Travel insurance process etc
3:35pm, 20 Mar 2020
larkimI've tried asking this same question on a legal group, on a consumer interests group, to insurers, and had no useful replies (and I don't just mean replies that agree with my way of looking at the world!). I know part of the answer here is "talk to your insurance company" and I will when they are a little quieter!
Let's make an assumption that a travel insurance policy is in force and it offers coverage that isn't in doubt due to the current issues (i.e. doesn't restrict cover to exclude covid-19 etc). There are a couple of scenarios that I'm wondering what the right approach is.
First one - if my accommodation provider has told me my stay is cancelled (by them, in response to a foreign government action), but they are offering a credit note in full against my booking, is this claimable? Or would I have to communicate with the provider and tell them that I want them to fully cancel with me, offer to charge me the full whack, and then I can claim via insurance? It's unusual that a provider cancels like this - the policies generally seem to envisage that the traveller themselves will be forced to cancel due to the UK govt restricting travel, not that the provider themselves cancels (for whatever reason, tbh). And I'm conscious of the economic reality that a medium sized hotel chain cannot afford to refund all of its customers for the next 6 weeks, even if that is what their contract says they should do. But if they cancel and refuse to refund, they are technically in breach of contract and I could sue them, instead of claim via insurance (technically).
Second one - if a group of 3 of us have booked the accommodation, with one person making all the payments and getting contributions from the other 2, but we all have individual travel insurance policies which cover the scenario, will an insurer accept individual claims based on those "mates transactions" of splitting the bill three ways? How will they be certain that each individual isn't making a full claim through their own policy, and trying to get multiple insurers to pay out (for example)?
It seems daft asking these questions of a group of runners / swimmers / cyclists / forum addicts. But you're an intelligent bunch and I trust your opinions!!
7:38pm, 25 Mar 2020
umLarkim - I think the first action would be to read the original T&Cs of the tbooking transaction. Buried in there will be the actions if the supplier/agent cancels.
As for insurance - have you read your policy? Either posted or available on-line? That should describe the cancellation cover. I just read mine (Aviva) and was surprised to see two general exclusions :-
The FCO provide travel advice to help UK residents make judgements about travelling to a particular country, providing
guidance on staying safe whilst in the country and being aware of on-going issues that may interfere with your travel plans.
You should be aware that this policy does not provide Cancellation or Abandonment cover in the event that the FCO
issue a Travel Advisory against all travel or all but essential travel to a particular country, unless you have selected the Travel
Disruption optional cover and this is shown on your policy schedule. In the event of such a Travel Advisory being issued for
your destination, you should always contact your tour operator/travel agent in the first instance.
I do have the disruption cover.
Claims resulting from any tour operator, travel agent, airline or other service provider becoming insolvent and not being able or willing to carry out any part of their duty to you.
This one was a shock - I may not be rebewing with Aviva unless there's some type of cover here.
But where are you seeing 'only a credit' offered? All the hotel chains I've seen are offering full cancellation regardless of original terms, and similarly airbnb offering full cancelation. All date limited, but I assume they'll continue as lockdown and travel restrictions apply.
As for the case of 'mates' - I think all will want to see evidence of the arrangement (ie booking confirmations, names on documents etc) and each cover their own 'name'. If I booked travel for 3 mates, my insurance company would only cover me - unless the mates were on my policy.
9:56am, 26 Mar 2020
larkimUm, thanks for the response. Yes, I've got my ducks in a line in respect of the policy. The cover is in place for the FCO travel ban (policy is with Columbus Direct which does allow for cancellation cover in the event of the FCO or other govt bodies banning travel).
In terms of the credit only, that's exactly what my providers have done - Pierre et Vacances. And the same is true for the ski lessons and some other services which I'd prebooked. They simply don't have the cash to make refunds, and certainly from the service providers they don't have any requirement for bonds etc to be retained to fund these sorts of scenarios, unlike the package operators and some hotel chains.
My insurer has advised me that they need me to be out of pocket to claim - so me holding a credit note isn't acceptable to them, I need to get the accommodation provider to confirm that they are not providing a refund in any form to make it claimable.
The normal course of events would be that the FCO would ban travel, I'd then tell the provider, find out what cancellation charge would be and then claim via the insurance. As the provider has got ahead of the game by cancelling in advance, I don't have that option, which is clearly not the way the world normally expects these things to happen.
In terms of the "mates" (actually extended family) for most things there are names on the bookings, but not everything. But I suppose that's just about making declarations to the various insurers that you're not being fraudulent. They would have to have grounds for believing we were, otherwise there'd be a route through their complaints / ombudsman processes.
10:09am, 26 Mar 2020
umThe other route you may have Larkim, is via your credit card company, if paid by credit card. But I suspect any refund to you will immediately be applied back to the original suppliers, whether they can afford it or not - so that's on your conscience or decision.
Back in the summer of foot and mouth I did have a Lake District cottage booking. The agency played hard - no refunds other than by their cancellation policy and gave a pretty good 'sob story' over the phone of local businesses needing the custom. So we stuck with it, only walked roads and 1 or 2 open named paths instead of a week on the hills. I did run Kirkstone Pass - which I'd probably have never done otherwise.
So the holiday wasn't too bad - and then in their Xmas raffle I won a free week for the next year. So suddenly my 'disappointment' was completely removed & I'm their biggest fan. And the children (now adults) will always remember their walking holiday without walks. I think they may have preferred it.
10:12am, 26 Mar 2020
larkimYep that was my concern with the s75 route. I'd ideally want to get the insurance company to pick up the tab, as this is precisely what their business is set up to do. Particularly the smaller business (e.g. ski lesson company, one of whom we have a loose private connection with anyway via friend of a friend) this could cripple them, so whilst I could sit pretty with my own cash back via the credit card route, I'd rather not harm them if I can help it.
Of course, equally I don't want to risk being out of pocket completely in the event that the policy doesn't pay up, so having the option on the credit notes is helpful.
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