Buying travel insurance from a travel agent

One in two travel medical insurance policies are sold by travel agents. While some are sold with holidays as a package, many are not. Most travel agents earn substantial commission sums from their travel insurance. A small number of the larger groups own their own insurance company. Most have to place cover in the insurance market, often through brokers. The person who sells you the trip and the insurance will not be involved in any claims. These are handled by specialist claims agencies. This means that travel agents rarely see or hear of the consequences of selling the wrong insurance or failing to take all the right steps.

The policies offered by travel agents are not always good value. Resist the hard sell from your travel agent or tour operator - prices can be up to 75% more expensive. Holiday operators sometimes insist that customers must take out their own insurance. You cannot refuse if it is a condition of taking the holiday. However, the travel agent or operator cannot make every holiday offer conditional upon buying travel insurance. You cannot be charged extra if you want to buy it elsewhere.

Buying cover from your travel agent is the easiest way to get travel insurance but probably not the best. Some travel companies offer 'free' cover but it's unlikely that the insurance really is free, as the cost is generally built into the price of the holiday.

Commission on selling insurance is a huge earner for travel agents. You can usually get a better deal elsewhere. Travel agents cannot advertise big discounts on holiday prices and then say they are only available to people who take out their 'own label' travel cover. Some travel agents may try to say the insurance you do have is not good enough in a bid to persuade you to pay for their own cover. Resist their pressure and stick to your existing policy - or go to a different agent.



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