Travel in hope - but fight for that claim
Lost bags, stolen cameras, accidents - get your insurers to pay up, writes Steve Lodge. But beware - they're good at sniffing out fraudsters
Sunday 24 August 1997
The Insurance Ombudsman, who has the power to overturn insurers' decisions and who will arbitrate for free on disputed claims, says some insurers are over-using a reasonable care "get-out" clause in policies. Many rejections of this kind, if brought to the ombudsman - or to the courts - would face being overturned. "You should always challenge a rejection of this kind," says a spokes-man for the ombudsman.
The call comes as travel insurers brace themselves for many thousands of claims for holidays taken this summer - around one in 20 holidaymakers puts in some sort of travel insurance claim.
Past experience suggests many holidaymakers will be disappointed at insurers' apparent attempts to wriggle out of claims. With thefts and losses, the ombudsman says that insurers need to do more than simply assert that a holidaymaker did not show "reasonable care" to avoid paying up: they need to prove "recklessness" - that someone had "courted a known risk" and taken no steps to reduce risks.
In practice this means that people who fall asleep on the beach and wake to find belongings gone should be entitled to a payout, although the ombudsman's view might change if the losses were very high, and people who go swimming and return to find possessions missing are less likely to have a case.
The ombudsman, who can only consider cases brought to his attention once you have reached deadlock with an insurer, has other advice to holidaymakers fighting insurers.
Insurers are not entitled to reject claims for lost or stolen valuables just because holidaymakers do not have receipts, he says. In the past some insurers have insisted on receipts or manuals for items such as cameras as a way of reducing or avoiding altogether the cost of a claim because they doubt an incident actually took place. But holidaymakers will not always be able to produce receipts or other documentation, particularly for older items. Insurers may be required to accept a police report of a theft abroad as sufficient evidence for full settlement, says the ombudsman.
Insurers, perhaps not surprisingly, are unhappy with this view and in many cases regard it as encouraging fraudulent claims (see article below).
Another point is that where a policy carries what is deemed an unusual or onerous condition or exclusion, this should be brought to the holidaymakers' attention when the policy is taken out. If it was not, and the condition is used as the reason why a claim will not be paid, then a holidaymaker may have a case for being paid, says the ombudsman. Examples of such exclusions include accidents from riding a bicycle (sometimes excluded on the basis of being a "hazardous activity") or having to give a month's notice of any cancellation: most cancellations stem from last-minute emergencies or illness.
Here are some other tips to help get claims paid:
q Read through the policy before you go to check that it covers sports and activities you might do. Many insurers are prepared to add in activities, often at no extra cost, but you should get this in writing. Equally, since cover for the treatment of existing medical conditions is normally included, if you want cover you should get something in writing. Also watch out for limits on the value of possessions. Most policies have single-item limits of pounds 250 so if you have an expensive camera it might be worth covering it through an "all-risks" extension to your household policy, which gives cover outside the home. Equally, if you don't want to lose a no-claims discount on a home policy, ensure that you do not have an all-risks extension that a travel insurer can take a "contribution" from.
q Take a copy of the policy document with you. It should include helpline numbers and tell you what to do if something goes wrong. If you do need medical treatment, contact the given emergency assistance number as soon as possible.
q If possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss to the police within 24 hours and get a police report, or at least a reference number for the report.
q Ensure that you get receipts for any expenses that you plan to claim for.
q Stick to any time limit for claiming set by the policy - normally within 31 days of your return.
q Avoid sob stories when making a claim. They are unlikely to cut any ice. Equally, don't be surprised if a failure to provide information or documentation only leads to delays.
q Be persistent - if your claim is rejected take it to the chairman's office. If the insurer does not offer to settle in full, write to say you plan to take the claim to the complaints body of which the insurer is a member (normally the Insurance Ombudsman, 0171 928 7600, but sometimes the Personal Insurance Arbitration Service, 0171 837 4483). This may prompt the insurer to settle. Taking a claim to the ombudsman will cost the insurer around
pounds 500 whether it wins or loses. With the average baggage claim being a few hundred pounds, and that for medical expenses not much more, an insurer might be tempted to settle.
q Even if a claim for cancelling a holiday is rejected, the policyholder may be entitled to a part-rebate of the policy premium.
q If baggage is lost or damaged during a flight, first report it to the airline. You cannot get "double" compensation from the carrier and an insurer, but with an insurer you might have to pay for the first pounds 30 or so of a claim (the excess): the airline may compensate you in full.
A travel insurance policy will normally offer some cover for travel delays, but don't expect it to cover wider "loss of enjoyment" - take this up with a travel agent or tour operator. Thomsons is offering to fly home, and pay full refunds to, holidaymakers who find their holiday does not match its brochure, but you are flown home early.
23 January 2015 08:00 PM
I had dinner with the pensions minister Steve Webb this week. There was a wide-ranging discussion about the new pensions freedoms starting in April, and changes to the state pension. Crucially, I also got to ask Mr Webb whether he had any plans to have another look at the injustice that is frozen pensions.
23 January 2015 08:00 PM
23 January 2015 08:00 PM
While the health of the economy is not insignificant, Mark Dampier finds it incredibly unpredictable in terms of its impact on the stock market
21 January 2015 12:32 PM
A new free app is aimed at the three-fifths of Brits who have never switched supplier
20 January 2015 09:34 AM
Regulator’s investigation into the market found that around £160bn was held in easy access savings accounts that pay interest lower or equal to BoE base rate
17 January 2015 12:00 AM
Simon Read: Information is power. And it's in the wrong hands when people are cold-called by companies that know they're in debt
17 January 2015 12:00 AM
In debt? You're likely to be targeted by unscrupulous companies that hope to profit from your misfortune. They may try to pretend to be your friend by offering what they call "help" – but almost certainly that help will come with a cost and leave you worse off than you were before they got in touch.
17 January 2015 12:00 AM
In less than three months' time radical changes to pensions will take effect, providing investors with more freedom. Yet for those who prefer to make their own investment decisions, the choice of funds available is overwhelming. And an income drawdown account is also not particularly easy to manage.
15 January 2015 12:23 PM
The minimum amount for which you can be forced into bankruptcy is being raised from £750 to £5,000
14 January 2015 08:55 AM
A shock report reveals that fuel poverty is affecting desperate families – and their children
14 January 2015 08:59 AM
Most people are too confused to know how to use their pensions for a secure income
10 January 2015 12:00 AM
Simon Read: Inflation is riding the slow train. So why have we been given a one-way ticket to travel on the fares express?
10 January 2015 12:00 AM
I struck a chord with many of you when I wrote a piece earlier this week about rising train fares. It seems there is an army of travellers who feel they've been ripped off by increased transport costs.
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...
Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...
£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...
Day In a Page
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village