Belfast Telegraph

Consumer: Covered by snow, but not by hols policy

By Claire McNeilly

Are you sure you've got the right travel insurance cover? Edna Lee (63) thought she had when she booked a holiday – flights, accommodation and airport transfers – to Malta with easyJet.

The retired Inland Revenue employee and her husband Stephen (61), a post office worker, were due to leave Belfast on March 23, until they woke up that morning to a nasty shock.

"The place was completely white and we couldn't get the car out of our street because of the heavy snow," the Newtownabbey woman said.

"We panicked because it was impassable and phoned easyJet, who said they'd have to mark us as 'no-shows' and that we'd then have to claim off our travel insurance."

Mrs Lee contacted Thomas Cook, the insurance company from whom she'd originally bought a £68.05 yearly policy, to find out what to do.

"EasyJet sent documentation to confirm that we didn't get to the airport and I provided newspaper cuttings to show how bad the weather was on the day we were supposed to leave, but it wasn't enough," she said.

"I was told that you can't claim on the insurance if you cannot reach the airport," she said.

"It was so frustrating because nobody wanted to help us, and, to top it all off, we'd spent £650 on a holiday and we ended up stuck here for a week in the snow."

The Belfast Telegraph contacted all the companies involved on behalf of the distressed couple.

An easyJet spokeswoman said that despite their "disappointing experience", the company couldn't compensate passengers for missing flights.

She added: "We urge all passengers who believe they will miss their flight to contact us to explore other options available such as changing the date or departure point. We also recommend passengers purchase comprehensive insurance to cover adverse weather."

Thomas Cook's underwriter White Horse Insurance said the couple's policy "did not provide cancellation cover due to inability to reach the airport".

A spokeswoman added: "Their policy did provide cover for alternative transport or later travel to their holiday destination. As with any insurance policy, we strongly recommend that customers read the policy in full."

Shane Matthews from Oval Insurance Broking in Belfast said insurance companies will scrutinise every claim.

"These days they are more likely to seek opportunities to avoid claims, therefore we always stress that consumers must be sure they purchase the cover they are going to need from the outset," he said.

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