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Which? slates travel agents

"Stop selling it and leave it to the experts," says Which?

Consumer group Which? says travel agents sell unsuitable travel insurance policies and offer poor value for money. It researchers visited 29 travel agents and were rarely asked the right questions or told the cover on offer.

Which? says one travel agent quoted as much as £80.99 for insurance on a two-week trip to Spain for two, when a Which? Best Buy policy would have cost as little as £20.

Six of the travel agents failed to enquire about pre-existing medical conditions at all, while not one explained the significance of failing to declare pre-existing medical conditions.

Basic policies
17 of the 29 travel agents visited failed to provide the most basic details about the insurance policies they sold.

Independent travel agencies performed better overall, with nine out of 14 meeting the Which? benchmark. Just three of the 15 chain branches of travel agents (Co-Operative Travel, First Choice, Going Places, Thomas Cook and Thompson) met the same criteria.

Few of the 29 travel agents checked that the cover available under a policy would be sufficient for the customer, other than to cover the cost of the holiday itself in the case of ill health-health prior to leaving.

Fewer than half of the travel agents gave researchers a copy of the insurance policy to take home, and only six mentioned the 14-day cooling off period within which the customer could cancel the policy and get a refund.

Stick to the experts
Rochelle Turner, Head of Research for Which? Holiday, said: "Not surprisingly, you expect travel agents to be experts in all aspects of booking a holiday, but our research shows that's not always the case when it comes to insurance.

"The recent disruption to flights has demonstrated just how important it is to have adequate cover. If travel agents want to sell insurance, they must train their staff properly so customers can feel confident they've bought the right policy. Otherwise, they should stop selling it altogether and leave it to the experts."

Article published on www.strategicrisk.co.uk and www.bpib.co.uk May 2010

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