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First of all, it is Ciao who seem to think Halifax Life provide this cover. It is actually underwritten by St Andrews Insurance Group which is part of the HBOS (Halifax Bank Of Scotland) Group. Apologies for me being too lazy to let Ciao know!
But who cares about that?
There are times in life when a rip off leaps out and grabs you! The insurance policies sold by travel agents and tour companies are so obviously poor value for bog standard protection, that shopping around for insurance is best done before booking the holiday!
When Thomas Cook quoted me £169.95 to insure my clan on holiday for two weeks in Minorca, I cracked up laughing. Given that we could book a basic self-catering holiday in the UK for a week for this sum, I knew there had to be a better option. Not too much wrong with the cover offered. Just the price!
I surfed in to AOL land and tried their recommended cover from Lloyds TSB. Well, they were willing to provide an annual policy for £138. But I am unlikely to take a second foreign holiday in the next year so this also seemed steep.
Then I used my own bank. Halifax. The premium (online) came out at £64. Surely some mistake. I could not bring myself to click <accept> as I was sure there was a big catch waiting to grab me at some point. Probably the point when I need a life saving operation in some remote Spanish hospital! £64 for an annual policy v £169 for a 14 day policy. Very odd! Not looking good for Thomas Cook here!
So, when the phone lines opened on Monday morning I made the call, which was answered immediately by a very friendly voice.
They took 60 seconds to collect my family details, check for pre-existing medical conditions (I disclosed the mild asthmas that we suffer and was reassured that as these had not involved hospitalisation previously they were not a concern) and had the premium confirmed.
I asked for the catches.
The reply came back that there were effectively none.
As I have personal belonging cover on my home contents policy, they had discounted my premium, meaning that I cannot claim on the travel policy if my camcorder is pinched (but my home policy would do the job). I had agreed to a £50 excess, although could pay extra to waive it. I also have 30 days to read the policy. If I find anything unacceptable I could claim a FULL refund and cancel the policy. An option not offered by Thomas Cook.
Having spent a thrilling Tuesday evening reading the policy booklet that was provided, I am completely satisfied. The cover provided matched or exceeded that from Thomas Cook. I had saved money by not double insuring my personal belongings. And that sneaky little clause in travel agents policy that insists on a £50 excess per person per claim (effectively £250 for my family) is simply £50 per claim with the Halifax.
So, Halifax gets the sale. I can travel to just about anywhere in Europe for a year with my clan and not have to pay again for insurance. And I have over £100 spare to buy one of those new satellite telly things from the BBC! Thomas Cook, I would never EVER consider you for travel insurance again! And you are meant to be the travel experts!
Are there any catches? Well, my premium would increase if I opted to travel outside Europe/Mediterranean. If I wanted cover related to skiing, it would cost more. But if you have ever seen me try to ski, you will understand why I have no need for this. Oh, and I am not covered for golfing equipment either. But then I do not play golf!
Typical policy limits are £5000 for cancellation (suitable for my budget, take care if you can afford a posh holiday!); £10m for medical and repatriation cover (so they can afford to fly my corpse home if my overeating abroad has dire effects) and £2m for personal liability should I drunkenly damage somebody elses property as I do my stereotypical Englishman abroad impersonation!
The size of the medical cover shows how important travel insurance is. But you do not have to pay top price for average cover when people like the Halifax can knock out decent annual policies for less than £70 a year.
The simple lesson from this experience is - NEVER BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE FROM A TRAVEL AGENT! Always shop around. Consider an annual policy. And check out the cover you get (I did manage to find a quote for £49, but the policy limits and excesses were significantly worse). And make sure you take your policy details on holiday with you!
More information from www.halifax.co.uk/insurance or from the link on the homepage of www.halifax-online.co.uk if you already use their internet banking service. You can also use the phone in the local branch.
Interestingly, Which? magazine has also confirmed this as a best buy recently.
As for Thomas Cook? Hahahaha!
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I AGREE WITH YOU HALIFAX IS GREAT, I NORMALLY GO ON AVERAGE THREE HOLIDAYS A YEAR AND HALIFAX IS THE BEST ONE I FOUND AND THE CHEAPEST AND PAYING JUST OVER £100 FOR A COUPLE TO TRAVEL FOR A WHOLE YEAR IS GREAT IN MY OPIOIN, MY TRVAL INSURANCE IS JUST ABOUT TO RUN SO I WILL GO BACK TO THEM TO RENEW IT.
kinsey_uk 19.10.2004 19:01
I was going to write a review but as u've done such a good job I thought i'd send a comment instead.
I have had my halifax insurance for a year. Last November I went to the usa & took out a year's policy with halifax for 101 pounds.
As it was about to expire (end October) hubby & I decided to take a wk's break. Unfortunatly I had an accident (see airtours review) and needed my insurance. They were absolutely BRILLIANT. I cannot recommend them highly enough. They were quick & competant & very friendly & polite at all times. They went out of their way to help.
Well done Halifax, St Andrews. Keep it up.
Ooberamy 13.08.2003 14:51
I've never taken out insurance with Halifax, but I was looking at the travel insurance on their website and I noticed several inconsistencies.
Firstly, on the policy wording it says that the single trip limit is 31 days, and on the summary of cover in the help section it says that the single trip limit is 60 days. I contacted Halifax about this and they informed me that it it is 60days, but the policy wording is the actual legal document. Looking back at the website after several weeks I see that they have not changed this, which is misleading.
Also, the summary of cover table says that the cover for personal accident is £50,000, while the policy wording for the same plan says that it is only £30,000.
I would personally be wary about such inconsistencies, especially on legal documents like policy wordings.