Your travel insurance could be void because of FCO advice

Travel insurers have come under scrutiny recently regarding their openness about exclusions to travel policies, as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has put out a warning against travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Unfortunately, travel insurance often limits protection to areas that the FCO deems unsafe or advises against travel, and in the case of the current Ebola crisis, the FCO has said that travel to certain countries should be limited unless it is absolutely essential.

By not making it clear that policies will be affected by travelling to countries that the FCO has warned against for “all travel” or “all but essential travel”, insurers could fall foul of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The Post Online carried out some investigations, and found that a travel policy taken out for a 34 year old male travelling for two weeks to Sierra Leone, which the FCO has advised against travel to, cost £22.50. However, 4 out of 5 insurers did not flag up the fact that the FCO advised against travelling there, or that the policy would be impacted by this fact.

It was only revealed in the small print of the documents; the small print that can go on for pages and that barely anyone ever reads. One example reported was for Axa, which said only on the second page of small print that the insurer will not pay for claims arising from travelling against FCO advice to avoid “all travel” or “all but essential travel”.

The insurers that did not flag up this issue could be accused of misleading their customers.

Arguing this however is the fact that most people will book a holiday before acquiring insurance, so the responsibility is on the customer to be aware of FCO guidelines. Furthermore, the FCO only issue this kind of advice if there is a good reason for it, and the advice should be followed.

If you are however going to travel to a high risk region, ensure that you get travel insurance that fully protects you, and make sure to check the small print.

Related Articles