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Release Travel Insurance (2010)

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The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance advises travellers to carefully check what is on offer when taking out travel insurance

The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance says that many consumers complain to his office about the difficulties they experience with travel insurance. Many consumers, when travelling, rely upon "free travel insurance" which may be given as a benefit for the purchase of an airline ticket or through the cost of a travel package purchased on a credit card. The cover provided by such policies is usually extremely restrictive and limited and may prove to be of little practical benefit to a traveller.

Consumers are advised not to rely upon such products as providing them with adequate cover for travel purposes and to carefully check whether the cover provided by such products meets with their requirements or expectations prior to departure.

Most travel policies work on an "insured perils" basis, meaning that liability will only exist where loss or damage arises from certain specified events or perils and even then, the insurer's liability may be severely restricted both in relation to the cause of the loss and the level of indemnification provided for. A basic travel insurance policy should provide for indemnification in relation to the cost of medical treatment evacuation, lost baggage, death or curtailment of travel arrangements but, again this cover may be severely restricted. Consumers are advised to purchase additional cover wherever possible to provide the maximum protection and indemnification for unexpected expenses.

Particular attention should be given to the cover provided through delay or cancellation of flights, theft of documents or money or emergency evacuation.

"Consumers are encouraged to read through their policy documents prior to departure and to familiarise themselves with the cover given as well as the procedure for the making of a claim in the event of misfortune", says Brian Martin, the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance.

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