Coutts may rewrite gold-card travel policy

UK bank wants to place exclusion clauses on customers' policies

Travel Insurance News - 21/09/2009

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After it failed to withdraw travel insurance cover for a 78-year-old gold-card holder who was diagnosed with cancer after booking his holiday, Coutts is now considering rewriting its insurance policies.

The UK private banking firm, which is a part of the Royal Bank of Scotland, wants to rewrite its travel insurance policy so to enable it to withdraw insurance cover from cancer sufferers. Its current policy automatically extends travel insurance to clients using their gold card to book a holiday. The bank is now working towards developing a policy that will place exclusions on customers' policies if they contract unexpected health problems after booking their trip.

After-booking clauses, which provide travel insurers with a legal means to alter terms after a policy has been taken out, are facing growing public criticism. Travel insurers insist they need the clauses to protect themselves against the risk of policyholders needing expensive health treatments while on holiday.

The Financial Ombudsman however, points out that these clauses are unfair, as they would mean policyholders would not have a clear idea of the level of cover they are entitled to.

Ron Phillips, the 78-year-old who was diagnosed with cancer after he booked a holiday using the Coutts gold card won his battle against the company. After initially withdrawing his cover, Coutts apologised and then extended full coverage to the complainant.

Phillips has since set up his own website,, to help other travellers who find their insurance withdrawn under similar circumstances. Phillps insists such practices are unfair, and are simply "wriggle-out" clauses for travel insurers. He says the FOS and the Financial Conduct Authority should clamp down on such clauses to end discriminatory treatment of cancer sufferers.

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