When travel insurance really goes the extra mile…

1 February 2016

Travel Insurance

When you’re considering which travel insurer to take a policy with, for your long-awaited year of backpacking around the world, what should be your key concern? Price is obviously a prime factor, as you don’t want to have to dip too deeply into your precious travel-money pot, when your hard-saved money could be spent on much more exciting things! Another thing that should concern you, is obviously how good the policy benefits are, and whether you will be covered for everything you plan to do whilst away from the UK.

Another one, must surely be – how well does your travel insurer step up to the plate when the worst does actually happen, and you ring their emergency assistance line for advice and practical help?

This sort of information is harder to lay your hands on than a simple price comparison, and relates to things which can’t easily be quantified or compared…How well supported did you feel? Was the response efficient and helpful? Did you receive the practical and financial help that you needed at that time?

You can look at the independent reviews that are gathered by sites such as Feefo , but these are often reflecting the experiences of customers who have just bought a policy, and may not necessarily relate to people who have already travelled and experienced a claims situation – and how it was dealt with.

It’s more common for disgruntled customers to air their grievances, than those that are happy with a service, to award a pat on the back. Like all insurers, we do receive complaints about our policies – usually because customers weren’t covered for something that they thought they were. This can be in relation to cover for a sport or adventurous activity, travelling to an area outside of their chosen region of cover, or cover for a personal possession. For example, we’ve had complaints from policy holders who have had their mobile phone stolen, or they have lost it, and then been annoyed when they tried to submit a claim. We are able to offer cover for mobile phones – but only as an optional extra – so if this hasn’t been selected, this wont be covered. Take a look at the details of our gadget cover here.

We try to make this very clear, as it is specified in  our policy wordings  and we highlight this in a follow-up email that we send to all customers after they buy a policy. If we speak to customers on the phone, we do our best to clarify what they are covered for, and answer any questions that they have. We do our best to make sure that customer’s policies are valid and that customers are covered for their individual plans.

The customers who slip through the net in fully understanding what they are covered for, can feel aggrieved if their claim doesn’t pay out, which is understandable. We’re delighted, however, that many customers do benefit from the cover and round-the-clock Emergency Assistance that we provide. We wouldn’t wish any kind of problem to befall people as they are heading off for the time of their lives, but we are proud that we’ve been able to provide a timely safety-net just when travellers really need it.

We recently received some great feedback via Twitter, regarding how well our Emergency Assistance team helped a policy holder who was viciously attacked in Australia. His grateful Mum let us know how pleased she was with the care and support he received, as it was obviously a very worrying time for her, her son and all of his loved ones.

Sally’s son’s hours of need came whilst he was on the other side of the world in Australia, and suffered a horrific criminal attack:

My son and his girlfriend had been enjoying a night out at a bar in Port Douglas with some friends they had met in New Zealand. They left the bar about midnight when they were suddenly aware of three guys behind them. Suddenly, one of them went to grab my son’s girlfriend’s bag. My son saw this happening and pushed her to the floor to protect her and their stuff. Luckily they didn’t get anything, but my son paid a huge price, and literally got his face smashed to bits.

Two broken cheek bones, two broken orbital sockets and a broken nose. I know it could have been so much worse but to be honest, that thought didn’t make me feel better in the hours after the attack. Sadly, I know this could have happened anywhere in the world – it’s just very hard when your loved one is so many miles away. You hear so many bad reports about Insurance Companies, especially on these holiday programmes, but I have to say the insurance company have been truly wonderful.

Help immediately started after I contacted them and I was lucky they were happy to deal with me throughout the whole ordeal and I can’t thank them enough. They are planning to resume their trip after this horrible experience and hopefully the scars,  both internally and externally, will heal over time.”

We obviously wish that Sally’s son had not suffered this awful ordeal, at all, but we’re delighted to hear that our Emergency Assistance team were an invaluable source of help in response to Lewis’s plight.

The insurance company they used was called Go Walkabout and their emergency assist section are literally life savers. Natalie, the lady who looked after us, couldn’t have been more efficient, kind, caring and concerned, which is what you want when dealing with a situation like this.

I guess the lessons here is always take out good insurance, you never know when the unexpected is going to happen and sadly,  for some,  it does!”

Our dedicated Emergency Assistance team are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to deal with people who require unforeseen medical treatment away from the UK. They can suggest suitable places to seek treatment, liaise directly with medical facilities to get your medical bills paid, and offer support and advice about the best course of action to take.  They are obviously immensely useful to policy holders themselves, but this illustrates the important role they also play for loved ones who are still in the UK, and are obviously very concerned about their son or daughter’s welfare, when something as traumatic as this, has taken place. A key piece of advice that Sally is keen to pass on is that it’s a very sensible idea for loved-ones in the UK to have access to the policy documents of the person who is away travelling, as this helped speed things up, and make the process of dealing with the Emergency Assistance Team, that much easier.

Read all of Sally’s blog article on ‘Bude & Beyond’ in its entirety,  where she talks in more detail about her son’s trip and the ordeal he suffered, here.

Sally is not alone in her unprompted praise for our invaluable Emergency Assistance team, who are ready, willing and able to offer their support, advice and practical help to any policy holder who suffers a serious or ongoing medical problem whilst away.

Another of our customers was badly injured whilst away on a solo trip in China, and eventually needed to be repatriated back to the UK due to the extent of his injuries. He was also extremely grateful for the practical and emotional support provided by the Emergency Assistance team:

“I was facing a difficult and extremely serious situation and they did everything in their power to help me. They are absolutely wonderful, caring people and I would like to express my thanks and gratitude.

I honestly am exceptionally impressed by the company – you were fantastic. I was so scared and frightened, but the minute I spoke to your team. I felt so much better, it was as if so someone else was taking my problem and dealing with it for me. After it was decided I was to fly home, I was flown home within 24 hours. I must admit when I bought the insurance, I wasn’t sure what kind of service I could expect, as it was a relatively ‘budget’ choice. But the help I received was unparalleled, and I have already been and will continue to recommend your insurance to anyone who goes travelling. I am so very, very grateful and I just don’t know how to express this.”

Our competitive prices, easy to use website and comprehensive policy benefits are usually the reasons people choose to buy one of our policies, and why we attract lots of repeat customers. But it’s the response of our Emergency Assistance team when the chips are really down, that is the acid test of any of our policies – and which we’re delighted to say – have made a real difference to these customers that we’ve highlighted this time.

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