Browse through the common complaints received by the insurance regulatory bodies (like the Financial Ombudsman in the UK), and one specific one keeps popping up. A traveller who has taken out insurance for a holiday, including cancellation coverage, cancels their holiday a couple of days before departure – for valid and covered reasons. They submit their insurance claim, only to find that their claim is not considered valid as the insurance coverage starts on the day of departure.
Any decent insurance company should advise you clearly as to when your policy starts, and from what date you are insured. If part of the reason that you’re purchasing travel insurance is to protect you for trip cancellation, you should make sure that the coverage starts on an appropriate date. You should discuss this with your insurance company, and ask questions to make sure everything is clear. Do note as well, though, that questions you may ask during the purchase of the insurance can sometimes be used as evidence when disputing a claim.
The financial ombudsman detail a case where a traveller purchased insurance for a trip to Tenerife. The traveller cancelled the trip two days before, only to find that by doing so they were not covered as the insurance came into force on the day of the trip. They detail the case here:
We obtained a tape recording of Miss W’s initial phone conversation with the insurer, when the policy had been arranged. It was clear from this that she had told the insurer she was going to Tenerife on 17 November – and that the representative had suggested that would be a suitable start date for the policy.
While it could not be said that the representative had actually “advised” Miss W to have a policy that started on that date, he had not made any attempt to explain the implications of not having insurance in place before then.
When we raised this with the insurer, it said the policy documents made it clear that the policyholder would not be covered if the holiday was cancelled before the policy came into force.
However, in our view the insurer had not done enough to highlight to Miss W the risk that she was taking. We thought it unlikely that she would have agreed to the start date suggested by the insurer if she had understood this risk.
We told the insurer to treat the claim as if the policy had been in force on the date when Miss W cancelled her holiday. We said it should add interest to any payment due under the policy.
Tags: travel insurance