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Don’t Buy: Trainline’s ticket insurance doesn’t cover coronavirus

Coronavirus and self-isolation are explicit exemptions under the ticket seller’s travel insurance

Don’t Buy: Trainline’s ticket insurance doesn’t cover coronavirus

Trainline’s ticket ‘travel insurance’ doesn’t bring many extra benefits, warns Which? 

Which? research has found that paying extra for Trainline’s travel insurance doesn’t give you much more cover than you would normally receive, according to the company’s terms and conditions. 

We also found that while the insurance states that it will offer cover if you or someone you’re travelling with falls ‘sick’, you won’t be covered if you’re sick with coronavirus. You also won’t be covered by the insurance if you have to self-isolate. 

As we hopefully come out of the pandemic, more of us will be inclined to purchase added cover should our travel be cancelled. However, paying extra for insurance might not cover you for coronavirus.

Here, Which? explains why paying more for Trainline’s travel insurance alongside your ticket doesn’t give you any additional protections and what you’re entitled to if your train travel is disrupted.

Insurance that doesn’t bring extra

Trainline offers travel insurance for an extra £1.75 alongside tickets bought through its website or app.

Which? has found that Trainline’s standard terms offer ample cover for cancellation related refunds. Existing rules also mean that travellers can get refunds on most train tickets except on advance fares.

When looking at Trainline’s travel insurance policy, we found that coronavirus and self-isolation are pulled out explicitly as exemptions from cover. This means that Trainline’s customers might be paying extra for insurance that doesn’t cover them for pandemic-related reasons.

Trainline also exempts refunds for advance ticket cancellations regardless of whether you buy travel insurance or not. This is despite the insurance document stating that ticket cancellations are covered up to £1,000. 

What is insured?

  • Train ticket cancellation and official ticket fees up to £1,000.
  • Missed departure and onward journeys to the value of £250, and overnight stays worth £100.
  • Personal effects cover up to £500 with the limit for a single item being £150.

What’s not insured?

  • Loss of enjoyment.
  • Travel delays caused by strikes or industrial action.
  • Loss of ‘gadgets’ such as iPads, games consoles, digital and video cameras, mobile phones and laptops.
  • Any epidemic or pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization.
  • Any coronavirus, including but not limited to Covid-19, or any related/mutated form of the virus.

Trainline customers are entitled to claim refunds, and to change the date and times of their tickets in most circumstances if trains are delayed or cancelled. In 2020, some rail providers agreed to drop their admin fees for ticket changes, which typically cost up to £10.

UK rail users are already entitled to compensation under existing schemes such as Delay Repay and can also make compensation claims under the Consumer Rights Act if they suffer financial losses.

We asked Trainline about its policy and it said: ‘To help customers book with confidence during the pandemic, in line with rail industry rules, anyone who has booked a non-refundable Advance ticket is entitled to change the date and time of their ticket as many times as they wish up until 31 December without a fee.

‘This means that if a customer is not able to travel due to a coronavirus-related reason, they won’t be out of pocket.

‘To help our customers feel assured and as flexible as possible when making travel plans, we also offer travel insurance. As basic insurance, this doesn’t cover incidents related to a pandemic, including coronavirus, as standard.

‘The travel insurance does, however, allow customers to get a full refund in the event of injury or missed departure because of delays en route to the station.’

Insurance claim nightmare

Navigating Trainline’s insurance policy and claims process has caught people out throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

While you may have cancellation cover under the travel insurance policy, you could face an uphill struggle to actually make a successful cancellation claim.

If you have to cancel the journey due to illness, you may find that you need to provide a medical report, or cancelling for a ‘home emergency’ means you have to provide images and a home insurance claim number if you can.

It’s worth noting that doctor’s notes often aren’t available for positive coronavirus cases.

We also approached Trainline’s travel insurance provider Ergo about this and it said: ‘We always welcome feedback on our products and regularly review them to ensure we make them as clear and transparent as possible. We always try to draw the consumer’s attention to anything we feel is important for them to know, hence the information in the T&C’s as well as on Trainline’s booking flow.

‘In terms of Covid-19, however, we do feel at the current time we should make it clear prior to purchase, so we have worked with Trainline to have this displayed in the purchase journey.

‘We are constantly looking to improve the claims journey for our consumers and have recently launched an online claims platform, which gives the opportunity to upload supporting evidence.’

‘Book with confidence’, but don’t expect a refund

During national lockdowns in 2020, rail providers signed up to a ‘book with confidence’ scheme allowing customers who buy in advance to change their travel dates as many times as they need, free of charge.  

For advance tickets bought in 2021, travellers can rearrange their booking for no fee. Other tickets can be rearranged or refunded through the Trainline website.

This itself comes with caveats. Taking advantage of the scheme means sticking to a time limit on rebooking. You must change to a new date and time by 6pm the day before travel.

Train delays and cancellations

You have the right to be compensated if your train journey has been delayed or cancelled. 

If you’ve bought insurance alongside your train ticket, it might be easier to claim compensation under existing schemes.

Delay Repay and renewal discounts for season ticket holders allow you to claim money back depending on the length of your delay. Delay Repay allows you to make claims for delays if you’ve experienced a delay or cancellation of at least 15 or 30 minutes, depending on your rail provider. This is regardless of whether it’s a return or single journey, or whether you’re travelling using a season ticket.

You’re also entitled to claim compensation under the Consumer Rights Act for any financial losses you’ve incurred as a result of disruption or cancellation of a train service. If you think the train company has failed to deliver its service with ‘reasonable care and skill’, you might also be entitled to some money back.

Read our guide on how to get compensation for a train delay or cancellation.

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