ASK TONY: Why didn't Direct Line tell me I had no travel insurance?

14 mins read


In March, I booked a holiday cottage in South Wales for four adults plus our two grandchildren.

We were due at a wedding on July 15 and, after that, planned to see family.

Covid-19 led to the wedding being cancelled. But I had already paid the final instalment for our holiday.

We waited, but England residents were not being allowed into Wales.

Denied: A reader was left devastated after he was forced to cancel a family holiday in Wales due to lockdown but then discovered he couldn't claim on his insurance policy

Denied: A reader was left devastated after he was forced to cancel a family holiday in Wales due to lockdown but then discovered he couldn’t claim on his insurance policy 

I believed I had travel cover under my home insurance policy with Direct Line and claimed the full cost of £1,785 on June 17. 

However, Direct Line says I can only claim if the cancellation is within 28 days of my travel date.

It maintains that limit is included in its policy document, but it is not in the original one I hold.

K. H., Marston Moretaine, Beds.

Direct Line used to offer free travel insurance on its Home Plus policies but this was discontinued for new customers from October 2017. Existing customers keep the benefit until they are 65.

So what is this 28-day limit? In 2015, Direct Line changed policy terms for claims when the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel (or all but essential travel) to a destination.

The advice must come into force after you opened your account or booked your trip (whichever is later) and cancellation must be within 28 days of your departure date. This is because FCDO advice not to travel is often temporary.

You cancelled on June 6, Direct Line says, which is around 40 days before your holiday was due to start.

However, Direct Line says it has no record that you were made aware of this policy change.

Your claim also fails on another crucial point — you are over the 65 age limit.

But Direct Line says you were not made aware of this when submitting your claim, or in subsequent communication.

The upshot is that Direct Line agrees that ‘on this occasion our service has not been to the standard that our customers should have expected’.

So, as a goodwill gesture for the inconvenience and any distress caused, it will generously cover your full £1,785 claim for accommodation costs. But when you book another holiday, you’ll need to buy separate travel insurance.

You have YOUR say 

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories.  Here are some in response to our article about how rogue salesmen representing some of Britain’s biggest utility companies are flouting coronavirus restrictions.

Cold-calling should be illegal, whether it’s by phone or on the doorstep. 

I have hung a slate sign on my door which says I will not speak to cold-callers, political campaigners or charity collectors. 

However, I still get them throughout the year.

S. P., by email.

A suspicious character knocked on my door with the logo of a telecoms provider emblazoned on his jumper. 

He said the firm was investigating problems with my landline. I haven’t been with the said company for a decade.

C. L., via email.

So many of these people start off by saying: ‘Don’t worry, I am not selling anything.’ 

I just tell them I don’t want to know. If they won’t go away, I press the button on a personal alarm and that always does the job.

broadband

C. S., Sunderland.

It’s shameful how these cold-callers put pressure on the elderly and vulnerable. 

My father was approached by a builder about costly property work which he ended up agreeing to. I think they know older people tend to be easier to convince.

C. T., Oxfordshire.

I try not to answer the door to any of these people but, if I accidentally do, I tell them I am not the homeowner, or that my partner deals with bills.

S. D., via email.

Before you engage with any salesperson, ask what training they have had. If they start to waffle or say that they are self-taught, just show them the door. 

A professional should never try to sell you something if you’ve made it clear you don’t want it.

S. B., Manchester.

 

 

I bought a £250 washing machine on May 23 but have had ongoing problems. I had an engineer out in June, July, August, and September and it is still not working.

I can’t get through to the manufacturer to get another engineer to call. I have tried using its online chat and was offered the option of an engineer who would guide me through what to do. 

But as I am 87 and not technically-minded, I said no and the firm just cut me off.

T. T., Sheerness, Kent.

My first question to you was: where did you buy this washing machine? This is because your contract is with the retailer which sold it rather than with the manufacturer. 

It is the retailer’s responsibility to sort out this issue and, if necessary, supply you with a new washing machine.

The answer was Argos, which is owned by Sainsbury’s.

I contacted Sainsbury’s, pointing out that you had provided the manufacturer with the chance to sort out the problems.

Sainsbury’s was, of course, unaware of your issues and immediately offered a replacement.

A spokesman said: ‘We have contacted Mrs T to offer a replacement washing machine now that we have been alerted to the repair issues she was experiencing.’

To emphasise, Sainsbury’s had no idea of these problems, so it deserves a pat on the back for acting so quickly once alerted.

Straight to the point 

As Treasurer of a small sports club, I have been looking to reduce outgoings. I wrote to BT to cancel our sports package in February, but it has continued to bill me for several months, even after me writing a second time.

G. L., Somerton, Somerset.

You unknowingly wrote to BT’s billing team in Durham, which cannot handle account closures. 

Its Newcastle office deal with this. BT has cleared your outstanding balance and closed the account.

*** 

In August, I stumbled across an old cheque for £102 which Currys had sent me in 2016. 

I called the retailer to ask for a replacement and was assured a new one would be with me in four weeks. But it never arrived.

M. W., Dunfermline.

An error meant your replacement cheque was not issued in August as promised. 

A spokesman says it is ‘truly sorry’ and you’ve been sent a new cheque for £132, with the extra £30 a gesture of goodwill.

*** 

I signed up for a one-month pass with Eurosport in January. 

But when I received my biannual bank statement, it said I had been charged three additional £6.99 monthly payments. 

I emailed Eurosport, but it said it will not offer a refund even though I have not used its service.

M. P., via email.

Eurosport says you signed up for a monthly subscription, not a one-month pass, which you could cancel at any time. 

However, it understands you did not believe you were an active subscriber and has refunded the £20.97.

*** 

In June, I bought a £99 pair of shoes from a seller on Instagram. I paid via PayPal and was asked to send the money as a ‘friends and family’ payment, rather than ‘goods and services’, to avoid complications. 

The shoes never arrived and the seller stopped replying.

L. B., via email.

PayPal strongly advises customers not to send payments in this way when shopping online as they are not covered by its Buyer Protection. 

This ensures you are refunded if goods don’t show up or aren’t as described. On this occasion, PayPal has refunded you as a goodwill gesture.  

Spark Energy is chasing me for £3,257.86. I signed up in January 2014, paying £96 per month for gas and electricity. Since then I have not had an annual statement.

I switched supplier in June 2020. Spark sent a statement showing a credit balance of £660.53. 

Then, on July 8, it sent a demand for £3,257.86 to be paid by July 18. On July 24, I received a demand from a debt collector. I finally managed to speak to people on July 29 and 30, when I was told the account would be put on hold.

I am still waiting for this to be resolved. I am a pensioner and am worried that there will be people coming to my house and harassing me.

P. C., Middx.

Spark was taken over by Ovo Energy in 2018.

My first thought was, ten days isn’t long to come up with more than £3,000 when you haven’t had a statement for six years.

A second bill was sent on July 14. But Ovo says if it doesn’t hear from a customer within ten days of the final bill, the debt collection process is triggered.

You had tried to make contact and, when you finally managed to speak to someone, the collection process was halted.

Ovo says your massive bill was caused by incorrect readings sent by your new provider. It put these into a disputes process after you made contact. 

But you then provided new readings via me, which allowed Ovo to correct your final bill. You were £631.52 in credit.

Ovo has apologised and refunded this along with a £150 goodwill gesture.

  • We love hearing from our loyal readers, so ask that during this challenging time you write to us by email where possible, as we will not pick up letters sent to our postal address as regularly as usual. You can write to: [email protected] dailymail.co.uk or, if you prefer, Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.

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