Many travel insurance claims are rejected, or pay out less than you may have expected. Have you ever had difficulties claiming on your travel insurance if your holiday went wrong?
When you buy travel insurance, would you think to tell the insurer about the state of health of all your cousins?
I certainly wouldn’t. In fact I wouldn’t know about all my cousins’ underlying state of health. I can’t imagine calling them up to ask about their health and explaining that I need the information for my travel insurance policy, just in case they die suddenly while I’m on holiday and I need to cancel.
Yet that is what some travel insurers state in their small print. Many insist that all pre-existing conditions of ‘close relatives’ – sometimes defined as including cousins – must be declared.
Trying to expect the unexpected
When we looked at the reasons Which? members were given for having their travel insurance claims rejected, this issue was high on the list.
We heard about a travelling companion’s husband being diagnosed with a brain tumour, only to be told the insurer would not cover the costs of their lost holiday. Another member was told the same thing when their father-in-law died on the second day of the holiday.
The insurers’ positions were that these illnesses must have been known about before the policies were bought, so should have been declared. Our members’ view was that they didn’t know they had to declare it, because the clause was hidden in small print, and that the death or diagnosis was unexpected.
Complaining about claiming
Some people found that their insurers refused claims for lost or stolen items because the incident had not been reported to police within 24 hours. This included an example when the item was a pair of glasses that were lost on a cruise ship.
Other complaints included insurers saying stolen belongings were unattended when they were only out of sight for moments on a train or in a hotel – or even with a hotel porter – and insurers accepting members had a valid claim, but refusing to pay the taxes element of their airfare – which can make up more than half the total cost.
These exclusions are generally contained in insurers’ terms and conditions, but you often have to look hard to find them.
And while people may unrealistically expect travel insurance to cover every eventuality, Which? research has shown that travel insurance has the highest rate of rejection of all sectors we investigated, including car, home, pet, phone and gadget insurance. It also has the lowest satisfaction scores. This suggests that customers are getting a raw deal.
What’s your experience of travel insurance? Have you made a claim and was it met?