When getting ready for a holiday abroad, most people are aware of the need to take out travel insurance to cover in the event that something goes wrong. These insurance policies will cover for cancellation of holidays, lost luggage and medical bills, amongst other things.
Unfortunately, the terms of travel insurance policies are not always what they seem and many people are now being left without cover, even when they have taken out a valid policy prior to departing on their travels. At the time of taking out the policy, caveats to policies are often not made clear.
For example, it has recently been reported that consuming alcohol while on holiday could invalidate an insurance policy if an accident occurs. Many insurance policies contain a clause which allows insurers to refuse to pay out if an accident involves too much alcohol. The burden is on the insurer to show that too much alcohol was the cause of the accident and subsequent injury. Insurers are now using this as an excuse to refuse to pay out on valid claims.
Many cases have been reported to the financial ombudsman where insurers have failed to pay out. In the final three months of 2017, almost 900 travel insurance complaints were made. Recent examples have highlighted that alcohol consumption does not always invalidate a policy, but that will not stop an insurer from trying to get out of paying!
It is not just alcohol consumption that can invalidate a travel insurance policy. It is not always apparent at the time of taking out the cover but insurance policies can also exclude certain activities from policy cover. For example, buried deep in the small print, will be a list of activities for which the policy holder is not covered including fairly common holiday activities such as water sports. If the policy holder is then to be involved in an accident while on holiday doing one of these activities, they will not be covered.
At the time of making an application for travel insurance, holidaymakers are asked to declare any previous medical conditions. If the policy holder fails to declare a pre-existing condition, this can result in a policy becoming invalid. The press have recently reported the case of a grandmother who has been left stranded in Florida after insurers refused to meet her medical bills after she was struck down with a bout of flu. Her medical bills are in excess of £100,000 and her family have resorted to crowdfunding to try and get her home. Her insurers have refused to pay out on the basis she suffers from pre-existing lung conditions however her family have insisted all ailments were disclosed at the time of taking out the cover. The unfortunate plight of this holidaymaker highlights the difficult position people can be left in when their insurance provider refuses to provide indemnity.
Travellers need to be aware of the potential issues they may encounter in the unfortunate event they are required to make a claim on their insurance policy.
If you are involved in an accident abroad, and want to discuss pursuing a claim for compensation, Talk to Thompsons on 0800 0891 331.
Blog by Eilish Lindsay, Glasgow Accident Lawyer