Exclusive: Holidaymakers Face No-Deal Brexit Uncertainty As Travel Insurers Fail To Guarantee Payouts

Just two of the companies could confirm insurance would be paid out as normal.

Holidaymakers are facing uncertainty after several leading travel insurance firms were unable to guarantee cover in the event of disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit.

After the government told travellers to check directly with their insurance companies about cover in the event of no-deal, the Liberal Democrats contacted seven of the UK’s largest firms posing as a mystery shopper.

Just two of the companies could confirm insurance would be paid out as normal. Another two said travellers would not be covered at all, and the remaining three were unsure about what would happen.

The findings will worry Britons whose thoughts are beginning to turn to spring holidays after the March 29 Brexit date, despite the Association of British Insurers (ABI) attempting to reassure them earlier this month that insurance will largely continue as normal.

It comes as a cross-party group of MPs led by Labour’s Yvette Cooper attempts on Tuesday to get support for a plan to stop no-deal by delaying Brexit beyond March 29.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said: “Just when people are booking their holidays, the Conservatives’ shambolic handling of the Brexit process could turn their trips into a nightmare.

“It is a nonsense that the Tory Government appeals to people to contact their insurance companies yet they themselves have been left largely ill-informed and unable to address any uncertainties.”

In a sign of potential disruption, Brittany Ferries last week changed the bookings of around 10,000 passengers to free up capacity to transport critical supplies across the Channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The ferry company has been awarded a £46.6m contract to bring in supplies and ease potential congestion at Dover if the UK leaves the EU without a deal covering trade and customs.

The Home Office meanwhile has warned in a document leaked to Sky News that Britons travelling abroad may face questioning at passport checkpoints, and that passengers on commercial flights and Eurostar trains could face delays.

A leaked Home Office document warns of potential disruption to flights in the event of no-deal
A leaked Home Office document warns of potential disruption to flights in the event of no-deal

The ABI on January 17 issued guidance stating that “travellers are being reassured that travel insurance will continue to work in the normal way”, particularly in relation to medical insurance.

An ABI spokesperson told HuffPost UK that avoiding a no-deal Brexit is a “top priority” for insurers.

“We have been working flat out to help identify problem areas and provide practical advice for customers.

“In the event of travel disruption caused by Brexit, primary responsibility for offering travellers alternative transport or refunds rests with the airlines and travel companies who have taken customers’ money.”

The organisation emphasised that the “primary role” of travel insurance is to provide emergency medical care for people overseas, and said “this would continue”.

It said holidaymakers may be able to make insurance claims for losses unrecoverable elsewhere, “such as for unused accommodation or excursions”, but said people to “will need to have purchased travel disruption cover for this purpose and should check the terms and conditions or speak to their insurer if anything is unclear”

Lib Dem MP Brake said: “It is time the prime minister saw sense and ruled out a chaotic no deal scenario.

“Better still, Liberal Democrats want to give people an opportunity to exit from Brexit with a final say on the deal and the option to remain in the EU.”

What the insurance companies said

The Lib Dem mystery shopper called seven firms with the question: “I’m thinking of taking out travel insurance for my holiday in the summer. Could you let me know if you will cover me for disruption to my holiday as a result of a no-deal Brexit?”

Here is what they said:

AXA (yes): “Yes, we will cover for any disruption to travel if it’s a result of delay in departure, if it’s a result of any hold up on the road or anything like that accident or breakdown, any strikes or industrial action they’re all covered, if you’re delayed due to public transport failure then absolutely that’s covered. There isn’t anything particular that says it’s going to be covered as a result or anything with Brexit because we wouldn’t imagine that would have an impact on your travel - it may be delays and things like that but they would be covered under the usual terms of your policy”

Allianz (don’t know): “At the moment we do not know what we will cover because we haven’t heard any word from the underwriter to say that so at the moment some of that is in the air.

“If I were you I would assume at this very point in time there is no cover - well because we haven’t heard anything from the underwriter about that, no one can really give you a specific answer but yes you will be covered or not....We do not know if there will be disruption… because that hasn’t happened we do not know and there has been no word from any of the underwriter… Probably buy your policy around that time… the thing is I cannot advise you on what to do to be honest, I really can’t”

Zurich (don’t know): ““It’s not something that we’ve been made aware of I’m afraid, we haven’t had any information about it yet... we’re not sure at the moment, I’m afraid… Give us a call nearer the time we should hopefully have some more information”

Aviva (yes): “All our policies wouldn’t be affected by that because it’s separate to like an EHIC (European Health Insurance) card which is a separate thing but our travel policies nothing would change to the normal cover you’d have, so whatever you’re covered for normally would still apply etc. etc... it’s best sometimes if you do book ATOL protected holidays just to cover yourself a bit further obviously through our policy you’d still be covered for the same things you would if a Brexit deal was arranged or nothing happened or it’s delayed however long etc etc.. it’ll all be the same with no changes”

Legal & General (no): “We don’t know anything about that at the moment, unfortunately, the best people to ask are the claims department... if you like I can pass you through to them to see if they have any answers about it at the moment”

The mystery shopper was passed through to claims department.

The operator said: “So it’s Legal & General, we’re not Legal and General we’re Allianz… we sell insurance through lots of different companies...so if you’re thinking about buying it through Legal & General, no the insurance wouldn’t cover that situation I’m afraid… I’ve never come across one that would cover that.”

More Than (don’t know): “Let me get you through to the right team who can help you with that…”

The mystery shopper was passed through to the Allianz-Assistance claims line which the operator said could answer my query:

A: “Erm, just bear with me and I’ll check... if there’s a no deal Brexit the EHIC card would cease if there’s no agreement by March 29. If there is any agreement then the EHIC card will be valid for another year. That’s the only information I have.”

Direct Line (don’t know): “I couldn’t answer that question; we honestly wouldn’t know that... I honestly wouldn’t know”


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