for liability insurance, which is specifically aimed at UK Tour Operators, Agents and Organisers.

Please see

I am happy to run through any requirements or questions you migth have on what can be quite a complex and tricky area.

Please feel free to give me a call on 020 76459022 if I can be of assistance.

Kind regards


Hi Zoe,

On your original post 3.Retail agent ATOL?

Did this work out for you?

This seems to be my best option, any help would be great.






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