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Have Your Say: Holiday insurance

Oh, and some stripy flip-flops. How much information is too much?

If you lose belongings or have them stolen on holiday, insurers routinely ask you to provide as much evidence as possible to prove that you did actually own those items.

That could take the form of receipts, photographs or even the original packaging.

But Money Box has learnt that being too meticulous in the details you provide can, in itself, sometimes arouse suspicion.

Dr Dave

Insurance contracts are subject to "utmost good faith" which means that both parties must ensure the contract fits their needs. Once in place, the insurer should be obliged to meet their commitments to pay ANY and ALL claims. In my opinion, if they want to impose conditions, or check validity, this should be done BEFORE the contract is agreed, not when a claim is being made. If insurance companies and the insured all met their good faith obligations, the industry would be in a much better place. Acknowledging that some people do cheat and lie, surely it should be up to the insurance company to prove (at their expense) that someone is making a false claim rather than assuming it and forcing stress and anxiety onto the claimant.

Well done Lisa, you've just stolen Ј220 from the insurers, and ultimately all the other customers. Hope you're proud of yourself, perhaps you can give out your bank details and everyone can just send you the money in the first place.

Richard Whittington

I agree insurance companies do everything they can to avoid their liabilities. My father was in the US last year and had a medical emergency. He had Ј5m of coverage but the insurance company denied his Ј50,000 claim on a technical phrase in the policy - they argued that we only took one trip on a multiple trip annual policy, despite having bought a multitrip rider on the prior 3 policies! You can appeal, but by the time the ombudsman is reached, the phone calls and stress of the bills has been going on for over a year. There needs to be a change in the law to simplify the wording in these policies so it is black and white, in easily understood language as to what is covered and what you have bought. I think the BBC should do some investigative journalism to see how many claims are routinely denied as part of normal business process to make people give up and "go away".

Some years ago due to a strike by baggage handlers all our luggage was checked-in but never put on a plane home. After some weeks of waiting for our luggage to be delivered to our home as promised by the airline we gave up. A claim was made to our insurers for luggage not returned. The insurers requested photographic evidence as proof of me having worn the shirts I claimed for on holiday. The camera I had used for holiday photographs had been packed, as per advice before checking in, in my suitcase. As I could not produce said photos the insurers rejected my claim. I have never since or will ever again buy rip-off insurance. Cost versus benefit is far too heavily weighed in the insurer's favour.

Alan Carleton

Annie, Redhill

I work in travel insurance - to me these comments raise some fundamental issues about the nature of travel insurance. Firstly it is currently grossly under-priced due to the highly competitive market environment, low profit margins lead insurers to seek as one of the earlier comments highlighted "to decline rather than to pay" in order to balance their

books. Secondly there is a prevailing negative public perception of insurance companies in general which predisposes the public to the idea that fraud is acceptable. Fraud is never acceptable! Finally that it is way past time we in the industry smartened up our act and redesigned our policy wordings, which have been acknowledged by the Ombudsman to be one of the most complex contracts anyone ever enters into. Travel insurance should better manage the expectations of the traveller and stop purporting to be "comprehensive". It should also stop taking money under false pretences for risks which are for most people already covered elsewhere, which is often the case with personal possessions cover and personal accident benefits.

I submitted a claim for a mobile phone stolen while I was in Copenhagen plus some taxi costs involved in replacing my passport which went at the same time. Police report, taxi receipts were all submitted. When the insurance company started asking for the airline ticket (I was not claiming any air travel costs, and you would think a Copenhagen police report would indicate I was where I said I was) I gave the claim up as too much trouble, which I suspect is just what they wanted.

Although I have also made one successful claim for lost items during a South American trip, generally, it does seem utterly illogical to run a statistically-organized business model based upon trust and not proof. Insurance companies specifically engineer most policies to ensure their stance can be to claim that the customer has not fully-disclosed details in order to invalidate any subsequent claim, which is why so many modern policies are so cheap! When I get buildings insurance, I now get a written statement from the insurer that they have read and taken a copy of my surveyor's report, so they know as much as I. Why is no one else suspicious of the questions they don't ask? Essentially, if an insurance price looks too good to be true, as with everything else, it probably is!

My wife left her handbag behind in the toilet at the boarding gate at Stansted Airport. We didn't realise until we were on the plane, and we weren't allowed to go back and look. The airport staff had a look but couldn't find it. We phoned the lost property and reported it to the police when we returned three days later, but they didn't want to know about it. We couldn't get any kind of lost property report from either the airport or the police - they were both totally useless! We lost over Ј400 worth of stuff. The terms of our travel insurance said we needed to have a written report within 24 hours, but since the airport and police wouldn't even give us any kind of report we had no hope and so gave up trying to make a claim.

Graham, Nottingham

I had travel insurance for a trip to South America a few years ago. Around Christmas I was in Brazil and fell ill. A friend tried to ring the insurer, but it was closed for the holiday. The guest house owner was worried and rang for an ambulance, against my wishers. Everything turned out ok. And I wasn't charged at the hospital. Now I never buy travel insurance as I consider it as worthless.

My own experience of 15+ years around the globe, in so-called "safe" and "less safe countries", and of incidents pertinent to travel insurance, lead me not to take any travel insurance for the last FIVE years, not to stop travelling. To me they are a waste of time and money. It is as simple as that.

Category: Insurance

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