Pricewatch reader queries: Check the small print when changing insurer
Plus: Energia customers billed on the double
Czech Airlines’ decision to pull out of Cork route left reader out of pocket and uninsured
Last year Joe Kirk changed his travel insurance provider to Laya. “I had been using JustCover.ie for many years. However, as my health insurance was with Laya, I felt it would be sensible to use their travel insurance,” he writes.
He reckoned that if “there was a health claim while I was abroad, it would be easier to sort out given that travel insurance uses one’s health insurance if the claim is above a certain level”.
Last May he booked a trip to Dresden in Germany. As there are no direct flights from Ireland, he decided to use the new Cork-to-Prague route provided by Czech Airlines, and from Prague he would take a two-hour train journey to Dresden.
“However, two weeks prior to departure, Czech Airlines contacted me to cancel the flights for “scheduling reasons”. I subsequently read in the national newspapers that Czech Airlines had pulled out of the route completely. The flights were only one part of the trip. I had booked time off work, booked hotel accommodation and so on. I always book way in advance to get the best rates and choose pre-pay with no refund.”
As all the other aspects of the trip were prepaid, it made sense to book alternative flights. “The total cost of these flights was €660 but I got a refund from Czech Airlines of €210, which gave a net cost of €450. I contacted Laya travel insurance, and, as instructed, completed a claim form.”
Laya told him his claim was “not listed in the scope of cover” and the claim was rejected. “I phoned Laya and I appealed the decision. However on June 23rd, they confirmed that because the airline cancelled the route, my claim was rejected.”
He says readers should be aware Laya does not provide cover for these types of circumstances. “I believe that this is a very unfair situation. I bought the cover in good faith with a company that I felt had a good reputation. One would need a legal degree to work out that such a scenario would not be covered. I felt that when I purchased this travel insurance from Laya, I would be covered for all such emergencies. It has made we wonder about my health insurance with Laya – will it use the fine print should I have a medical claim in the future?”
We contacted Laya, which said that, although it would not comment on individual claims made under its travel insurance offering, it wanted to make clear that cancellations such as the one outlined by our reader are not covered.
Energia customers billed on the double
Two readers contacted us in connection with Energia last week after realising the utility had made a big billing error and taken direct debit twice for July gas bills.
“When I called them today they told me it had happened to a lot of customers but they had sent emails,” a reader called Sandra said. It was only when she checked her junk mail account that she saw it.
“Anyway, the call was a good opportunity to realise that I have been with them just under a year and was just about to come off discounted rates, so time to change suppliers – again they had no intention of notifying me about that,” she says.
The same thing happened to Brendan McGrath. “They admit to debiting my account twice for the one bill and say they have instructed their bank to refund the double payment,” he writes. “I can’t imagine I’m the only one this has happened to,” he adds. He went on to say that a €10 goodwill payment against his next bill wouldn’t be much use as, like Sandra, he had just completed his annual switch of electricity and gas providers and was moving from Energia back to Bord Gáis.
We contacted the company. A spokesman said that, “following an administrative error on August 6th/7th, the direct-debit payments of less than 1 per cent of Energia’s total customer base were processed twice. After learning of this, we immediately contacted these customers to inform them of the error and the plans to resolve the situation.”
The spokesman said the company also contacted its bank on Friday and instructed it to refund the duplicate payment into these customers’ accounts. “These repayments started on Monday, and our expectation is that this will be completed at the latest by close of business on Wednesday.”
The company said it “sincerely apologises to these customers for this error. As a gesture of goodwill, we will credit these customers’ next bill with €10 for any inconvenience caused.”