Types of complaints we see
Customers complain to us that they’re out of pocket because they:
- had a fight which was cancelled and isn’t covered by their policy
- missed their connecting flight which their insurer says isn’t covered
- paid for food or accommodation costs which aren’t covered by their policy
- arranged another flight which the insurance company won’t cover
- abandoned their holiday before the end of the 24-hour period which the insurance company won’t cover
- lost holiday time that isn’t covered by their policy
What we look at
We’ll check the policy wording to make sure the cause of the delay is a covered reason. The customer needs to provide evidence of the cause and length of the delay.
We’d usually expect a customer to make a reasonable effort to get some sort of written confirmation from the airline to support their claim. If they can’t, we might accept news reports of cancelled and delayed flights as evidence in support of a customer’s claim.
You might say a claim isn’t covered because a flight was cancelled and not delayed. Our view is that the impact on the customer is the same whether the flight was delayed or cancelled.
Airlines have their own responsibilities to passengers where a flight has been delayed or cancelled.
Often an airline will arrange a replacement flight within 24 hours. We’ll look at what the airline offered and the reasons why your customer abandoned their trip if that’s what happened.
Your customer’s policy may say that only the first leg of the outbound journey leaving the UK or the first leg of the return journey is covered. This means customers with multi-leg trips or connecting flights won’t be able to claim for problems with the other parts of their journey.
If your policy has this restriction, it should have been highlighted to your customer. If you haven’t clearly highlighted this restriction, we might not think it’s fair for you to rely on the exclusion.
Travel delay is usually a fixed benefit – so you’ll pay out a fixed amount for each hour of delay over a certain period of time. Sometimes customers complain that their fixed benefit payment has been reduced because of compensation they’ve had from an airline.
If an airline has paid a customer for their costs, or compensation under the cancelled flights directive we don’t think it’s fair for you to reduce any fixed benefit payment under their travel insurance policy.
Your customer made alternative arrangements to travel
We see complaints from customers who make their own arrangements to travel and are then told they’ve lost their fixed benefit.
We’d look at how long your customer would have waited if they hadn’t made their own way. Your customer may have reduced your financial exposure by taking action to prevent further costs in travelling sooner rather than later. So we’d usually think it’s fair that you pay them:
- the travel delay amount they would’ve received if they’d waited the full time
- their extra travel costs up to the value of what an abandonment claim would’ve been
Your customer abandoned their trip before the set delay period has passed
If your customer finds out there are no flights for a few days they might decide to abandon their trip and go home. We see complaints from customers who say they’ve had their abandonment claim turned because they didn’t experience a 24-hour delay.
We’ll look at the circumstances of each case. If we’re satisfied that there was no other way for your customer to continue the holiday for at least 24 hours, then it makes no difference that the trip was abandoned early. We’ll think it’s fair to ask you to pay the claim.
Lost time on holiday
Sometimes a customer could have made an abandonment claim – but instead waited for the flight. By doing this, they’ve lost a day or more of their holiday.
By choosing to go on a shorter trip, the customer has reduced your loss – if they’d not done this you would’ve been responsible for paying for the full cost of the abandoned holiday.
We might think it’s fair for you to consider covering any unused or additional costs up to the value of any abandonment claim. For example, if the customer has lost a night in a hotel we might say you should cover that loss.
Putting things right
We’d consider your obligations under the Insurance Conduct of Business Sourcebook (ICOBS) when looking at how to put things right.
If we feel you’ve turned down a customer’s claim unfairly, we’d usually try to put the customer back in the financial position they would’ve been in if you hadn’t turned down the claim.
Find out more about how we put things right for customers who’ve made a complaint about their travel insurance claim.
A customer has money deducted from his fixed benefit because he’s already had compensation from his airline
A customer buys a new flight to avoid a 12-hour delay but is told that his policy doesn't cover the cost of the new flight
Information about complaints affected by Covid-19 (coronavirus)
We've put together some information and resources to help explain what to do if you are receiving questions or complaints about a financial product or service that has been caused, impacted or affected by Covid-19.