Managing director of tifgroup, Richard Smith says the FCA didn’t reach far enough with the information it gathered about access to travel insurance

One of the UK’s largest travel insurers is launching its own campaign to educate customers on buying travel cover, after it’s boss said the FCA’s efforts on the issue “didn’t go far enough”.

In response to the FCA’s challenge to the industry to improve access to insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, Richard Smith, managing director of tifgroup said “we are delighted that the FCA has consulted on this topic but we feel that the current outcome just doesn’t go far enough.”

Tifgroup worked with the FCA on its report, and Smith said with the answers it received could have pushed the industry further.

“We were involved in the consultation and gave our responses to the FCA process especially picking up on the points of medical risk rating and signposting which we feel are central to the problem.”

“They could have gone further”

“I think it is great that the FCA has recognised this as an issue,” Smith continued. “But I feel that they could have gone further to address these issues in the response recently published and included more substance to help vulnerable customers access suitable product, but we feel it has at least raised awareness to the problem.”

The regulator said it was concerned that customers would find it difficult to access the specialist travel insurance market. So it was going to work with stakeholders in the industry to create a new service which will redirect customers to specialist providers.

“I understand the challenges that the regulator faces and so we are more than happy to work with them and pick up the baton to continue to push to find industry-wide solutions that will result in a good outcome for customers.”

Risk rating tools

Smith commented that “the risk rating tool used by insurers to assess people’s conditions is central to the pricing of the travel insurance product for people with medical conditions. Redirecting customers from brand to brand, without an actual understanding of the brand’s approach to risk appetite and the risk rating tool they are using will not improve the situation”

“The aggregator model has changed the way travel insurance is sold and the approach adopted by aggregators in product display has tried to simplify and standardise the buying experience.

”Whilst this is, in theory, a good thing, in practice, it leads customers to believe that all products on the aggregator’s site cover exactly the same things, which, when spread across multiple insurers is just not factual.

”This combined with all aggregators choosing to use a single risk rating tool for medical screening leaves many customers dissatisfied and without the knowledge to know how to get insurance”

Smith went on to say: “There are many specialist products that are not on aggregator sites because they do not use the same risk rating tool, yet these products are regularly featured on charity forums and in national newspapers as products that have excellent cover at an affordable price for people with medical conditions.” 

Travel Insurance Explained

As a result, tifgroup has launched a campaign to teach consumers all they need to know about buying travel insurance.

Travel Insurance Explained hopes to reduce the number of disputed claims by improving customer knowledge when buying cover.

This week, it supported a parliamentary drop-in at Portcullis House

Hosted by Shadow Minister for Public Health Sharon Hodgson MP, the aim of the event was to raise awareness among MPs on the importance of getting the right travel insurance, not only for them and their families but to help inform their constituents too.

Fiona Macrae, head of, said: “We were delighted to be invited to support this drop-in, and were overwhelmed by the support from the MPs which has given this campaign cross-party support.

”We want to keep the momentum behind the access to insurance journey for those with all medical conditions. We plan to host our roundtable in the next few months and are so pleased Sharon Hodgson MP has confirmed she will host this event.”

Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health said: “I am delighted to be able to host this drop-in session today to inform MPs about the importance of getting the right travel insurance for consumers but also help them inform their constituents also.

”I look forward to hosting the roundtable in the Autumn to keep the momentum behind this campaign.”