Holidays are a time to relax, and many choose to drink alcohol whilst abroad. However, The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has urged tourists to read the small print in their travel insurance, as a substantial number of holidaymakers are finding that their accident claims aren’t covered if they claimant has consumed alcohol.
The warning has come following a number of complaints received last year. Of the 900 complaints it received overall, it was found that some were made after insurers refused these types of claims. The FOS has said that tourists shouldn’t be expected to prove they were sober when the accident took place, and it’s the company’s responsibility to prove that alcohol was the cause.
In cases where alcohol clauses exist, insurers have been known to refuse claims. The FOS has reminded customers that they can appeal the decision if insurance companies refuse to pay their medical expenses. “Insurers may choose not to pay out if they believe someone’s been drinking excessively, although this doesn’t necessarily mean holidays should be totally alcohol-free,” said chief financial ombudsman Caroline Wayman.
She added: “In each case, we’ll need to carefully weigh up all the evidence to decide, on balance, whether the insurer has made the right call. Encouragingly, compared with recent years, we’re generally upholding fewer travel insurance complaints. This suggests, while there is still clearly work to do, that many insurers are increasingly treating their customers in a fair and reasonable way.”
The FOS has also warned consumers that some insurers are very specific about what they cover, and that they should always check the small print and exclusions before taking out a policy. The exclusion only tends to apply when the consumers judgement is serious affected by alcohol.
A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: “Travel insurance is a lifeline for people who run into trouble overseas, with insurers paying out more than a million pounds every day. More than half of this funds emergency medical treatment for people who have been badly injured or have fallen seriously ill.”
“As with any insurance, customers do have a responsibility not to behave recklessly. Insurers know people will likely want to drink alcohol while they are on holiday and they don’t expect you to stay sober all the time, but there is a danger of invalidating your cover if you drink so much that it makes you act dangerously or means you are out of control.”