Boots travel insurer faces double investigation

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A firm that claims to be one of the biggest travel insurance providers in the UK is facing two investigations into its conduct.

Travel Insurance Facilities (TIF) – which sells through the High Street chain Boots – is being accused of failing to provide proper care to policyholders.

According to an investigation in The Times newspaper, some patients were left stranded abroad.

However, TIF denies any misconduct.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is investigating two doctors who work for the firm.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is also examining allegations against the company, after it was handed a 40,000 word dossier of complaints.

Those complaints contain claims that TIF habitually tried to delay or avoid making payouts.

‘Left to die’

Nicholas Kingsbury, whose father died of sepsis in Ethiopia, claimed that TIF refused to evacuate him.

“My father bought Boots cover, but was left to die in a hospital that didn’t even have a defibrillator,” he told the Times. “Every McDonald’s in Britain has one.”

He said that TIF had decided that what his father needed was “peace and quiet”.

The Times also reported a case of a 72 year-old man called Martin Blake, who paid £22,000 to fly home from Spain after suffering from a heart attack.

According to the Times, TIF had refused to evacuate him. He died in hospital in Wrexham a few days after his return.

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Image caption

TIF also offers ski-ing insurance

TIF did not comment to the BBC.

However in a statement to The Times, it said, “When people fall ill abroad, naturally their first instinct is to want to come home. However this may not be best for them in medical terms.

“Our focus is on the best clinical outcome based on expert advice, clinical fact, aviation medicine and our experience transporting unwell holidaymakers.”

It told the newspaper that the proportion of complaints was was tiny when compared to the number of claimants.

TIF was founded in 1996 in Kent, and trades under brands including Alpha Travel Insurance, Get Going, Holidaysafe and Ski Club Travel Insurance.

It has been recommended by the personal finance expert Martin Lewis on his website, MoneySavingExpert.

However, it is not a member of the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

“Travel insurers will act as quickly as possible to arrange and pay for the right treatment at the right medical facility and, if needed, arrange and pay for any emergency repatriation back to the UK,” said a spokesperson for the ABI.

“Last year ABI members supported 159,000 travellers requiring medical treatment overseas, paying out £200m to cover medical bills.”