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Recent Complaints of Note
You and Travel Insurance


Travel Insurance - Essential in Every Case


Every traveller must make certain that they have suitable insurance and most tour operators insist on proof of adequate cover before they confirm a booking. Make certain that you get cover as soon as you make the booking. This year we have had many complaints from people who booked well in advance and were upset that the travel company would not give a refund when they could not take the holiday. Problems ranged from 'I got pregnant' (no one from the travel company involved) to 'we could not get anyone to look after Grandad. The person who said they would do it pulled out'. The travel agent will not take responsibility in such cases, but a good insurer just might.

Where to Buy: You do not have to buy your insurance from the travel agent from whom you purchase their holiday. You will be under pressure to do so as the travel agency staff receive a good rate of commission (up to 40%) on all insurance sales. However, there are a host of companies active in the travel insurance market and there are likely to be better deals available. A big problem is insurance for those over the nominal age limit of 65 years, above which age many companies will not provide insurance. This will eventually change as more and more of the travelling public, and significantly those with the wealth and time to travel, become an ever growing part of the population. To meet this demand, certain banks now offer premium current accounts that provide annual travel cover as part of the package. In many cases his is the least expensive insurance the elderly will get.

Single trip or Annual: Travel insurance is a very specialised market and it is essential that you make certain the cover meets your needs. One can opt for single trip insurance or annual cover, but if the latter is chosen , it is essential to make certain that the cover allows periods of travel that are acceptable to you. Some policies restrict cover to 30 days in any one trip.

Medical Cover: Probably the single most important element of any travel insurance policy is the Medical cover. This provides for treatment at the destination and the cost of being flown home by air ambulance should this be necessary. The cost of air ambulance repatriation is very very high and it is not a cost that any traveller would wish to bear from their own resources!

Read & Understand the Policy: It is essential to read and understand the action to be taken in the event of a medical emergency in resort. This will almost always include informing the tour operator's representative and contacting the insurance companies dedicated helpline specified in the policy. Failure to take this action could certainly result in the refusal of the insurers to meet the claim, or at best abate it by a percentage. When you travel, make certain you have the policy document with you and that you know what action you must take in the event of an emergency. When the emergency occurs is not the time to be reading through the insurance document trying to decide what to do next! Leave a copy with a close relative. If something serious happens to you, the details of the policy will be essential to them if they are to take action on your behalf.

Extent of Cover: It is also crucial to understand what the medical insurance covers. !t frequently excludes hazardous pursuits, such as skiing, parachute jumping, white-water rafting etc. Read the small print and be certain that the cover you buy meets your requirements in these respects.

Other Elements: Other essential elements include cover for baggage and personal belongings, delays, cancellation of the holiday and personal accident. Booking by credit card currently gives a measure of protection if the tour operator fails or the holiday is cancelled, but travellers are often under the misapprehension that this is 'travel insurance'. It most certainly is not. Check your household contents policy; very often this will cover loss or damage to personal property under certain circumstances.


Another good link for insurance for the elderly:


William Walton's Garden Ischia
Peace and Tranquility in the shadow of Vesuvius


Claims - Points to Ponder: Up to 10% of all claims are not paid in full and a good number of those are totally rejected . Reasons include:

  • Not covered - You are under the misapprehension that the cover is included in the policy when it is specifically excluded.
  • Failure to take reasonable care - insurers are entitled to expect that you take reasonable care of your property. Negligence on your part may result in total or part rejection of the claim.
  • Failure to act in accordance with the terms of the Policy - Insurers often limit the costs of their claims by having standard procedures designed to keep costs to a minimum. If you fail to act in accordance with the terms of the policy e.g. by not notifying their help line of a medical emergency, they may suffer costs which could have been avoided. In these circumstances they may restrict the claim.
  • Loss exceeds maximum extent of cover - Frequently, loss of property etc. is restricted to a sum representing the value of goods that a traveller could reasonably be expected to carry. If you take your £10,000 diamond studded Rolex to Rome and it is stolen, you will need a very good and expensive policy if you are to be able to recover the cost!
  • Pre-existing condition - When you contract for insurance you are required to declare any pre-existing medical conditions that may affect the insurers risk and thus the premium. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in rejection of any claim linked to those conditions.
  • Lack of evidential Material - Quite understandably, insurers require some form of evidence that a loss has been suffered. If you lose items or have them stolen, always report the loss to the appropriate authority. Report thefts to the local police and obtain a report or at the very least a crime number. At airports report to the airport management and on cruise ships to the cruise operator. Get some form of written confirmation that you have reported the loss. When you make the claim, provide proof of purchase and cost. If you don't have the receipt, dig out the old credit card bills etc.
  • Holiday Cancellation - With holidays often booked well in advance, cancellation due to illness etc. is bound to be a cause for concern. If you are forced to cancel, tell your insurer before you do so and provide evidence of cause.

If you have made what you believe to be a justified claim that your travel insurer is refusing to meet, you can take you case to the Financial Ombudsman at All travel insurance underwriters are accountable to this office.

Credit Card Cover: How often have you heard people say "we don't bother with insurance - we are covered by our credit card" This can be a serious error. Credit cards do provide very basic cover for some things. However, they do not provide anywhere near the cover essential the travellers.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?
Woody Allen (1935 - )