Monday, 24 May 2010 12:00 AM
All the travel agents visited by undercover Which? researchers were uncompetitive on price. One travel agent quoted as much as Â£80.99 for insurance on a two-week trip to Spain for two – a
Which? Best Buy policy would have cost as little as Â£20.
Cost wasn’t the only factor to raise alarm bells with the experts at Which?; 17 of the 29 travel agents visited failed to provide even the most basic details about the insurance policies they sold. Independent travel agencies performed better overall, with nine out of 14 meeting the benchmark set by Which? Just three of the 15 chain branches of travel agents met the same criteria.
Few of the 29 travel agents checked that the cover available under a policy would be sufficient for the customer, other than to cover the cost of the holiday itself in the case of ill health-health prior to leaving. Six of the travel agents failed to enquire about pre-existing medical conditions at all, while not one explained the significance of failing to declare pre-existing medical conditions.
Less than half of the travel agents gave researchers a copy of the insurance policy to take home, and only six mentioned the 14-day ‘cooling off period’, within which the customer could cancel the policy and get a refund.
Rochelle Turner, head of research for Which? Holiday, commented: “Not surprisingly, you expect travel agents to be experts in all aspects of booking a holiday, but our research shows that’s not always the case when it comes to insurance.
“The recent disruption to flights has demonstrated just how important it is to have adequate cover. If travel agents want to sell insurance, they must train their staff properly so customers can feel confident they’ve bought the right policy. Otherwise, they should stop selling it altogether and leave it to the experts.”
Which? believes travel agents should, as a minimum, explain what the policy covers and what it excludes; provide customers with a copy of the policy itself; ask whether anyone covered by the policy has any pre-existing medical conditions as these are often excluded from the cover; and make sure the policy is suitable – for example, some have an upper age limit.
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