The last year saw major catastrophes, occurring in the travelling industry. Several airlines closed down, tens of thousands of travellers were left stranded overseas as a result, and travel agents were found to be using “misleading sales tactics” to sell holiday goers with their travel tourconsultancy.
As of January 2009, travel agents will need to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or become Introducers or Representatives of an FSA-regulated company in order to sell travel insurance.
The travel insurance provider, Sainsbury’s has welcomed the change in the law, and also warned that several people are still at present falling victim to underhand and misleading sales tactics used by some unscrupulous travel agents to ensure that their policies are purchased. This has resulted in thousands of people wrongly being sold travel insurance by travel agents every year.
The insurance provider also revealed that five per cent of travellers, who claim to have bought insurance from travel agents in the past 12 months, – as many as 407,000 people – were wrongly told that they could not book their holiday, unless they also took out the cover being offered by their agents at the time.
Sam Marrs, Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance Manager said: “This is an alarming finding, but it will be much more difficult for rogue travel agents to do this once they are regulated by the FSA. Our research shows that up to as many as 8.14 million people could have bought insurance from travel agents over the past 12 months and the new regulation will provide consumers with valuable much needed protection.”
Moreover Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance’s research also reveals that travel insurance policies sold through travel agents could potentially leave thousands of people with inadequate cover. Some 16 per cent of those who have purchased travel cover from travel agents this year claim they were not asked about any pre-existing medical conditions, slightly down from 17 per cent last year. However the problem of travel agents failing to outline what insurance does and does not cover has become worse, affecting 17 per cent of customers purchasing cover from travel agents in the past 12 months, up from 13 per cent last year”.