My wife and I were due to go on a 35-day Caribbean cruise last February. Prior to departure, my mother-in-law got swine flu and was hospitalised.
My wife felt she could not leave the country, so we cancelled the trip.
We had insurance with Staysure, but trying to claim some of the cost is proving nigh on impossible. We stand to lose £10,656 for the cruise, plus £65 obtaining medical certificates.
A reader has been left £10,000 out of pocket after he was forced to cancel a 35-day Caribbean cruise last February despite having taken out insurance
My mother-in-law suffers from COPD (a pulmonary disease that causes breathing difficulties) and Staysure is saying her swine flu is related to this.
Having a flu-like illness alongside a lung disease makes symptoms worse, but I do not see a direct connection.
G. K., Nottingham.
So anyone with an elderly relative shouldn’t plan a holiday in case that relative falls sick?
That is surely what Staysure’s stance was implying, as, let’s face it, most elderly people are on some medication. This is abject nonsense.
The Financial Ombudsman has ruled against insurance firms in similar circumstances — in particular when there is no reason to believe that the state of a parent’s health would force you to cancel a holiday.
Issue 56 of Ombudsman News, found at financial-ombudsman.org.uk, focuses on this and other disputes on travel insurance.
So it came as little surprise when Staysure told me it had altered its policy wording in March to take account of cases where holidays have to be cancelled because of the unforeseen deterioration in a close family member’s health.
The new wording says cover includes cancellation caused when ‘you, a close relative, a travelling companion or any person with whom you have arranged to stay during the trip suffers unforeseen illness, injury or death’.
It also covers pre-existing conditions where ‘there would not have been any substantial likelihood of the condition deteriorating so that cancellation or cutting your trip short would become necessary’. The latter needs a medical practitioner to provide written confirmation.
You bought your insurance in January, so your policy had the old wording, but a spokesperson assures me claims made on older policies should be treated as if the new wording applies.
Here, a mistake was made. The firm has now agreed to pay £10,000 (the maximum available under the policy) towards your lost holiday. It has waived the £65-per-person excess as a goodwill gesture, too.
A spokesman says: ‘We strive to provide industry-best cover. That means listening to our customers so our policies are designed with their needs in mind.’
You have YOUR say
Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories.
Here are some of the best from our article revealing the money tips top finance experts give their own children…
I give my children money then encourage them to give me some of it back to invest. I transfer this to their Junior Isas and pensions.
Many people aren’t interested in finance until they turn 25.
S. S., Southend, Essex.
I use pocket money to teach my daughters about tax. Each month, I ask them to return £4 of the £20 they receive — I haven’t told them the cash is going towards a nest egg for when they turn 25.
R. B., Co. Durham.
My eldest children got jobs at 13. The money was rubbish, but they learned about finances, and, years later, they now understand money doesn’t grow on trees.
Before that, they were always given what they needed.
R. R., Denmark.
As a teacher, every moment of my working day is taken up with teaching the national curriculum.
And, as a parent of three, I take full responsibility for ensuring they know how to manage money.
E. M., East Sussex.
I learnt about work and money through the paper round I had as a teenager. When I first started working for a shop, I got £10 a week.
After a few months, I took on an evening round for a regional paper, too.
B. P., Birmingham.
Our household had chores we all did. The children took care of our own assignments.
None of us got paid for taking care of the home, but there were extra chores we could do to get cash.
B. G., United States.
Sadly, I have nothing left to give my children at the end of each month. It all goes on their upkeep — clothes, food, birthday presents for their friends. I must spend around £60 a month on gifts for children I don’t know!
S. H., Sussex.
In January, I got an email from my energy provider saying it was sorry I was leaving.
It informed me that I should phone Scottish Power, which had applied to take over both my gas and electricity.
I spent two-and-a-half hours trying to get through to Scottish Power, and it emerged someone I had never heard of had given it my address. I was told this would be treated as an erroneous transfer and cancelled if I raised an objection with my supplier.
I did so, but received 15 letters from Scottish Power addressed to this other person. I have tried calling and writing, to no avail.
S. D., Sheffield.
Scottish Power apologises for the problems you had. This sale was, apparently, made at a pop-up shop in a supermarket.
It seems an error was made with the postcode, which led to your address being picked up.
You feared your supply had twice been moved erroneously, but it did only happen once.
It has now been reinstated with your last provider and Scottish Power has arranged a £60 payment as a gesture of goodwill.
My partner’s son was involved in a motor accident 22 years ago. It left him with a head injury and needing 24-hour care. Alliance & Leicester — later Santander — agreed to let her look after his account.
Straight to the point
I’ve been a Virgin Media customer for two years, and I’m at the end of my tether.
We received emails saying we had illegally streamed or downloaded films, but we had not.
Then our internet and TV service kept failing, I was incorrectly charged a late-payment fee and my supply was cut off.
C. C., Reading, Berks.
What a terrible time you appear to have had. Virgin Media disputes a number of your allegations, but admits there were occasions when it did not provide the service expected.
It has now offered you £106.99 as a goodwill gesture to clear your account’s balance.
I want to buy Premium Bonds by post. I have been to two Post Offices, which don’t have the forms and say you can only buy online or over the phone. Is that right?
D. S., by email.
No, you can still buy the bonds by post, even though National Savings & Investments (NS&I) stopped selling them through Post Offices four years ago.
Phone NS&I on 08085 007 007 and ask it to send you the application form or download and print one from nsandi.com. You can then send the completed form, with a cheque, to NS&I.
My son is a Nationwide customer and recommended me for an account so we could both get its £100 referral reward.
I switched from Barclays in January, but my son and I haven’t received the money.
S. T., by email.
Nationwide says that, to qualify, the referrer and the switcher need to complete a form.
It says you were told this at the time of opening, and when you called two weeks later, but the form was not filled out.
Nationwide originally told me you were no longer eligible, but, upon review, has decided to honour the £100 for both you and your son as a gesture of goodwill.
I’ve been with BT for decades, but earlier this year, it stopped sending paper bills — and then, last week, my line was cut.
J. B., Chesterfield, Derbys.
You signed up to a new contract. Sadly, you weren’t told customers on new deals are sent bills via email by default.
BT had an incorrect email address, so you didn’t pay your bills for three months. Your line was then cut for four days until you made a payment.
You’re now back on paper billing and BT has apologised. It has given you £173.94 to clear your arrears and a further £36 to cover its annual paper bill charge.
Last year, my partner was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and her condition is deteriorating.
I have power of attorney (POA) over her affairs, including her account with Santander, but the bank says that I need a separate POA for her son.
His solicitors, who are Court of Protection-appointed managers of his affairs, contacted Santander.
It was agreed that all we needed to do was present ourselves at the branch, where my partner’s son could agree to me managing his account.
But the bank has now reneged on this and is insisting on POA, which will be costly to obtain.
J. O., Hertford.
You are, in effect, this man’s stepfather — a role you have held for many years. Yet Santander is treating you like someone who has just wandered into his life. It has now admitted that it provided you with incorrect information.
It has agreed to explore ways of managing the account with you and your partner’s son’s appointed deputy, i.e. a solicitor. It will, at your request, be donating £50 to charity on his behalf.
- Write to Tony Hazell at Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email email@example.com — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.