Check travel insurance small print, warns Financial Ombudsman

31 January 2018
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Holidaymakers have been urged to check the small print of their travel insurance policies by the Financial Ombudsman Service as it publishes its latest complaints data.

The Financial Ombudsman Service, which arbitrates financial complaints where no agreement can be reached between the consumer and company involved, has reviewed over 900 travel insurance complaints made in the last three months of 2017.

It found that insurers only treated customers unfairly in one in five cases, which it says demonstrates that insurers act correctly in the majority of cases.

However, the Financial Ombudsman Service has urged holidaymakers to check the fine print of their travel policies before buying cover, after coming across cases where consumers mistakenly thought they were covered.  

For example, the Ombudsman says that alcohol exclusions are common in travel insurance policies, which means claims can be turned down if the insurer links excessive drinking to an accident.

Other claims that were commonly refused included where specific kinds of activities were undertaken, such as winter sports or cruise breaks, which weren’t covered under the customer’s standard travel policy.

According to the Ombudsman, activities that carry a high risk of injury or take place in remote locations often cause insurers to be highly particular in application of terms and conditions especially as the burden of proof is on them and not the claimant.

Caroline Wayman, chief ombudsman and chief executive at the Financial Ombudsman Service, comments: “In general, holidays go to plan – and for most people, the types of problems insurance is there to cover won’t be brought to life.

“However, each year people contact us when they’ve had trouble on holiday – and haven’t had the help from their travel insurer that they expected. And most of the time, these disputes centre on what’s covered and what’s not.

“Insurers may choose not to pay out if they believe someone’s been drinking excessively – although this doesn’t mean holidays need to be totally alcohol-free. In each case we look at, we’ll carefully weigh up all the evidence to decide, on balance, whether the insurer has made the right call.”

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm concerned about my travel policy (free with my Lloyds current account). Because it's free, does that means there's more restricted cover? I guess I'll have to read the small print.

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