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Is your Bank Travel Insurance worth the paper it’s written on?

Bank Travel Insurance

Mr Scott The Herald Scotland


Packaged bank accounts have been used by banks for years, as a way to secure your business and even to justify charging an annual fee.

Travel Insurance is a common inclusion in these packages, but when it comes to making a claim, just how good are they at paying out?

The “Herald Scotland” report on a four month long battle with the Royal Bank of Scotland and their Ultimate Reward Account.

Mr Scott and his sister were holidaying in Malta, when his sister Sandra was taken ill. Sadly Sandra was diagnosed with a brain tumour. All should have gone smoothly as Malta and the UK have reciprocal health agreements.

Sandra’s stay in hospital was eleven days. The missed flights, additional hotel accommodation for Mr Scott and cost of an accompanying nurse, was not covered under the reciprocal agreement. The additional costs should have been covered by First Assist, who underwrote the packaged travel Insurance product.

Mr Scott appeared to do everything correctly by trying to contact First Assist as soon as possible. Unbelievably, First Assist refused to speak to him and insisted that they speak to Sandra.

Sandra was in a coma, but First Assist refused to talk to anyone else about the case. If true, this is a very unusual response. Under the emergency medical expenses section of a travel insurance it states;

“That you or a travelling companion should call us as soon as possible”

Mr Scott ended up funding the additional expenses himself and re contacted First Assist when back in the UK, only to be told the same story. First Assist then argued “Data protection Issues”.

Finally after visiting his local Bank of Scotland branch, Mr Scott managed to get the claims department to take details of the claim, only to be told that because he hadn’t contacted the medical assist team, when the incident first occurred, they would need additional proof.

They required a detailed medical certificate from Sandra’s doctor and evidence that an accompanying nurse was necessary, together with reports from the hospital in Malta.

Sadly fourteen weeks later Sandra passed away and still the claim hadn’t been settled.

Eventually four months later, Mr Scott received an apology from the Bank of Scotland and settlement of the claim.

  1. Why did First Assist refuse to acknowledge the claim and speak to Mr Scott in the First Place.
  2. Why was Mr Scott treated so unsympathetically by so many different departments?
  3. Would Mr Scott have received the same treatment if he had paid for the Travel Insurance Policy himself?
  4. Was this a cynical attempt by the Insurer to get out of paying the claim?
There is a clause in the policy which states the following;
“It may affect your claim if you, your travelling companion or a doctor/nurse does not contact us on the number above. We do not cover any costs over £500 where prior agreement regarding treatment has not been obtained from the Assistance Helpline.”

There can be a problem with too many links in the chain. You have the customer Mr Scott, you have the Bank of Scotland who offer the packaged account, First Assist who underwrite the policy and a medical assistance call centre. Was this a lack of communication or an attempt to use the policy conditions to refute the claim?

This appears to be a genuine claim and one that ultimately resulted in a death. First Assist could have saved themselves a lot of negative publicity by settling the claim quickly and sympathetically.

The need for travel insurance

little boy injures foot - travel Insurance

photo courtesy of Ian Hinchliffe/


A six year old boy trapped his foot in an escalator and was stuck for three hours whilst rescue services tried to free him.

The family were on holiday in Durban South Africa when the incident occured according to a report in the Daily Mail 

Thanks to two successful operations in South Africa, the boys foot was saved and he was allowed to fly home after eight weeks.

The Daily Mail reports that the parents paid the £4,000 cost of the operation and were going to claim it back from their travel insurance.

With claims like these, I would expect the Insurer to take over and settle all the bills direct. The daily mail did not mention the additional cost of the family staying in South Africa for a further eight weeks, whilst the boy recovered, something that the Insurer would also have to pay out for. That bill alone could have run in to the tens of thousands.

This story perfectly illustrates the need for travel insurance whenever you take a holiday abroad

Flight MH370 Disaster Boosts Demand for Travel Insurance

is travel insurance worth it

We all have a tendency to get complacent in life, and cut back on things that we should buy to save a few pounds.

This is certainly what happens with travel insurance. People forget to buy it or deliberately skip buying it in an effort to save money.
Unfortunately, travel cover is something many British travellers do not take seriously.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) discovered that 48% of Britons did not realise that if they fell sick while abroad and did not have insurance they would have to pay all medical bills and repatriation charges.

According to a survey carried out by the Association of British Insurers Brits, spend more on magazines and sweets at the airport than they do on a travel policy. Often, people do not check the small print and end up under insured.

However, every now and again something happens, which shakes things up and makes people think. One such example is the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March 2014. Despite a multinational search, the plane and the 239 passengers and crew on board the flight have yet to be found.

There were no British nationals aboard that flight, but nine died when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down near Hrabove, Ukraine on 17 July 2014. The two events reminded travellers across the globe, including those from the UK, that anything can happen. Demand for travel insurance shot up almost immediately after each of these events.

One passenger told Oman News:
“I think the disappearance of MH 370 is a wake-up call that reminds us that we need to take adequate cover and ensure that in case something happens to us, our families are adequately compensated,”

The sentiments of this passenger have been reflected across the globe. There is evidence that many who have never considered buying travel insurance before are now doing so.

If this is you and you are not sure how to start, use this site, you will find the advice you need to buy a good quality policy that covers every eventuality. Click here for more information

How different Insurers react to the same claim

PCU Choir

As I have stated on this site numerous times, you only find out if an Insurer and Insurance Policy is any good, when you need to make a claim. By that time it is too late to find out if your policy was worth the money.

I therefore find it extremely interesting, when a situation arises that, allows me to compare the claims service of different Insurance Companies, when they face settlement of the same claim.

This article written by Nicole Blackmore of the Telegraph is about a 60 strong choir from Portsmouth, who had been booked for a musical tour in Italy. In May 2013, their British Airways flight was cancelled along with numerous others, because an aircraft had caught light on its final approach to London and had to make an emergency landing.

Being that there were 60 of them, it was extremely difficult to find alternative flights quickly and sadly the tour had to be cancelled.

British Airways had no choice but to refund the cost of their flights, which they duly did, but advised they were not liable for any additional costs, such as the accommodation that had been booked or any additional excursions that had been paid for. They rightly pointed the group in the direction of their Travel Insurance.

It turned out that each person had taken out their own Travel Insurance. As Individuals turned to their Travel Insurers for settlement, the difference in service and response was staggering.

To their credit some Insurers paid out straight away. LV, M&S, HSBC, AVIVA, all paid out straight away and without fuss. Other companies lost paperwork, were extremely slow or declined the claims outright. Axa, Staysure, Thomas Cook, all initially turned down the claim under the cancellation section of the policy. It was only after the intervention of the Daily Telegraphs “Your Money” that claims were settled.

A couple of the group were still fighting with their Insurer a year and a half after the event!

Technically those insurers refusing to pay out under the cancellation section were correct. The claim should have been for abandonment of the holiday.

Three thoughts spring to mind:

1. Was it the failure by the customer to understand the policy correctly and claim under the wrong section, that caused the problems?

2. Should it be down to the customer to choose the correct section of the policy to claim under, or should the Insurance Company have sufficient knowledge to be able to assist the customer in settling the claim if it was valid?

3. Are some of the more dubious Insurers using customer ignorance to avoid paying claims at all costs?

Upon reflection I think it is a bit of all three. It is clear in this situation that understanding your policy is very important, so that you put forward your claim correctly. Sadly as Insurance Companies need to keep costs down to remain competitive, they have to employ people with little or no expertise and I am sure lack of knowledge was also a contributing factor. There are also companies out there that will do whatever they can to avoid paying out!

It may have been better (and possibly cheaper) to arrange a group travel policy for the choir. Once the Insurer had agreed to pay the claim, everyone would have been paid out at the same time and without all the hassle.

Just to re-iterate, choosing the most suitable policy and a reputable Insurer is important, but I understand this has to be balanced with a competitive premium (not necessarily the cheapest). Hopefully you will find the impartial information on this site helpful, so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Taking a Cruise? Don’t Ignore Cruise Travel Insurance

cruise ship

This article is from a US travel insurance broker on the pitfalls of not taking cruise travel insurance.

“The number of global passengers taking a cruise in 2013 is around 20.9 million, out of which 17.6 million departed from North America. For many travellers, a cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is usually one of the most expensive trips a traveller can take, but it can get far more expensive if any mishaps happen, while you are away from the mainland at sea……..” click here to read more

Although US based their advice is still pertinent to UK travellers. Don’t necessarily accept insurance from the cruise company themselves, as generally the cover is not as good as you would get from a specialist travel insurer.

Only minor ailments and injuries can be dealt with on board a cruise liner and anything more serious would mean being airlifted to the nearest hospital. A procedure that is not easy and certainly not cheap. Most specialist travel policies will include emergency evacuation as standard, but it is important you read the policy carefully. If you are still not confident read my guide on Cruise Travel Insurance here.

59% of older travellers shop around for travel insurance

Travel Insurance Premiums rise for the elderly

Senior discounts the largest provider of age specific discounts in the UK has recently published its survey amongst seniors about their opinion of travel insurance.

Of the 1230 respondents 59% shop around for a better travel insurance deal, because of the high prices being charged by Travel Insurers. 26% shop around occasionally.

insurance shopping

Several of the respondents commented that Travel Insurers should realise 80 is the new 60 and amend their charging structures accordingly. Prices are so high that in some cases older travellers take the risk and don’t insure at all.

58% of respondents had only minor pre existing medical conditions and 26% were health and agile. A total of 84% felt they were being charged higher premiums despite being a low risk.

”I scratched my leg just before Christmas last year. I had it checked at my doctor’s. The nurse swabbed it and she said it was clean, but because I was taking a coach holiday to Holland, the nurse gave me some antibiotics as a precaution. My wife said to me that I should inform the insurance company, who then charged me an extra £60 and told me it would stay on my policy for the next twelve months.”


Respondents were also asked if they found getting travel insurance difficult.

38% said yes because of health conditions and the high premiums due to age.

Frustratingly this is the point in life where older travellers have the time and money to travel where they want.

I know there are some excellent policies available for travellers aged 65 and over and I can’t stress enough the importance of shopping around and understanding the market place.

It may well be that the older generation aren’t as internet savy and don’t know where to find these great deals. Read my reviews you will find several companies like All Clear Travel who fit the bill.

Travel Insurance can save your life!

“Dan Kundin was an independent guy, even at age 89. So, when he decided to go on a round-the-world cruise, his daughters, Liz and Susan, didn’t see a big problem as long as he had travel insurance. No one really fretted about what could go wrong.”

Until it did. click here to read more

source: Susan Kraus Travel Writer The Huffington Post

Susan Kraus provides some real life examples of why it is so important not to travel on holiday or business etc without the protection of travel insurance. The examples she writes about are based on experiences by American Tourists, but the same applies to visitors from any country, and certainly from the United Kingdom.

Medical bills can be run up extremely quickly, especially in the examples she gives and it is critical you find a good policy with high levels of cover. Click here for an explanation of the different types of travel policies available, then read my reviews on those policies.