News: flight insurance rip-off; car hire headache

The best deals, the latest hot-spots and what's new in travel


Flight insurance rip-off

Flight insurance rip-off

Some travel agents are making profits of up to 400 per cent on the insurance designed to protect customers against airline collapses. The Independent has discovered that some agents are charging £5 for Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI), which costs them as little as £1.

Travellers who buy flight tickets can be at risk if the airline they book with goes bust. Travel agents selling scheduled air tickets usually either give a binding undertaking that the company has made arrangements to protect passengers' money in the event of scheduled airline failure (Trailfinders, the UK's largest independent travel company, makes this assurance) or they provide, at the passenger's expense, scheduled airline failure insurance (SAFI). A "nominal" charge is made for the premium for this protection.

With many airlines in dire financial straits, and Government action to address the issue some way off, the need for SAFI is clear. But some companies appear to be overcharging for it. Jeffrey Klipp of Marcus Hearn, a major provider of SAFI to the UK travel industry, said that his company stipulates that the agency or tour operator must not charge more than double the cost. He said that even after adding in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) he would not expect to see his clients charging customers much more than £2 for SAFI. But many of the leading travel companies who use the SAFI option charge a minimum of £5 per person for it.

A spokesman for Travelbag, part of the e-bookers group, said: "Our clients are protected through a corporate insurance policy. The £5 fee is not profit for Travelbag but goes into a pot to cover Travelbag's administration expenses in the case of having to cancel, re-book or refund in the case of scheduled airline failure."

* Bizarrely, most SAFI schemes will not cover travel with the airlines that are likeliest to go bust. Many policies exclude airlines that are, at the time of booking, in (or have requested) a form of "creditor protection" such as the US scheme, chapter 11. United, the world's second-largest airline, is currently in chapter 11.

If you are booking a ticket on such an airline, the agency you are booking with may have constructed an alternative failure protection scheme; failing that, the agent should make it clear to you that you are not financially protected against that airline going bust.

Car hire headache

Next month, eight nations in Eastern Europe will join the EU. But travellers aiming for the Eastern bloc will still find it difficult, expensive or, in some cases, impossible to find a suitable hire car.

As the rules stand, rented vehicles generally cannot be driven from western Europe into the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Rental companies cite "business reasons" or "fleet control purposes" - code for concerns over vehicle theft.

Cars rented in Germany, Austria and Italy are allowed to be taken across the former Iron Curtain only if they are not "luxury" vehicles such as Mercedes.

The obvious starting place for a road trip to Eastern Europe is Austria, easily reached from Britain on a range of cheap flights. Crossing the eastern frontiers is permitted, but an extra charge is levied. When driving from Vienna to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, Hertz adds 50 per cent to its Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection fees. Avis charges €14-17 (£10-12) per day, while Europcar levies a one-off charge of €35 (£25).

While the car rental world maintains a level of regulation that the EC would be proud of, freedom of movement within an expanding Europe does not seem high on its agenda.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin