Travel News: Insurance for not travelling

A company is offering insurance against deciding not to travel. Mark MacKenzie reports

B ook your flight, then decide not to go - will anyone insure you against changing your mind? One online agent launched last week what it claims is a genuine first in the travel insurance market - a policy that offers financial protection even if you decide you don't want to travel. Ebookers.com, which takes around 2,000 flight bookings a day, calls it "disinclination cover".

"Of course, most customers book flights in the belief they will be able to take them," explains Ciaran Lalley, the company's managing director for the UK and Ireland. "Yet circumstances often arise that prevent them from doing so and this cover offers peace of mind."

The press release accompanying the product's launch goes a step further, describing it as "the perfect solution for commitment-phobes and oversubscribed intrepid travellers". One might be inclined to ask why those with commitment issues about going on holiday are booking flights in the first place.

Nevertheless, for as little as £5, purchasers of the new product can insure themselves against a range of short-notice emergencies that prevent them from flying. These include: a family illness; being called for jury service; the breakdown of public transport; and a fire or burglary at home. And should you simply not want to set out, the USP is a 50 per cent reimbursement of the cost of your flight, provided you cancel at least one week before departure.

The UK's travel insurance industry is worth an estimated £600m annually and offers a vast range of policies, covering tourists for everything from skiing accidents to acts of terrorism. Given that some cover for short-term eventualities already exists on many policies, isn't this just a case of re-inventing the wheel?

"It is true that most travel insurance policies will cover you if your house burns down or if you cancel because a close relative is taken ill," explains Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers. "The same is true of a fire which requires you to be at home, as well as flights missed due to the failure of public transport. A policy based on a disinclination to travel, however, is something we haven't seen before and shows that insurers are continually having to be creative to win custom."

The attitude of most airlines towards missed or cancelled flights varies. The more accommodating, including the bulk of major carriers, will do their best to rebook you, often up to a year from the original date of departure. It is, however, a facility not usually available for flights purchased through "discount" websites, of which ebookers .com is Britain's third largest.

"Deciding not to travel is often an entirely sensible and pragmatic decision," Mr Tarling adds, "but [until now] has rarely carried much sway with insurers.

"If, for example, the Foreign Office merely advises against travel to a certain region, rather than expressly warning against it, most insurers won't honour a claim should you cancel."

His words are a reminder that many of us still travel without full knowledge of what our insurance policies cover us for. In recent months, an investigation by the consumer watchdog Which? found that only one in five customers who bought travel insurance on the high street did so with a complete understanding of what they were buying.

"Ultimately," says Tarling, "this has to be a good thing for the consumer." He also points out that the insurance industry remains lucrative precisely because the majority of customers never claim. Moreover, getting some sort of refund on your flight is one thing - but persuading your accommodation provider or car hire firm to be so understanding is quite another.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album