Those who have opted to arrange their holiday on their own this summer might have left themselves exposed even if they have taken out travel insurance, insurance company Axa warns.
As the summer holiday season approaches, millions of Britons are preparing to travel abroad, and thanks to widespread internet access and low-cost airlines booking independent holidays has become considerably easier in recent years – and often cheaper. Therefore, the number of independent travellers, which amounted to 16 million in 2006, has now overtaken the number of package holiday travellers.
However, many independent travellers are completely unaware that there may be gaps in their travel insurance
cover if they book the trips themselves.
With a package holiday, providers are legally obliged to make suitable arrangements for eventualities like cancelled or delayed flights or missed connections, but independent holidaymakers have to make provisions themselves, and pay extra for them.
Axa's new travel insurance for independent travellers addresses this issue by offering an optional top-up of their annual policies for £10, which covers a number of areas such as missed connections, abandonment of trip, denied boarding, missed or cancelled flights and cost of alternative accommodation.
"We are aware from our own claims area that independent travellers have run into problems with their travel insurance," Edward Dutton, Axa's director of personal insurance, confirmed.
"A recent report from Defaqto underlined the need for insurers to offer cover that helps customers when things go wrong - the things that would normally be picked up by a tour operator or travel agent if it were a package holiday."
Mr Dutton called on other insurers to take action on this issue: "We believe that the rise of the independent traveller is something that all insurers should be addressing – as the Ombudsman pointed out in his latest report ‘There is clearly a mismatch in what insurers intend to offer and the cover that consumers believe they are buying.'"
Addressing the issue of travel insurance is all the more crucial as, despite the economic gloom and rising cost of living, consumers still seem willing to splash out for their holidays, a recent survey by the CBI revealed.
CBI's chief economic advisor Ian McCafferty confirmed that: "Travel companies reported healthy demand for holidays in the past three months, with people more inclined to take a well-earned break as rising costs put greater demands on household spending,".