Andrea Caldwell’s travel insurance claim was rejected, even though she cancelled the holiday when the policy was active
We had a family holiday booked last March to Disneyland in Florida and my father had paid for the whole trip for my brother and me and both of our families.
Before the holiday I only had European travel insurance and therefore I contacted the insurer Insure and Go to buy a worldwide policy.
As we were due to leave on the Tuesday, I bought and paid for the policy on the Sunday and arranged for it to begin on the Monday night at midnight.
However earlier on the Monday evening my father was taken ill, was told he could not travel and was later diagnosed with a brain tumour. Therefore we all decided we could not fly on the Tuesday morning.
Even though I had a worldwide policy, the insurance company rejected my claim because my father was admitted to hospital before the cover started.
He went into hospital around four hours before the policy started but as we only decided on the Tuesday that we weren’t going to fly – we had previously thought my father might be able to join us later – I don’t understand why the claim wasn’t allowed.
The insurer said because my father was taken into hospital before the policy began – even though this was just hours before – I wasn’t able to claim on the policy because this would be classed as something I would already have known about, even though we didn’t know at that point we wouldn’t travel.
I have been to the Financial Ombudsman and had the same response, is there anything I can do now? Andrea Caldwell, via email.
Rebecca Rutt, of This is Money, replies: Travel insurance is designed to cover you should anything go wrong with a trip away.
This includes both things happening on the trip, such as your belongings being damaged or stolen or you falling ill, for example, and anything that might happen beforehand.
When you buy travel insurance, the cover starts from either the moment you buy it, or from the date in which you want it to start.
Anything that happens before that date can’t be covered and therefore it’s advisable to buy it as soon as you book a trip.
In your case you bought and paid for travel insurance on the Sunday, to go away to Florida two days later, but the policy wasn’t due to start until midnight on the Monday.
Your father was then taken ill on the Monday – before the policy was active – and you and your family decided on the Tuesday morning to cancel the holiday.
However, even though the policy was active when you decided to cancel the holiday, the reason for cancelling was something that had happened before the policy was valid and this was the reason your claim was rejected.
Travel insurance is designed to cover you from the moment the policy begins
We contacted Insure and Go and a spokesperson said: ‘The medical certificate shows the GP confirmed Mrs Caldwell needed to cancel the holiday on 28.03.16, the day before the policy began.
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‘Unfortunately as there had been a medical recommendation to cancel the day before, and Mrs Caldwell was aware she would need to cancel the holiday, we were unable to pay Mrs Caldwell’s claim.
‘We encourage customers to have their insurance in place – and active – from the day they booked a trip, that way incidents of this nature are covered. We are really sorry we can’t do any more on this occasion.’
As you have already approached the Ombudsman about this case, and it has come back in favour of the insurer, unfortunately there is little else you can do.
The insurer is playing by the rules here as it won’t cover anything that happened before the policy started.
Your story serves as an important warning to others to show why travel insurance should be arranged as soon as you book a holiday so you are covered from that moment if anything happens.