Money Grouse: Using the small print to your advantage

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The Independent Online
THE RODDA family of Camborne, Cornwall, received pounds 60 from Brittany Ferries after the ship in which they were due to sail to France in July caught fire.

They had to join another ferry at Poole, Dorset, rather than Plymouth. This was a longer journey than they had expected, and cost an extra pounds 93 for food and petrol.

The Roddas have no grouse about Brittany's pounds 60 offer, nor about the way their local AA office reorganised the travel arrangements. There were carried out 'very efficiently'.

But Mr Rodda is annoyed that the family's travel policy, also from the AA, tried to deduct the pounds 60 from the pounds 93 claim he made for expenses on the travel policy.

Although the travel policy was from the AA, the part relevant to the Roddas' claim was underwritten by Home & Overseas.

This part of the policy undertakes to pay up to pounds 200 of extra travel expenses incurred because plans are changed as a result of accidents such as fire.

The policy has 21 different terms and conditions, one of which states: 'The insurers shall not be liable for any claim which, but for the existence of this insurance, would be recoverable under any other insurance.'

But surely it was debatable as to whether the Brittany payment could be classed as insurance? The AA put this to Home & Overseas and returned with the reply that the insurer would now pay the full claim.

But Jean Johnson, travel underwriter at the AA Travel and Information Service, said the spirit of the policy was that it would not meet expenses paid by other parties. Home & Overseas would now review the wording of the policy.

The Roddas' experience shows that, with a reasonable understanding of the English language, it is possible to play the insurance companies at their own game.

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