More than 10,000 Covid-related cases have been lodged to the watchdog, of which 5,900 were filed between July and September this year. Complaints have risen by a fifth, compared to the previous quarter, to a total of 68,735.
Travel insurance gripes made up the bulk of coronavirus-related issues, with the number of grievances rising from 569 in the first three months of this year to 2,561 in the three months to September. Millions of holidays were cancelled because of the virus, either because of lockdowns or by choice, which led to many travellers relying on their travel insurance.
Travel insurers could pay a record £275 million in claims
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that travel insurers expect to pay out a record £275 million in claims related to holiday disruption during the first lockdown, but warned that most policies purchased after the pandemic broke might have Covid-related exclusions.
One case involved a man who had arrived at a ski resort in Switzerland in March only to be told the resort would be closing. He flew home and made a claim on his insurance. The claim was rejected because the resort had told him he could stay in the accommodation, although the amenities would be closed. The FOS upheld his complaint.
In another, a couple’s claim for a holiday cancelled because of the initial travel ban was turned down. They had switched their annual cover a fortnight earlier and the insurer said they would have been aware of the pandemic when doing so. The FOS agreed it should have been made clear that the policy would not cover coronavirus-related cancellation at the point of purchase and upheld the complaint.
Insurers are doing everything they can
Martyn James, of consumer rights service Resolver, said that insurers have been ‘passing the buck’. He commented: “It does beg the question of what is travel insurance for, if not for these types of circumstances.”
An ABI spokesperson said: “Insurers are doing everything they can in these challenging times to ensure good customer service and that valid claims are paid as quickly as possible. It’s important to check the terms of your cover or speak to your individual insurer if you have any concerns.”
Overall, in the most recent quarter, the FOS upheld 32 per cent of complaints. PPI was still the most complained about product, despite last year’s deadline. Consumers have been able to challenge decisions if they complained before the deadline.