British Airways (BA) has clashed with insurance companies over a dispute regarding compensation for costs incurred by passengers who were affected by last weekend’s IT disaster, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights. According to BA’s website, customers seeking to claim compensation for expenses such as meals eaten during delays should initially approach their travel insurer, but the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has hit back, saying that first responsibility lies with the airline. This was backed up by a UK consumer rights expert.
The wording on BA’s website, which the airline has said it will alter but at the time of writing remains unchanged, states: “You should make a claim with your travel insurer in the first instance. If you have expenses that either you were not successful in claiming or which are not covered by your policy, you may claim for only these expenses in the form below.” But while passengers whose flights to the European Union (EU) were disrupted are entitled to compensation, insurers have been angered by BA’s suggestion that travel insurance policies would pay for non-flight related expenses such as meals and hotels. Compensation paid by the airline is more likely to mean that passengers get a full refund, without the excess that could come from travel insurance payouts.
“No-one wants these passengers pushed from pillar to post,” said the ABI’s Malcolm Tarling, while consumer rights expert Helen Dewdney said: “Looking at the claim for expenses online, once you start the online process, it suggests that you should claim from your travel insurance first. For EU flights, this is in breach of EU law – the airline must pay for reasonable expenses … it is the airline's responsibility to inform people of their rights and it does not appear to me that BA has done nearly enough.”