Huge variations in delayed departure cover

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Strikes, bad weather conditions and mechanical breakdown can all spell bad news for holidaymakers, and one thing most of the travelling public is agreed upon is that there’s nothing more dispiriting than sitting in an airport lounge or ferry terminal when you’d much rather be sitting on the beach or enjoying a spot of sightseeing.

The whole awful experience of delayed departures can be slightly tempered by having insurance cover for such an eventuality. However, as recent research from shows, it is a good idea to look at the small print before buying a policy. Not all polices have this cover included as standard, and even if they do there is a huge variation on what level of cover you have bought.

Some policies, such as AIG Direct’s Platinum cover, look very generous with a maximum pay out of £500 per person. However, the mathematically minded holiday maker will spot that in order to be eligible for this they would have to be delayed for 25 days!

Most cover allows for a claim to be made after a set period of around six to eight hours with a top-up claimable after each subsequent period of a similar length. Virgin, for instance, pays out £25 per person after eight hours and then a further £25 after each subsequent eight-hour period, up to a maximum of £100. Common sense dictates that few holidaymakers are going to sit at the airport for 25 days so it is more useful to choose a policy which pays out reasonably quickly rather than one which has a high maximum pay out.

If things get really bad you may wonder whether to cut your losses and give up. Many policies offer cover for holidays which have had to be abandoned due to industrial action, severe weather or failure of aircraft or ferry, but there will usually have to be at least a 24-hour delay, although some such as the AA have a 12-hour minimum limit.

One final word of advice: make sure you get written proof of the delay from your carrier in order to make a successful insurance claim.


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#1 it would be really helpful if you could suggest which policies are better than others in this department, you only talk about AIG's which is frustrating as I don't want to have to read through all their small print. thanks
Posted by john on 07/08/2009 at 11:55
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