Former Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose is backing a new 'no exclusions' insurance policy for missed flights that is being offered on bookings made through easyJet's website.
Rose, who stepped down as chairman of M&S in January last year, said the cover exploited a current gap in the market for insurance for missing a flight for any reason.
He is non-executive director of private company No Exclusions, which has developed Missed Flight Cover for launch partner easyJet with a view to rolling it out to other airlines by autumn this year.
Missed Flight Cover is offered on any bookings, including those by travel agents, made through easyjet.com and covers any instances when passengers miss a flight, for example, if they oversleep or are delayed getting to the airport. It costs £7.50 on single flights or £9.50 on return flights.
No Exclusions will offer passengers an immediate full refund or rebook seats on the next available easyJet flight. Passengers must register their claim at the easyJet sales desk at the airport within four hours of the missed flight's departure. The policy is backed up by a 24-hour call centre to help rebook passengers.
It follows consumer research of 1,000 UK flight passengers by market research company OnePoll on behalf of No Exclusions, which found more than 70% of passengers have an inherent fear of missing their flight; 43.6% will consider staying in an airport hotel to alleviate travel stress; and nearly 89% will add an hour or more to the airport journey. The actual number who miss their flights remains low, admitted the company.
Rose, speaking at the launch, said: "Since I left full-time employment I have tried to look for companies which are entreprenurial and see a gap in the market and are young and dynamic. For me, what's exciting is that this is a new product that is totally simple, everyone can understand it."
He admitted the product was based on a model of "high take-up but low returns". "If 70% of people worry about it there is enough probability that you can sell enough policies to make it worthwhile," he added.
No Exclusions chief executive Andrew Lothian said: "There is nothing like Missed Flight Cover in the market."
Travel insurance policies include missed departure cover but this is restrictive, retrospective and passengers must prove, for example, that their car broke down on the way to the airport, said Lothian.
He added: "Missed Flight Cover gives customers peace of mind and an immediate resolution. For airlines, it takes the pressure off check in staff who are not always sure how to deal with irrate passengers as we handle the solution for them and it gives airlines a new ancillary revenue stream."
No Exclusions is already in discussions with other airlines and hopes the product will be offered by other carriers later this year. Although suited to low cost carriers it could also be of interest to other airlines, the company said. "We have registered Missed Flight Cover as a trademark and are hoping airlines will come to us rather than to anyone else," said Lothian.
Sales and marketing director Jane White said the company was also in talks with travel management companies and hoped to offer the product via other distribution channels such as global distribution system suppliers in future. "We are looking at all forms of distribution methods," she said.
The policy is offered in partnership with insurers Mondial Assistance, Groupama Insurance and Vantage Insurance Services.
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