Many add-on travel insurance policies are ‘not fit for purpose’
A recent investigation by Which? Travel has raised questions over whether add-on travel insurance policies are value for money and fit for purpose.
It revealed that holidaymakers who buy add-on travel insurance at the same time as buying flights or holidays online can be paying way above the going rate. In some cases, this can be 18 times too much.
The investigation looked at the most important elements of 30 travel insurance add-ons including cover for cash, delays, medical expenses and baggage.
“Almost half didn’t meet our minimum criteria for comprehensive cover”, the findings unearthed.
Results have shown that Spanish low-cost airline Vueling’s add-on travel insurance provides the worst overall cover.
Although a week’s travel insurance will cost only £11.27 when booking flights with Vueling, customers who are forced to cancel or cut their trip short for any reason won’t receive a penny in compensation.
Neither would they be able to claim if any personal possessions or travel money were lost or stolen, or for personal liability claims.
“In fact, the only thing Vueling’s add-on will cover you for is medical expenses. And with its limit capped at £10,000, this falls woefully short of our recommend minimum of £2m for Europe.
“Break your hip in Spain and the cost of hospital treatment and flights alone could reach £15,000, a situation that would leave Veuling customers with no choice but to cough up at least £5,000 of their own money,” reports Which? Travel.
A spokesperson for the airline did point out that it offered six separate types of insurance for each specific need – including cancellation, missed flights and baggage – however this would amount to almost £10.
“That is unnecessarily time-consuming and expensive,” concluded Which? Travel.
Package holiday provider, TUI, didn’t fare well against Which? Travel’s criteria either.
Looking at what was offered after the holiday was booked and paid for, which many Britons purchasing travel insurance do, the findings revealed that TUI customers will pay more above the going rate for add-on insurance.
When comparing cover for a weeks holiday in Spain, TUI charges £47.15 for a Silver policy versus £12.80 for Premier cover with trusted standalone provider, Holidaysafe.
Despite forking out a substantial amount of money for a TUI policy, customers don’t get much in return, the findings revealed.
“TUI’s package received a dismal policy score of 37 per cent. The excess was excessive at £150, and it offered zero cover for cash and only £750 for lost or damaged baggage – half the £1,500 we recommend as a minimum.”
Looking at some of TUI’s over cover options, it found that in some cases add-on travel insurance can tot up to £274, which is 18 times pricier than Holidaysafe.
TUI’s underwriter, Axa, told Which? Travel that another add-policy is offered to customers when they reach the checkout of their holiday booking, which provides a more comprehensive level of cover.
In addition, Thomas Cook Airlines fell short on cancellation, only providing £500 for cancellations on a basic cover policy.
Neither KLM nor Ryanair’s Standard insurance offers scheduled airline failure, but this could be bought with Ryanair’s Plus policy for an extra £4.
In total, five out of ten European policies offered by popular airlines were not fit for purpose, neither were five out of ten holiday companies.
However, some airlines fared better in Which? Travel’s investigation – with budget airline easyJet coming out on top for airlines.
The £20.72 European cover, underwritten by Zurich, received a policy score of 73 per cent, providing cover up to £10 million for medical expenses and £3,000 for cancellations.
Representing the best value as a holiday company was BA Holidays with its Deluxe Package.
Costing only £21, which received an 89 per cent score from Which? Travel for its £15 million cover for medical expenses, £10,000 for cancellations and £2,000 for baggage and belongings.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Which? Travel editor, Rory Boland, commented: “Add-on policies rarely add any value, however convenient they seem.
“Not only will you often pay through the nose, but you could end up with serious holes in your cover – meaning your quick fix could cause a major headache further down the line.
“Sometimes the add-ons offered aren’t even the best available from that provider.
“Given that it takes less than five minutes to buy a far better standalone policy, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.”
Express.co.uk has contacted Vueling, TUI, Thomas Cook, KLM and Ryanair for a comment.