Travel agents' risky sales practices

British families are risking their health by travelling with inappropriate insurance sold to them by travel agents, fresh research from Direct Line Travel Insurance has found.

Research was carried out for Direct Line by YouGov Plc, who questioned a sample of 1980 British adults.

Direct Line says the results show:

  • A fifth of holidaymakers who are sold insurance by their travel agent will travel with a pre-existing medical condition, without knowing whether they are covered for it.
  • Two thirds of holidaymakers sold insurance by their travel agent will not have had their policy explained to them clearly– and as a result more than one in 10 will be heading off without knowing what they are covered for.
  • Medical conditions are a particular cause for concern, with more than half of holidaymakers not asked about pre-existing medical conditions by travel agents.
  • Around three in four were not quizzed about cancer or heart related conditions, whether they have high blood pressure, and about whether they are awaiting medical investigation or surgery.

There is evidence of misleading and ‘hard-sell’ sales techniques, with one in 20 people who buy insurance from an agent admitting they were pressured by the agent into taking it out. Fourteen per cent of holidaymakers who are sold insurance by a travel agent were not being given time to think by the agent, and more than one in 20 were subjected to jargon. A similar proportion admitted that the agent blinded them with numbers.

Another one in 20 holidaymakers were told that they would not be able to travel without taking out insurance with the travel agent.

Eighty-three per cent of Britons are unaware that travel agents can sell travel insurance without regulation from the FSA, although there is strong support for this to change, with 91 per cent of Britons in favour of introducing regulation.

Chris Price, Business Manager at Direct Line Travel Insurance says: “Every year, the health of millions of British holidaymakers is being put at risk by improperly sold insurance from travel agents. As travel agents are not regulated in the same way as travel insurers, customers do not have the same safeguards. As the findings prove, holidaymakers are being made subject to high-pressure sales techniques and are not being asked important information about their health.  This means that many people are travelling overseas unaware that they are not covered for serious conditions, leaving them in potentially dangerous situations, should the worst happen. Direct Line has been campaigning for some time for regulations to be extended to include bundled travel.” 

Although many travel agents sell travel insurance, they are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

The views above are solely how Direct Line have interpreted and commented on their own survey, others may disagree with them.


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