Holidaymakers upgrade insurance as safety fears persist

Holidaymakers upgrade insurance as safety fears persist

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Agents are selling more comprehensive, “higher-end” travel insurance policies as consumers’ fears about 
security persist.

Consumers are “more conscious about cover” in the current climate, according to Ashley Close, head of travel insurance partnerships and business development at Holiday Extras, which sells 90% of its insurance product via the trade.

The trend has emerged as Abta revealed it was seeking a review of travel insurance regulation following a “worrying rise” in people travelling without cover.

Close said agents who were “already doing a good job of selling lower-end policies” were “shifting to policies which offer more cover”.

“People are more conscious of making sure they are protected,” said Close. “If they are going to areas that may be risky, they want to make sure they are covered.”

Andrea Clayton-Norris, sales director at Citybond Suretravel, agreed consumers were 
“moving towards the higher-end, more flexible policies”.

To sell or advise on travel insurance, agents must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or be appointed a representative of an authorised firm.

When the UK financial services regulator introduced “burdensome regulations” on agents selling travel insurance in 2007, Abta warned fewer agents would sell it.

Abta is now seeking a review of UK regulation of insurance in light of the EU’s new Insurance Distribution Directive which views “low-risk insurance products” such as travel as exempt from regulation. The directive will be implemented in the UK in 2018.

The industry body wrote to economic secretary Harriet Baldwin and acting tourism minister David Evennett last week to request support, citing a “worrying rise” in people travelling without cover and a “marked decline” in agents and operators selling it.

Abta figures show in 2012, 23% of insurance packages were sold through agents and operators, down from 43% in 2004, and 22% of holidaymakers travelled uninsured in summer 2014, up from 19% in 2013.

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