Trevor Lakin, whose son died in a terrorist bombing in Egypt, asks why travel insurers fail to offer terrorism cover
"I have read carefully the terms of the travel policy again and although it was a tragic set of circumstances that meant your son was involved in the attack, benefit is specifically excluded under the personal accident section of the travel policy".
This is an extract from an insurer's letter referring to a claim on my son's annual travel policy.
It didn't cover him for dying in a suicide bomb attack in Egypt last summer.
The letter continues: "This policy states: 'You will not be covered for the following: any claim caused directly or indirectly by war, invasion, acts of terrorism....or similar event'."
The UK Government is also quite clear. In answer to a parliamentary question, Paul Goggins, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office, said: "British nationals or residents injured abroad should accordingly look for compensation to the perpetrator, to whatever insurance arrangements they may have made, or to the state where the criminal injury occurred."
The majority of travel insurers exclude acts of terrorism so that's out. Suicide bombers tend to die when detonating their bombs, so a claim on them is also out of the question.
And how can an average family, whose injuries and loss are severe, take on a foreign state?
The situation is very different in the UK. In London on 7 July 2005, 52 people were killed and many more injured. Soon after, a specific charity was set up for them.
The victims and their families were also able turn to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) that helps, although very slowly. Pay-outs to families who lost a loved one have now reached £100,000.
Compensation to those injured in the bombings will vary, but concern has already been expressed that a limit on the CICS of £500,000 per victim is too low and unreasonable.
Compare this to those British victims injured in Bali, Egypt and Turkey. They received £0.
Were they insured? Yes, and in some cases with two policies. My son wanted to go diving so he had a second policy to cover him when diving in the Red Sea at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.
Were they British taxpayers? Yes, and some at 40% (high earners).
The only difference between them is the location where the attacks took place. But all were victims of terrorism.
In Britain we look after those that need help. Look at the collections for the tsunami and Pakistan earthquake charities.
And that is where it all starts to go wrong.
Neither the UK Government nor the travel insurers will accept full responsibility. They leave it to our charitable nature to pick up the pieces.
We never book a holiday with the thought that something will happen to us. We wouldn't book it if that were the case, we would choose a different holiday.
But with the state of the world as it is now, travel insurers should take a modern view of what's going on in it. After all, they are making shedloads of cash for very little risk.
And any claim is combed over with a microscope to detect the 'get-out' clause that safeguards their millions.
To quote one insurer: " I wish I could do or say more, but I have had to balance my own personal feelings against the fact that we are a commercial organisation and must act within the terms and benefits of theinsurance policy."
Why can't we get all travel insurers to cover "acts of terrorism"?
Again I quote from this insurer: "I do agree with your comments that policies need to reflect modern day society and to that end we are reviewing the benefits we offer.
"However it is a slow process and I cannot guarantee how quickly a change will be made."
I suggest we follow the French and impose a €3 levy (£2) on all travel policies to provide a fund to cover claims for British victims of acts of terrorism overseas.
If we based this on the latest figures available (2004) when 24,799,000 travel policies were taken out, a sum of £50m would be generated annually to provide funds for claims arising from British victims of acts of terrorism overseas.
These funds would provide immediate financial assistance to victims and their families to meet immediate costs incurred following an incident.
This would include costs such as travel to distant hospitals and replacement of 'lost' items. It would also provide ongoing assistance to help victims and their families to try to rebuild and maintain their lives.
The question is will £50m per annum be enough to meet those financial needs especially if acts of terrorism increase?
Doing nothing is not an option (memories of Bob Geldof saying this).
I know of people who are devastated due to the loss of a loved one and their own injuries are so severe they will never be able to do their job again.
The result of that is no salary, which means no mortgage payments, leading to loss of home.
The loss of limbs requires adaptation to existing accommodation or even new specific accommodation. Who will pay for this with no government help and no travel insurance assistance?
A levy starting now in 2006 can help all the British victims of Bali, Turkey and Egypt.
The Red Cross, which administers the very specific charity for the London bomb victims, could administer a general charity for British victims of terrorism overseas.
How long will that take to set up? That depends on who is involved.
Will the travel insurers comply with a levy without government legislation?
Will the British Government help as it did with the London bomb victims charity by donating sums of money if there were a major event?
Action now, this year, can help those people affected by the bombs in Bali, Turkey and Egypt. IT
' Trevor Lakin, father of Jez Lakin, aged 28, who was killed at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 23 July 2005