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‘I had to cancel my £6,065 flights to Australia, and now my insurer won’t pay out’

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Australia's borders have been closed for a year - Getty
Australia’s borders have been closed for a year – Getty
Christine Dawson writes

On March 22 last year my husband and I were due to fly to Sydney, Australia to attend my youngest son’s wedding. We bought business class tickets with Malaysian Airlines (MAS) costing £6,065. Two days before departure, it became clear that we would not be able to travel. The UK was about to lock down.

However, MAS was still flying the route and, at that time, said our only option was to rebook the flights and travel before December 2020. There was no offer of vouchers. We felt we had no alternative but to cancel and make a claim on our Staysure travel insurance policy.

I phoned the airline and the sales agent said I would receive a refund of the tax element. Two credits of £291 from “Malaysia Ai Kuala Lumpur” appeared on my credit card statement on March 24. We have since been battling Staysure’s claims agents, ETI Services, to approve the claim. The problem is that MAS did not send us a cancellation invoice and I simply cannot get the airline to issue one. Can you help?

Gill Charlton, consumer correspondent, replies

Getting paperwork from airlines for cancelled flights is proving more problematic than usual. If the flight is cancelled online or by the airline, an automatic acknowledgement is usually provided detailing any tax refund. The problem arises when a customer cancels by phone and does not specifically ask for a cancellation invoice. Without this proof many insurers will not pay out under the pandemic cover in places on policies issued before March 16 2020.

Mrs Dawson and I have both tried to obtain this proof from MAS but without success. The airline claims it no longer has a record of her reservation and so cannot retrieve the booking. ETI says without this evidence it will not approve the claim even though Mrs Dawson has provided a copy of the reservation, which details the cost, and twice sent a copy of her credit card statement showing repayment within days of her abandoned departure.

I contacted Staysure to ask for a review at a higher level. ETI had told Mrs Dawson that providing the document was a legal requirement and that if MAS didn’t comply then the CAA should help. I pointed out to Staysure that the tax refund provided solid proof that the flights were cancelled. Now that Staysure itself has seen the paperwork, its customer service team has approved the claim and £5,354 will be paid by the end of this week.

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