He had a heart attack and was stranded in France, but we had to prove his medical history before we claim on the travel insurance
Sally Hunt parents were on a Ryanair flight to Barcelona when her father had a heart attack in September 2015. Then he was offered life support and the pilot took an emergency by landing in Toulouse. Her father was taken to hospital where he was placed in a coma. Both Ryanair staff and the local paramedics and hospital supported to save him, but it was beyond what was expected.
The following day Sally travelled to Toulouse with her husband and brother, and her sister also came from Spain. On the way to the hospital her husband contacted the emergency helpline of her parents’ travel insurer, it is InsureforAll to notify it of the situation. And it advised that before it could cover any costs/expenses/claims it would need a medical report from her father’s GP, and that they would also have to complete the necessary paperwork.
Unfortunately, her father passed away six days later and they had to make arrangements for his repatriation to the UK. During this time she found that the insurance company obstructive, rude and unhelpful. It even maintained it was not responsible for the claim until they could prove that the heart attack was not linked to any underlying condition her father had. So they had to find a printer and scanner in Toulouse to do this. They felt it was a difficult process to them.
Her father’s body was left in the hospital morgue and they were in limbo as, at that stage, the insurer was unwilling to fund the repatriation. It even suggested “it just pays for it and claims it back”.
After five days it eventually agreed that the heart attack was not the result of an underlying condition and that it would arrange the repatriation.
After the funeral Sally submitted a formal complaint to InsureforAll in respect of how her case had been handled, together with a claim for her expenses as covered by the policy.
But the company did not give any respond. When it eventually did get in contact it dismissed the complaint saying that the requirement to have a GP report is standard. She also asked it to advise where in the policy documentation it sets out this process, but it has not. They are in a fortunate position that they could afford to cover the immediate costs of the accommodation, etc.
The company appears to be adding conditions and requirements to the process that are not documented in our policy. She understand they need to check the insured person’s medical history, but to leave a family in limbo in a foreign country like this it is unacceptable.
InsureforAll specialises in offering travel cover for the over-50s and for those with pre-existing medical conditions, on this basis, almost people think it would be well used to dealing with this type of emergency. On its website it says: “Our aim is to give you peace of mind when you travel.”
However, Sally and her family report a chaotic claims system and a lack of a sympathetic response at a very difficult time. The way it made her jump through multiple hoops to get her father’s medical records before it would confirm cover was insensitive, to say the least.
Through the details we are inclined to agree, but suspect maybe anyone would also have received a similar experience from many other online travel insurers via travellers’ business. But the fact that the firm ignored her complaint and claim. This insurer was happy to take the premium, but it is less interested in helping you.
A spokeswoman for InsureforAll admitted that mistakes had been made, but it said procedural changes introduced since last September should prevent other families having to go through this again. She said all insurers will need to see evidence that the claim was not the result of a previous condition. It has now offered to cover the cost of two family members travelling to Toulouse, rather than the one allowed in the policy.
It has also offered her a £1,600 payout, considerably less than what she have claimed, but more than it says it has to pay. If it agrees to apologise, and it still hasn’t, we’d be inclined to take the money and try to move on.
Meanwhile, this case suggests it may well be worth leaving someone back in the UK to deal with any claim, to liaise with doctors etc, rather than all rushing to the hospital bed. Which, of course, is easier to write than enact for the next case.