Holidaymakers failed by travel insurance policies

20 May 2013

AXA, Columbus Direct, Insure & Go and Virgin Money have been named and shamed by consumer group Which? for offering inadequate travel insurance for gadget-loving holidaymakers.

The four insurers' standard policies have a single item limit for valuables of just £200, meaning travellers who lose their iPads or top of the range smartphones - or have them stolen - are unlikely to be able to fully recoup the replacement cost from their insurance company.

iPhone 5 users could find themselves up to £375 out of pocket if their handset was stolen abroad, according to Which?. And theft victims who have their iPhone, iPad and a valuable watch stolen from their hotel room at the same time could end up with a bill of £1,160 to replace them, the research found.

Which? said that holidaymakers are being left out of pocket because many travel insurers are using outdated policy wording, meaning the cover they offer is inadequate to replace common gadgets.

"Travel insurance has not kept pace with the changing times," said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.

The consumer group pitted the standard policies from 20 of the biggest UK travel insurers against each other and compared the limits set by the insurers to cover the cost of replacing one item (single item limit), as well as the overall valuables limit. It found that almost all had set "unrealistically low limits on what people could claim back, especially once the excess had been deducted".

Outdated policies

Its investigation also revealed that 19 out of 20 insurers had an excess fee of at least £50 - the highest was £100 from Barclays, though many insurers have even higher excess figures than this. Which? also said that some insurers had admitted that consumers could find better cover for their valuables when travelling abroad through their home insurance instead.

"Insurers should raise the outdated limits for everyday items like smartphones and laptops or, at the very least, always clearly offer the option of cover at a higher premium. It's not good enough to expect people to use their home insurance policy to pick up the tab," added Lloyd.

"To avoid a nasty surprise, travellers should shop around and read the small print or they could find themselves seriously out of pocket."

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