The last year saw major catastrophes, occurring in the travelling industry. Several airlines closed down, tens of thousands of travellers were left stranded overseas as a result, and travel agents were found to be using “misleading sales tactics” to sell holiday goers with their travel policies.
As of January 2009, travel agents will need to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or become Introducers or Representatives of an FSA-regulated company in order to sell travel insurance.
The travel insurance provider, Sainsbury’s has welcomed the change in the law, and also warned that several people are still at present falling victim to underhand and misleading sales tactics used by some unscrupulous travel agents to ensure that their policies are purchased. This has resulted in thousands of people wrongly being sold travel insurance by travel agents every year.
The insurance provider also revealed that five per cent of travellers, who claim to have bought insurance from travel agents in the past 12 months, – as many as 407,000 people – were wrongly told that they could not book their holiday, unless they also took out the cover being offered by their agents at the time.
Sam Marrs, Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance Manager said: “This is an alarming finding, but it will be much more difficult for rogue travel agents to do this once they are regulated by the FSA. Our research shows that up to as many as 8.14 million people could have bought insurance from travel agents over the past 12 months and the new regulation will provide consumers with valuable much needed protection.”
Moreover Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance’s research also reveals that travel insurance policies sold through travel agents could potentially leave thousands of people with inadequate cover. Some 16 per cent of those who have purchased travel cover from travel agents this year claim they were not asked about any pre-existing medical conditions, slightly down from 17 per cent last year. However the problem of travel agents failing to outline what insurance does and does not cover has become worse, affecting 17 per cent of customers purchasing cover from travel agents in the past 12 months, up from 13 per cent last year”.
Rescue plan from Saga
In the light of all the disruption and distress that failed airlines cause to travellers, the travel insurance provider, Saga Insurance, which specialises in insurance policies for older people; has introduced a new policy that provides cover in the event of an airline failure.
A large and increasing number of older people travel independently. Saga Travel Insurance has stated that it has protected around 2 million holidays, since its inception and the breadth of cover has developed over the years in response to holiday trends and customer feedback. It was following such feedback from our intrepid over 50s customers that Saga Travel Insurance has introduced extra protection covering scheduled airline failure.
In the event of the scheduled airline that the traveller is flying with goes into administration, the new cover provides up to £1,500 for each insured person, for the costs of flights paid in advance, or the cost of return flights to the UK.
This cover comes into effect for new Single Trip and Annual policies purchased from the 2nd January 2009, and on Annual Travel renewals from the 25th January 2009.
Paul Green, the Head of Communications at Saga Group said: “In today’s uncertain economic climate the savvy independent traveller needs to check if their insurance covers airline failure if they want to travel with confidence in 2009.”