Published: 27 November 2014
Is your travel insurance policy going to cover you when the weather closes in! Travel Insurance policies have come under scrutiny recently, and for good reason as many leave their customers without compensation where you think it would be covered, if it weren't for that all important small print.
In short, is your travel insurance policy worth the paper it is written on and is it really worth the risk when there are robust policies available for around £50-80 per person for a high end 2 week holiday?
After more snow which is causing no end of problems for everyone travelling at the moment, we feel it is important to raise the issue of insurance since it is clear that many policies are wholly inadequate, especially in covering high cost holidays. In short, it is not sufficient to say "I have travel insurance" - the policy has to stand up to these scenarios and the value of the holidays being purchased.
FIRSTLY, WE NEED TO DISPEL A MYTH. IF THE AIRLINE HAS TO CANCEL (FOR WHATEVER REASON) , THEY ARE BOUND TO REFUND THE FULL COST OF THE FARE (IN MOST CASES). HOWEVER, THEY ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY OF THE HOTEL AND LAND COSTS WHICH MAY BE WASTED AS A RESULT OF DELAY OR OUTRIGHT CANCELLATION. LUCKILY, THESE ITEMS ARE INSURABLE.
The following are the key points that we feel need to be clarified with insurance companies in regard to cancellation and curtailment. If they don't cover these points in full, openly and honestly without any catches, then we advise clients to get a new policy or get the current insurer to give a better cover with higher premium. We can recommend at least one policy that covers all these scenarios.
1. If the airline cancels the flight for any reason at all, but particularly adverse conditions (including ash clouds), the insurance will pay out the total cost of the holiday should the insured not travel at all. A key point here is that the insurance does not have a cap that is less than the total cost of accommodation and services/ internal flights combined. We have found many insurance policies have a clause saying they will pay out in this instance, but it is then limited to £1,000 - £2,000 per person and this does not cover many of the holidays we sell.
2. Clients are covered for recovering partial cost of holiday - e.g. they were delayed by 2 days due to snow and needed to recover the cost of the first 2 nights accommodation and services.
3. Clients are covered for extending their stay should they get stranded in their holiday destination for any reason (in 2010, the ash cloud caused huge cost for this reason with people extending their stays for 1-2 weeks at £500 + per night). This last item is harder to insure but for the right premium, some decent cover can be purchased.
These are the main points but obviously the other critical area to make sure is covered well is medical costs abroad/ repatriation in the event of serious illness or injury where and EVAC is required. Moreover, do not leave your family in the lurch and make sure cover for repatriation should one of your party unfortunately die abroad. The cost of an EVAC or repatriation of a body can be £150,000 at least.
Please don't hesitate to call us for free advice on this important subject.