Monday, 11 August 2008

Taking My Own Insurance Advice


Even worse than the Admiral Insurance logo - the Columbus Direct Dog

After writing my last post about insurance company inertia - the fear of changing policy, or at least the time it takes to source new quotes - I realised that I was guilty of not heeding my own advice on one of my policies.

My annual travel cover is due to expire in a few days and I have a trip at the end of this month. The renewal quote is a not unreasonable £45 for a worldwide multi-trip individual policy. However Travelplan Direct, the provider, annoyed me considerably the year before last when I came to claim - remember you only discover whether your insurer is any good when you make a claim.

A couple of Christmases ago British Airways grounded all flights for several days due to a prolonged spell of fog at London's Heathrow. The chaos was nationwide headline news. My flight to Scotland was repeatedly cancelled but when I claimed £100 for delayed departure the insurer said the policy wording was mistyped. Not my problem I replied - the printed policy is a binding contract. This didn't satisfy them, they wanted a letter of proof from British Airways - even though all they had to do was read a newspaper or watch the news to see the grounded planes. Eventually they coughed up - with the additional £10 due under their customer charter which I insisted on because they had incorrectly denied my claim
.

I promised not to renew the policy with them, but last year it slipped through again on an automatic renewal. So after completing my last blog posting I decided to have a look for a new quote. Moneysavingexpert.com is always a good first call. In fact my current insurer was one of the best picks. But the site also links to moneysupermarket.com where I found a special on a Columbus Direct policy for £29. Comparing the 2 policies line by line they were almost identical - with Columbus providing more cover for baggage. As I'm flying from the notoriously careless Terminal 5 luggage cover is important to me.

This morning I called TravelPlan Direct to ask if they could improve their quote. They couldn't, so as they are 50% more expensive than Columbus Direct they lost my business. The only thing I don't like about the new policy is that logo. Quite why insurers are so keen on the guard dog idea I can't imagine. Cynically you might guess it's because insurer's dogs are friendly - until they bite you. Let's hope Columbus Direct's dog's bark is worse than its bite.

Comparing available travel insurance policies saved me 50% of the premium - OK only £15 but it only took 15 minutes, which is equivalent to an hourly labour rate of £60 or £480 a day. So worth comparing quotes - unless your income is £480 a day.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am trying to get Columbus to pay out on a flight delay of 24 hours with Thomas Cook, claim rejected because the word Operational delay is not covered under section 5 of policy. They use a claims settlement agency ie loss adjusters for all claims more chance of winning the lottery than getting money out of this lot avoid at all cost !!!!!

The Chief Executive said...

I'm sorry to hear about the difficulty you're having with Columbus. Insurance Policy small print terms and conditions have a nasty habit of ruling out claims which you might reasonably expect to be covered. However if you believe Columbus or their loss adjuster has incorrectly applied their T&C you can complain to the Insurance Ombudsman. The sale of insurance is heavily regulated and consumers are well protected. First write to Columbus Head Office and make your complaint in writing, pointing out that your travel was delayed and you should reasonbly expect this delay to be covered under the policy. If they reject your complaint forward your correspondence to the Ombudsman www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints. Mention that you intend to do this. Insurers don't want unhappy customers posting their experiences all over the web, and highlighting their grievances to the Regulator.