Agents making travel arrangements which are unprotected by an ATOL should make their customers sign a disclaimer.

Speaking at the ABTA Travel Law seminar in London on Monday Traveltime World co-owner David Steadman said in order to ensure customers know exactly what financial protection they are entitled to, staff should be well trained enough to ensure they understand every aspect of a booking.

Then, in order to prove the customer is equally aware of what they are entitled to they should be asked to sign a disclaimer form stating this.

Steadman said: “We make it very clear to the client if we haven’t sold an ATOL product and we get them to sign it always.”

He added staff should also be able to produce correct receipts for all bookings to prove whether or not they are financially protected.

Nor should agents rely on the tour operator to know whether the booking is financially protected.

Steadman said: “Sometimes we know more than they (tour operators) do and you have to have the confidence to talk to the tour operator and say: ‘We don’t think you’re right.’”

In the event of a failure, Steadman said agents must be proactive contacting both forward-booked clients and those already overseas.

He added: “The first decision an agent has to make is whether their going to take the responsibility to process the claim on a client’s behalf or whether the client takes responsibility.”

Should the agent decide to process the claims themselves they can download the forms from the Civil Aviation Authority website.