I have, for several years, annually purchased Annual Worldwide Travel Insurance through a company called Worldwide Insure as I go back and forth to the States as I have rental properties in Florida. I have never, thankfully, previously ever had to make a claim. I renewed my annual insurance in July 2014. I left for Florida on the 14th of August 2014 for a 3 week stay.
I arrived at West Palm Beach Airport to start my journey back to London Heathrow on Thurs 4th of Sept 2014 at approximately 12:30pm to check in for my flight to London via Chicago's O'Hare airport. The ticket agent at American Airlines said my flight was delayed and they would have to change my ongoing flight from Chicago to London Heathrow as I would never make the 18:10 flight. She changed the flight to 19:00 saying that the West Palm Beach Flight should be departing at 16:30 and would arrive at Chicago at 18:30 giving me 30 minutes to get to the gate. She asked how many bags I was checking in and I replied 1. However she noticed I had a handbag and two rucksacks and said that AA (American Airlines) rules were 1 carry on only. I said I needed both rucksacks and my handbag but she was adamant that I could only take one carry on. I therefore had to stand to one side to reorganise my luggage. In one of my rucksacks was my sunglass case which contained my prescription sunglasses and an inherited ring, which I had taken off when my hands had been bitten the day before by mosquitos. I had wrapped the ring in tissue paper and put it in my prescription sunglass case for safe keeping.
When I flew out to West Palm Beach on the 14th of August, I had purchased (via ebay) a brand new ultra light suitcase (see attached receipt). When I collected the case in Charlotte (first port where I had to go through US customs) the case was fine and was handed back for it to continue on to West Palm Beach. When I arrived at West Palm Beach and collected my case it was severely damaged and I went to the US Airways desk (that’s who I flew out with) to report the damage. The gentleman agreed it was indeed severely damaged and booked the damage in, but said that they would not be able to repair or replace the case in the States and to hand the case in on arrival at London Heathrow when I returned and it would be either repaired or replaced then. My damaged case had a smaller case within it as well as the rucksack I had been forced to put in because I was only allowed one carry on. When I arrived at Heathrow I took out the rucksack and the smaller case and handed the case in to US Airways who gave me a receipt. I returned home and a few days later got round to unpacking which is when I discovered that my sunglass case was missing from the rucksack which had been put in the suitcase. The ring was in the sunglass case so I in fact lost two items: prescription sunglasses and also my ring. I phoned the Claim Line number on my insurance document and there was a recorded message giving the website for a claim form to be downloaded. I downloaded the form, completed the information, provided original documentation to verify my claim and sent it by GUARANTEED NEXT DAY DELIVERY to Claims Settlement Agencies.
The insurance policy states:
Provided you have paid the appropriate premium as shown in your policy schedule, you are covered in accordance with the full wording shown herein up to the limits indicated below for the cover chosen. The limits shown apply per person for each separate trip.
7. Baggage - overall limit
maximum per item, pair or set
total limit for all valuables
Yesterday I received a letter which stated they would NOT pay any money out on this claim citing:
"Having reviewed the claim using the information kindly provided, we are unable to give favourable consideration to your claim. Please refer to the section heading, Section 7 – Baggage, which states: “You are not covered for
d. loss or theft of or damage to valuables whilst unattended unless locked in a hotel safe (or equivalent facility) or locked in your private accommodation.”
“Unattended means out of your immediate control and supervision such that are unable to prevent loss, theft or damage occurring.”
I am appalled at this. How can they put in a clause that actually COUNTERS the first item which clearly states baggage is covered? Also, by their definition all checked in baggage would never be covered as it is out of my immediate control which clearly is wrong. Have I a claim against the insurance company? The ring was valued (I have a valuation document) for £4,500. My prescription sunglasses cost me £300 but that was around 13 years ago and I guess it would cost around £250 to replace them. The claim amount was therefore £4,750. Please let me know what my legal standing is in this matter.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Do they define what valuables are please?
Dear Ms Watts
I attached both the insurance policy and the rejection letter. The only item they mention in the rejection letter
is my glasses - however they have stated they will not process the claim thereby rejecting both items. Where do I stand legallly? How can a policy at the beginning state baggage and valuable limits and then have a clause further down that say any baggage and valuables not always in your possession will not be covered. That in effect is saying if your luggage, contianing your valuables, is lost - TOUGH it's not covered.That cannot be legal surely????
What do you mean by sending a RATE MY SERVICE request. WHAT SERVICE? You have NOT answered my questions NOR have you given ANY advice!!!!
You do not need to rate as I have only asked questions
What is the total value of your claim please?
£4,750 made up of £4,500 for the ring - see attached valuation. £250 for the presecription sunglasses
Dear Ms WattsOn what basis - they have a clause which is in the policy which actually contravenes their initial statement assuring me of coverage.l So, on what basis am I to send a Guaranteed Next Day Delivery - what point in law do I quote that covers my request for compensation and that overturns their clause?
Indeed. You can argue Regulation 5 of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regs 1999
(1) A contractual term which has not been individually negotiated shall be regarded as unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.
(2) A term shall always be regarded as not having been individually negotiated where it has been drafted in advance and the consumer has therefore not been able to influence the substance of the term.
Does that help?
Dear Ms WattsThank you for the update - are there any actual cases that are similar that were won by proceeding to court on the basis of Regulation 5 of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regs 1999?
Thank you Ms Watts. Will be sending a letter Guaranteed Delivery with your advice. Let's hope it gets the desired result ie they pay my claim.