Shocking treatment from Aer Lingus after customer’s husband dies during visit home

Pricewatch: Another customer dismayed at VHI’s charges for upgrading MultiTrip insurance policy

07/09/2015 Aer  Lingus
 Aer Lingus aircraft at Dublin Airport
.Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES 
Stock Photographs Up to date Aer Lingus Logo


We are not often shocked by the stories our readers send us, but one we received last week was shocking on many levels. We were contacted by a reader on behalf of a friend who had travelled home from the US with her husband and children in July to celebrate the birthday of a family member in the west of Ireland. The family flew with Aer Lingus.

Shortly after the family arrived home, the man died in an accident, so instead of marking a birthday, there was a funeral. The woman and her children were due to return to the US late last week, with her father travelling as part of the group “to help her travelling with [her husband’s] cremated remains and to support her and the boys”.

While the story is tragic, the manner in which Aer Lingus conducted itself in the first instance is shocking. “Aer Lingus have advised her that despite the fact that she has a return ticket in her late husband’s name, she cannot transfer that into her father’s name and instead has to buy her father a ticket at premium prices,” our reader wrote.

“They are aware of the fact that the seat beside her will be empty and could accommodate her father,” she added before asking if there was “anything that can be done as this seems like a very callous approach considering her circumstances”.


Read more Pricewatch:

Callous is putting it mildly. We could scarcely believe that any company would behave in such a fashion, and we contacted the airline. Within hours we received a response.

‘’We sincerely apologise to the customer for this error,” the statement said. “This has been rectified and the customer has received their amended booking. We send our deepest condolences to the family.’’

Tripped up by MultiTrip policy upgrade

Michael McCarthy and his wife have a MultiTrip travel policy with VHI which covers travel within Europe for periods up to 30 days.

“We are planning a trip to Tanzania for 43 days and we asked VHI to quote us for additional cover. The annual premium for our existing cover is €130. VHI have responded that they can upgrade our policy to worldwide travel for periods up to 60 days. The annual premium for this cover is €431 and the cost of upgrading is the full difference between that and the annual premium, which is €301.”

So far so good.

Michael says he would be happy to pay this on his renewal date, but “it transpires that VHI will charge the same upgrade sum irrespective of the point in the policy year at which the upgrade becomes effective. In my own case, three months of my current policy year have elapsed, so the upgrade will apply for nine months. I queried whether the upgrade cost would be the same if implemented six months or nine months into the policy year and VHI confirmed that this would be the case. To quote their own phrase: ‘VHI does not do pro rata.’”

He reckons this “is inequitable – they are charging a premium for cover which they do not provide. I have challenged their approach but met a blank wall. Maybe you might have better luck?”

We can but try.

We contacted the VHI and received the following statement. “VHI MultiTrip travel insurance provides cover for multiple trips during the policy term. It is a risk-rated product and a number of factors are considered to determine price, including the duration of a trip and the costs of healthcare in certain areas.

“The customer is changing two aspects of his cover – the geographical zone from Europe to worldwide and extending the 30-day single trip limit to 60 days for their upcoming holiday. In this scenario, the member has the full policy benefits for their trip, and subsequent trips, so the risk profile remains the same regardless of the point in time the upgrade took place. Pricing is not on the basis that a customer uses the policy every day but rather on the risk associated with the trips they take.”