Ash clowns

I’m just back from a short holiday, which went a bit like the General Election: we booked Portugal, but got Aviemore. The culprit was, of course, the volcanic ash cloud.

There’s not much you can do about an Act of God, but it’s quite exceptionally frustrating when you’re also dealing with the Acts of Sods. It turns out that – surprise! – some firms are complete bastards, so even when they’ll cover you for volcanic eruptions, they won’t actually cover what you think they’re covering.

I’ll spare you the minor ones, but this one struck me as a contender for the Big Book of Bastards: my in-laws, who booked the accommodation using their credit card, have been informed by their insurers – Royal Bank of Scotland – that RBS will only pay for two-fifths of their costs.

The problem, apparently, is that while RBS’s travel insurance covers any travel you book with your RBS card, the cover only extends to the account holder(s), not the entire party – so in our case, I’m supposed to claim the remaining three-fifths of the cost from my own travel insurance.

Problem is, the booking wasn’t in my name, and it wasn’t booked using my card. So I can’t claim it on my travel insurance at all.

I’m sure that with sufficient threats they’ll pay up eventually, but it does demonstrate that the whole point of travel insurance (or any other insurance) is to find ways not to pay in the event of a claim. I know that the B in RBS stands for Bastards, but I’m still quite shocked at just how bastard-y RBS’s travel insurance wing has been.

The point to all this? With Mount Unpronounceable kicking off for the forseeable future and perhaps bringing its friends to the ash cloud party too, don’t just buy travel insurance on price or on headline benefits. Look for the loopholes.





0 responses to “Ash clowns”

  1. mupwangle

    We’re not planning to go on holiday until September, but we’re seriously considering going by car or train.

  2. Gary

    Well, that’s the second cancellation for us so we’re taking it as a hint from the volcano gods. Factor in the overwhelming shittiness of air travel these days and sticking to ground level looks more and more appealing.

    My most recent London trip was by train; have always flown before. It was great.

  3. Gary

    Actually, it’s the fourth cancellation for us this year: liz had to cancel a trip down south because of BA strike and her pal had to reschedule a trip up to see her due to ash cloud. Combination of strikes and cloud makes it awfy hard to book anything with confidence.

  4. Was thinking about taking a trip down south to catch Cope in Windsor next weekend. The train all the way would cost me just under £50 more than flying to Brum. On the way down, it’d take marginally longer, but not enough to put me off. That journey time has 2.5 hours whacked on it on the way back due to a replacement bus service half the way.

    The Pendolino to London is an isolated case here.

    Travelled across Belgium the other week by train. How come they can do it right and we can’t? Do you think the fact that their system has to join up with others makes it more efficient?

  5. We always drive to Bavaria, and I can heartily recommend it. Yes, it takes ages, but it’s fun, so your holiday starts the second you step out of your door, rather than after you’ve finally reached your destination. Plus you get to go to extra destinations on the journey.

    Next time we can afford to go to Corsica, the plan is to get the Eurostar from London to Nice and then the ferry to Calvi, which looks like a seriously nice journey.

  6. mupwangle

    We (Me, Ruth and 2 mates) drove down to Monza for the F1 in 2006 with a tent. Took ages and a lot of organising, but was a good laugh. Went via Nancy and Interlaken on the way down, stayed at Salo, drove back through past Monaco and Cannes, stayed near Arles then back up. Not sure doing it just me and Ruth as she really doesn’t like driving on the other side. With mates one of them did half the driving. Alps were fun though.

    Never been to Corsica. We’ve been looking at prices for Eurostar and it’s looking really expensive so far. Hard to tell as you can’t book that far in advance. Anyone you’d recommend to look at accomodation down that way?

  7. Yeah, Eurostar’s not cheap, but we’re comparing it not to the cost of flying but to the cost of either flying plus car hire or driving plus boats. And the parking in Calvi is expensive in season and a nightmare all the time, so Eurostar plus boat seems like a good way of doing it. Also, Corsica Ferries are so much nicer than the various services crossing the English Channel and Irish Sea, it’s worth getting the boat just for the experience.

    Been to Corsica twice, and I’d recommend both companies we booked with. Went on honeymoon via, who were really good. And went a couple of years ago and booked an apartment via, who were also. Once you’re there, it’s not cheap. I think everything there has a premium cause they have to get it onto an island. But it is so much nicer than the rest of France, and the people are a lot nicer than the rest of the French, and they make the best cold meat in the world.

  8. mupwangle

    Must be a limit on depth of reply threads so I’ll reply to myself. :-)

    Thanks for that. Ruth’s determined that she doesn’t want to risk flying (especially the problems Gary’s had with travel insurance (we’re RBS too)) as she doesn’t want to look forward to a holiday for ages then not get one at all. She’d rather pay the difference or go to Bognor.

  9. I’ve been ranting at Kat all week about what a massive scam insurance is. They take as much money as they can, and then do everything in their power not to pay out a penny.

  10. Gary

    I don’t think insurers are particularly dishonest, but I do think they’re good at hiding lots of bad news in the small print. The sods.

  11. Basic rule of costing all financial products: price increases as risk decreases.

    I have to say this particular case is rather unfair, though. In this case, it’s not like their customers are actually shopping around for travel insurance and weighing up cost versus risk. RBS have told them that anything they buy on their credit card is automatically covered, thus giving them the impression that they don’t need to shop around. Had that cover not been there, presumably your in-laws would have bought some proper insurance. There’s an argument just waiting to be won there.

  12. Yes, exactly, they were led to believe that the insurance on their cards covered the purchases made on their cards. I do think they’ll get their money back eventually, but I suspect it’ll be a long and frustrating process.