A multinational that promises to relieve customers facing stressful situations refused to pay after two relatives passed away.
Europ Assistance Australia recently declined to reimburse more than $6800 in additional travel expenses arising from two family deaths. This happened despite the company trading as Tick Travel Insurance promising to pay accommodation, meal, phone and travel expenses above what was originally budgeted for if a relative dies at the time of trip interruption according to its product disclosure statement (PDS).
Life Begins At investigative reporting found multiple claims officers, internal dispute resolution employees, and even the Australia head of insurance repeatedly referred to the wrong claim forms and gave what could be considered incorrect/misleading information. The publication also discovered the claim form for cancellation contains an option that does not exist.
“If claim is for trip abandonment we require written confirmation from the airline of the delay/cancellation of the flight, the reason for the delay and the length of time the delay lasted,” page two of the document said.
Australia head of insurance Luke Davidson admitted the executive committee knew that trip abandonment was not covered, and the invalid option was “confusing” and “unhelpful”. However, Davidson maintained his employer’s PDS explained what was covered and not. He would not commit to removing the option from claims forms or adding it to the PDS. He only considered trip abandonment as a “potential improvement” for single trip top cover travel insurance.
When Paris-headquartered parent company Europ Assistance S.A. was forwarded this information neither Northern and Eastern Europe Asia and South Africa CEO Pascal Baumgarten, nor any of his media spokespeople responded. This happened despite Life Begins At emailing and phoning twice.
This information was independently verified by purchasing single trip top cover for $273.99 then cancelling two non-refundable Brussels Airlines airfares from Budapest, Hungary to the Azores, Portugal due to one family member suddenly dying in June 2023. A claim was submitted for curtailment (cutting short your trip) and additional emergency expenses. However, the insurer refused to reimburse $1254.99 in lost airfares.
The following month a second non-refundable Finnair return flight to Brisbane, Queensland was cancelled and postponed due to a second family member suddenly dying. A curtailment (cutting short your trip) and additional emergency expenses claim was submitted. However, the insurer again declined to reimburse $3149 in unused flights.
The matter was raised though internal dispute resolution but the insurer refused to settle. The complaint was then escalated to Davidson, and the executive committee, but they still declined the claim. The dispute was finally brought to the attention of Baumgarten and his media relations team but none responded before the publishing deadline.
At the time of publication $4403.99 of flights were cancelled due to two unexpected deaths in the family. A further $4897.81 in extra Lufthansa flight expenses were incurred between Budapest and Lisbon plus a further $1920 in Finnair rebooking fees paid. Europ Assistance is still understood to owe $6817.81.
The level of service Europ Assistance delivered was arguably disappointing, especially after purchasing the best travel insurance money can buy with every ‘bell and whistle’ included. One could ask why the Australia head of insurance still holds his job, and the Paris head office never launched a formal investigation into the handling of claim numbers M058682.15 and M059027.49 and M061360.39 and M058989.58.
Europ Assistance has been contacted for a written apology and reimbursement of the $6817.81 payable under the insurer’s PDS.
The above article contains the author’s views and does not necessary reflect the publication’s opinions.