What is policy excess?
A policy excess is an amount you have to pay towards making a claim. The amount of the excess should be agreed when you take out your policy – it must be clear in the policy documents.
Travel insurance policies usually charge separate excesses for each:
- individual claiming under the policy
- section of the policy being claimed under
So if two people each claim under two different sections of the policy, they’ll usually pay two excesses each.
A policy limit is the maximum amount your policy will pay out under a certain section. There may be sub-limits too – for example, a policy may pay a maximum of £1000 for lost baggage, but also have a sub-limit of £200 for valuables. This means the most the policy will ever pay out for valuables is £200.
Your insurer will usually take any excess into account before applying policy limits.
You may be unhappy about excesses and limits because taking them into account makes the settlement smaller than you’d like – and the settlement you receive won’t cover your total loss. But excesses and limits are part of the contract of insurance, so they’re not unreasonable – as long as they’ve been made clear to you.
Types of complaint we see
We hear from customers who contact us to complain about:
- the amount they’ve been paid for a claim
- the insurer not giving them accurate information about the policy excess and/or the policy limit
How to complain
Talk to your insurer first. They need to have the chance to put things right. They have to give you their final response within eight weeks for most types of complaint.
If you’re unhappy with their response, or if they don’t respond, let us know. We’ll check your complaint is something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate to understand what happened and what went wrong.
Find out more about how to complain.
What we look at
Excesses and limits are part of most policies – what’s important is whether they’ve been clearly explained in your policy. You should have a table of benefits in your policy. This table should set out the excesses and limits of your policy in a format that is clear and easy to understand.
If the information isn't clear
If it isn’t clear from the documents what the applicable excess or limit is, then we’ll usually go with an interpretation of the policy that’s most favourable to you. But this doesn’t mean we’d automatically say your insurer can’t take the excess into account. Most insurance policies carry an excess – although some travel policies might give the option to have no excess.
If you weren't given enough information
If you don’t think you were given enough information about the policy excess or limits when you bought the policy, we’ll investigate. We’ll look at the sales process and policy documents to see how the excess and/or limits were explained. We’d usually expect your insurer to tell you about the excesses and limits that apply to things like:
- medical expenses
Putting things right
If we think you have made a mistake or treated a consumer unfairly, we'll ask you to put things right. Our general approach is that the customer should be put back in the position they would have been in if the problem hadn't happened.
The exact details of how we'll ask you to put things right will depend on the complaint, and how the customer lost out. In some cases, we may also ask you to compensate the customer for any distress or inconvenience they've experienced as a result of the problem.
Our insurer is charging us too much for our baggage claim
Information for financial businesses
If you’re a business looking for information to help you resolve complaints or want to find out more technical information, you can find more detail about complaints about policy excess and limits in the business section of our website.