Review of travel insurance regulations sought by ABTA

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is urging the British government to review the regulations pertaining to the sale of travel insurance.

ABTA’s move has been triggered by a rising trend in the number of British holidaymakers travelling abroad without adequate insurance. In 2011, 20 percent of travellers did not have insurance, but this figure had risen to 25 percent by 2012, according to an ABTA survey.

In ABTA’s opinion, the decline in those travelling with insurance followed the Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) 2007 decision to regulate travel insurance sales. ABTA also believes that travel insurance is best sold by the agent that books the travel, as they are the most aware of what the trip involves and any special cover that it will require. The association’s members have registered their concerns that travellers rely too heavily on what they believe to be the protection afforded by the European Health Insurance Card, and that they are also unaware of the exact cover that they are receiving from travel cover offered as a perk of some bank accounts and insurance policies.

The UK Treasury is to be informed of the travel industry’s concern that the current regulation of travel insurance sales is damaging to both businesses and travellers.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive, said, ‘The concern ABTA and many of our members have is that the regulations are too burdensome, which means fewer travel businesses are selling insurance, and ultimately that means fewer holidaymakers are taking out the appropriate insurance.

‘The government must do all that it can to make it easy for people to buy the right type of cover for their needs and that starts by cutting red tape; we will continue to make our members’ views clear to government.

‘In the meantime, it is very important that members familiarise themselves with their rights and responsibilities in informing customers about travel insurance.’

ABTA is to partner with the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in a new campaign to emphasise the importance of insurance to travellers, while the Association’s website, www.ABTA.com/travelinsurance, will provide a full guide to travel insurance.