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TONY HETHERINGTON: Expensive insurance for one trip

Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, battling reader corners, revealing the truth behind closed doors, and winning victories for those left out of pocket. You can find out how to contact him below.

Mrs. JH writes: I bought annual multi-trip travel insurance from Staysure last October. We were on vacation last December, but when the government advised against all travel, I was hoping Staysure would give a partial refund.

I explained that since we are older and my husband is losing his eyesight, 2020 would be the last year we could travel.

However, the only option offered was to pay immediately for a new policy for next year and get 15 months of coverage instead of one year.

No Refunds: Staysure was only willing to provide an additional three months of coverage

No Refunds: Staysure was only willing to provide an additional three months of coverage

Last year, when you paid £ 799 on your Staysure policy, you had no idea you’d only have one vacation. You planned more trips, including a cruise, before your husband’s vision deteriorates further.

Instead, you ended up paying a fortune for travel insurance, but you couldn’t travel. When the lockdowns began and the government officially advised against all travel, the Financial Conduct Authority made it clear to insurers that they must treat customers fairly and be aware of the pandemic.

I don’t think sticking to this year’s premiums completely – without risking paying out – can be considered reasonable.

And what if you’ve written off your £ 799 and hand out the same for next year, while Staysure covers a three-month bonus to sweeten the pot? What would happen if the pandemic continued in 2021? Without risk, would Staysure collect premiums for another year and then ask you to pay again for 2022?

Staysure has told me that it has offered a range of options to one-year and one-way policyholders, including for one-way customers the option to postpone or accept a voucher at no additional cost at any time in the next three year.

And to give the insurer the right, it has included Covid cancellation coverage and medical treatment and repatriation if a policyholder contracts the virus while on vacation.

However, what it didn’t offer was a refund of your £ 799.

Well, that has changed, but only a little bit. Staysure told me, “We review each case on an individual basis.”

It will pay back £ 100 as a goodwill gesture after learning that your husband is less able to see. Of course, this still gives you a travel policy that cost £ 699 for one holiday.

I don’t think this is fair so I asked the FCA for comment. Watchdog staff pointed me to guidelines they had given to all insurers, saying, “Customers should expect value from the products they buy, and that’s especially important in the current period of economic uncertainty.”

You may have expected value from Staysure, but I can’t see you got it.

Not surprisingly, you don’t raise the money for a new policy. I wouldn’t reach for my checkbook in your shoes either.

Without a guarantee on vacation in the near future, it would be too much like pouring hundreds of pounds down a drain that had already swallowed up a lot of money.

£ 896 bill for a firm I don’t own

AH wrote: British Gas has sent me electricity bills for four newly built properties that I do not own.

The accounts are addressed to a limited liability company that I had never heard of. Besides, I am not even a UK gas customer.

I complained, and eventually British Gas told me everything was fixed, but now I have received a bill for £ 896.

Mix up: British Gas has apologized and AH accepted its £ 50 offer to offset the obvious concerns

Mix up: British Gas has apologized and AH accepted its £ 50 offer to offset the obvious concerns

Mix up: British Gas has apologized and AH accepted its £ 50 offer to offset the obvious concerns

According to Companies House, there is no company that should be located in your home. However, I did find one with a similar name, not far away, but the data shows no connection to you.

I asked British Gas to explain what happened, and it appears that the real estate company has changed its address and your address was entered incorrectly. A spokesperson said to me, “We are sorry the letters were sent to Mr. H because of an incorrect forwarding address.

“We have now put things in order and updated our administration.”

British Gas has apologized, and you accepted his £ 50 offer to make up for the obvious concerns.

False cargo … of the Indian Ocean

RF wrote: I received an email, supposedly from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service, imposing a fine for failing to pay a road tax.

I think this is a scam as the fine does not list my car’s license plate or say where the alleged infringement took place, and we did not travel anywhere where there is a charge for using the roads.

Well written: the scam email supposedly from HM Courts and Tribunals Service

Well written: the scam email supposedly from HM Courts and Tribunals Service

Well written: the scam email supposedly from HM Courts and Tribunals Service

The fine looks official and is better written than most bogus claims, but you are absolutely right, it is a scam. You will be told the fine is £ 50, reduced to £ 25 if you pay in one installment, but doubled if you don’t pay within 28 days.

There is also the threat of legal action. There is no address on the fine and the phone number displayed is out of order. You will be asked to click on a link and provide your credit or debit card information to make the payment. Of course, that would make as much sense as giving a burglar the keys to your house.

The link leads to a payment website with an internet address ending in .io. This is the suffix assigned to websites located in the British Indian Ocean Territory, a group of small islands that appear on the map like flying spots. Your £ 25 may have made an islander very happy, but it certainly never would have made it to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

If you believe you have been the victim of financial misconduct, write to Tony Hetherington from Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Due to the large number of questions, no personal answers can be given. Only send copies of original documents, which unfortunately we cannot return.

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