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SolicitorRM
SolicitorRM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 5428
Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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Jo, I am writing on behalf of my company STO Travel Ltd, and

Customer Question

Hello Jo, I am writing on behalf of my company STO Travel Ltd
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: and would like to know if I have a legal case.
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Derby
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: no and thank you
Submitted: 18 days ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Hello,I would like to request your opinion on whether I have a contract dispute case please.We are a sports tour operator, taking sports groups away, it’s very seasonal with the vast majority of our groups travelling March-May to coincide with school holidays and the end of the sports season. Due to the government’s travel restrictions we have lost 2 seasons (2020 & 2021). We operate under the standard Package Travel Regulations (PTR’s) which were never written with a global pandemic in mind, this is a first of course, and leave travel businesses and customers exposed. We had to offer a 100% refund to groups who couldn’t travel or the option of changing travel dates. We have refunded where necessary. Some groups changed their dates from 2020 to 2021 (no-one knew this would continue so long) and now they also want a refund because they have been unable to travel for a second year. We are having to process more refunds and are still not able to operate. Only 2 groups opted for insurance.We offer travel insurance as part of the package when groups purchase a tour from us. Our insurance broker is Harrison Beaumont who purchase insurance from Global Response who apparently are a part of Great Lakes Insurance SE.Two groups purchased insurance before Covid 19 was declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020:
1) Beddau RFC u15s
58 people booked Lake Garda, Italy 4-11 April 2020. They split into 2 insurance groups insuring the players first.
STO Travel Ltd Ref: C8891JC Insurers ref: TC/UKG/BBS19/75260 (Group 1 = 1 adult + 20 players) (Group 2 = 19 adults + 5 junior siblings TC/UKG/BBS19/75259)
Group 1: junior players + 1 adult. Date sent to Kerry Holland at Harrison Beaumont 21.01.2020. Date sent to Financial Ombudsman 01.09.2020
Group 2: 21 adults + 5 juniors. Date sent to Kerry Holland at Harrison Beaumont 02.03.2020. Date sent to Financial Ombudsman 01.09.2020
£ x 45 people = TO FOLL
2) Addiscombe Casuals FC
19 people booked originally to Berlin, Germany 9-12 April 2020 (2 people cancelled at an earlier stage leaving a total of 17 people insured).
STO Travel Ltd Ref: C Insurers Ref: TC/UKG/BBS19/79407
Date insurance requested from Harrison Beaumont 05.03.2020 Date sent to Financial Ombudsman 02.09.2020
£425 x 16 people (+ 1 free place 17 people total) = £6800 + 17 x £4.70 German tourist taxes = £79.90
TOTAL CLAIM = £6879.9We believe that the insurers should refund their insured customers as they have a contract with the customer. On their contact it states (under cancellation and curtailment) that ‘Compulsory quarantine’ is covered. The dictionary definition of quarantine is:
quarantine
[ kwawr-uhn-teen, kwor-, kwawr-uhn-teen, kwor- ]
See synonyms for: quarantine / quarantined on Thesaurus.com
________________________________________
noun
a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.
a period, originally 40 days, of detention or isolation imposed upon ships, persons, animals, or plants on arrival at a port or place, when suspected of carrying some infectious or contagious disease.
a system of measures maintained by governmental authority at ports, frontiers, etc., for preventing the spread of disease.
the branch of the governmental service concerned with such measures.
(from dictionary.com)
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..From this we believe that their claim covers travel disrupted due to Covid 19 as the government imposed a compulsory quarantine to prevent the spread of the Corona virus.Both groups tried to make a claim directly with the insurers and were refused based on the following reasons:Reason 1 – They claimed we STO Travel Ltd requested the insurance too late. This is not true and we have proof/dates. **We can send copies of the emails requesting insurance if required and have stated the dates we purchased it by the group information above. We dealt with Kerry Holland at Harrison Beaumont who also wrote to tell us from 13.03.2020 (2 days after Covid 19 was declared a pandemic) to inform us they were not taking any new insurance bookings but everything we had purchased up to that date would be honoured. **I can send a copy of the email if required.
Reason 2 – They claimed we made payment too late. This is not true and again we proved this sending copies of bank statements to Jonny Sharp on 17.09.2020. We paid in line with their own terms and conditions. **We can send you proof if required.
Reason 3 – They claim they do not cover government orders. How is this even possible? If so, they have never honoured a jury service claim even though this is also under cancellation and curtailment (Jury service is also a government order stated as covered on their policy. If they have ever paid out then they are in breach of their own contract, if they have never paid jury service out then they are falsely
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
stating items are covered then decline in case of a claim.I didn’t understand why the insurers were not honouring their contract so I advised them to give me delegated authority (which they did in writing – I can send copies to you if required) to basically fight their case for them. I took both cases to the financial ombudsman, sending details for Beddau RFC on 01.09.2020 and Addiscombe Casuals FC 02.09.2020. It states on the financial ombudsman’s website that it takes 3 months to process claims, however, despite repeated chasing, our cases weren’t allocated to anyone until 03.05.2021 (9 months later) causing major delays to us and our group’s refund. Our contact at the financial ombudsman was Jo Downes. She basically looked at our PTR’s and told me that we are responsible (which we are more than aware of), however, she did not even look into the insurer’s liability and as I previously stated, the PTR’s don’t take a pandemic, a government order prolonging international travel for 14 months now or the insurer’s obligations/contract who have repeatedly refused to pay the claim for reasons that are not true (listed above) and while we have made refunds where necessary to our groups we don’t believe they are honouring their contract and would like you to look at this please.Jo Downes from the financial ombudsman wrote on 25.05.2021 that ‘she cannot accept us as a representative in order to safeguard his interests as distinct and separate from those of STO Travel Ltd’.The travel industry has been the hardest hit sector during the Covid 19 pandemic. We have sustained large financial losses and are still unable to operate. We have received a total of £5000 in government grants which is an insult (the rest is loans which we have to pay back).We really want to sort these groups out (ie send the remainder of their refund but are aware that if we send their refund, the clause ‘To pay up to £3,000 in all each Insured Person in respect of loss of travel and accommodation expenses paid or contracted to be paid as a result of the journey/holiday being necessarily and unavoidably cancelled or curtailed (see note below) due to any cause listed commencing and occurring during the Period of Insurance provided such expenses are not recoverable from any other source.) directly after the Section 1 – Cancellation and curtailment heading may kick in on the insurer’s terms and conditions – even though we would have to borrow more government money to send their refund leaving us with more debt. The groups have been extremely patient but their patience is understandably wearing thin now and they just want their refund. Please can I ask you to let me know if you think we have a case? Is it possible to do on a no win, no fee basis because we need to avoid further debt. Also, do you have an idea of the timescale involved as we need this resolving urgently.We hope you can help,Kind RegardsJacquie Cooper
Tour Director
Sports Tours Overseas Ltd
The Travel Hub,***** Derby. DE22 2AA***@******.***
website: www.stotravel.co.uk
Tel: 00 44 (0) 1332 448383
Mobile: 00 44 (0) 7909 813577
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Please let me know if you would like me to send any supporting documents? The insurance policy for example?
Expert:  Virtual-mod replied 18 days ago.
Hello,

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
It’s fine to wait a little longer.
Expert:  TetyanaP-admin replied 15 days ago.
Hello,
I apologise as we have not yet been able to find a Professional to assist you. Do you wish for me to continue to search for someone to assist you or would you like for us to close your question at this time?
Thank you for your patience,
Tetyana-moderator
Expert:  SolicitorRM replied 15 days ago.

Good afternoon, welcome to just answer. I am a solicitor and I have been asked to review your question for you. Thank you for all the details. That it is a contract dispute is clear and the contract is between the insurers and the travellers. You could communicate the claims on the travellers' behalf but you would not have legal standing to pursue litigation against the insurers on the travellers' behalf. The provision on quarantine could mean quarantine having departed and on the holiday trip already and they would look to take this intepretation. Due to the the extensive detail this is one matter you will want to discuss on the phone or to send to me a copy of the policy wording. Calls and review of formal documents are done as part of JA's premium services and additonal cost is applied (modest in line with JA's low fees). Let me know what you would prefer and I will ask for the appopriate offer to be sent to you.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Hello, Thank you for your response. I have delegated authority (in writing) from the group leader of both groups to pursue this claim on their behalf. When the insurers originally turned them down, it was down to 'we paid late' (we didn't and have paper trail to prove this) they also said we bought the insurance after Covid was declared a pandemic (we didn't - we insured one of the groups in January well before Covid was even heard of), the other 2 groups were purchased before 11 March - the date Covid was declared a pandemic. I offered to take over delegated authority because the customer doesn't have access to dates we purchased the insurance etc. to prove otherwise. Can an insurers take whatever interpretation of 'quarantine' they like? Even when it's different to a dictionary definition? I will attach the policy (with the relevant parts highlighted yellow). The third (& final reason) the insurers refuse to honour their contract is saying that 'they don't cover government orders'. We can't understand how this is possible? They honour jury service for example (a government order) and 'Compulsory quarantine' could only be ordered by a government so to state under 'Cancellation and curtailment' that it is covered, then in 'General exclusions' it isn't (when it's refering to a list under that particular clause) we believe is fraudulent. Do you have an email address to send you the contract. I'll try and simplify the situation too. Thank you
Jacquie Cooper
Expert:  SolicitorRM replied 14 days ago.

Hi, thank you for the clarification. With regards ***** ***** used in policy wording the meaning We do not have direct email addresses for attaching documents that are sent before the review of formal documents premium service is accepted regrettably.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I do t think you will be able to help then. Please can you tell me how i stop payments as i wish to cancel. Thank you, jacquie
Expert:  SolicitorRM replied 14 days ago.

Hi, no problem, you need to write to customer service to say you no longer wish to continue with the service I have no access to customer services, I only get access to cases that are sent to me to address. All the best.