Sophia and her family had a trip booked to Fiji in September 2023. When Sophia booked her family’s flights to Fiji, she took out a ticket and baggage protection insurance policy offered by the airline and underwritten by the insurer (the policy). The policy was designed to cover costs relating to rebooking or rescheduling flights cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. The policy also provided cover for checked bags that were lost, stolen, or damaged.
Sophia and her family were due to fly to Fiji on 4 September 2023. On 2 September 2023, Sophia’s father suffered an unforeseen medical event. Sophia’s father was admitted to hospital and was not able to travel on 4 September 2023. Sophia and her family decided to cancel their trip.
Sophia and her family had booked five nights accommodation in a hotel and paid a deposit to secure their rooms. Sophia made a claim under the policy for the cost of her family’s flights and their accommodation deposit. Before Sophia’s insurance claim was processed, the airline refunded Sophia and her family for their flights.
The insurer declined Sophia’s claim. The insurer told Sophia that her policy claim was not valid because the airline had given Sophia and her family a full refund for their flights. The insurer also said that the policy was not designed to cover Sophia and her family’s accommodation deposit.
Sophia was unhappy with the insurer’s decision and complained to FSCL.
Sophia accepted that the policy would not cover the cost of her family’s plane tickets, because they had already received a refund from the airline. However, Sophia did not understand why the insurer had declined her claim for prebooked accommodation. Sophia thought her claim should be covered by a section in the policy that covered additional accommodation costs.
The insurer said that they were entitled to decline Sophia’s claim because there was no cover under the policy for prebooked accommodation. The insurer said that the additional accommodation costs section was designed to cover accommodation costs incurred during a trip, rather than accommodation costs incurred before a trip began.
We agreed that the insurer was entitled to decline Sophia’s claim for her family’s accommodation deposit. The ticket and baggage protection policy was not designed to cover and did not cover prebooked accommodation costs.
However, the insurer had not explained their decision to decline Sophia’s claim clearly.
We spoke to Sophia to explain the insurer’s reasoning for declining her claim. We explained that the ticket and baggage protection policy was not designed to cover prebooked accommodation costs. We told Sophia that she would have had to take out a different insurance policy if she wanted her family’s prebooked accommodation costs to be covered. We also explained that the accommodation costs section in the policy had not been triggered, because the accommodation costs that Sophia was claiming were not incurred in the course of travel.
Insights for consumers
You should take care to ensure that your insurance policies are fit for purpose. It is important to read the policy wording to be aware of what is and is not covered under the policy. If you are unsure of what is covered, it is best to ask further questions before taking out the policy.